CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) – As the beginning of the season draws near in the coming months, three women’s basketball teams from the Triangle migrated to Charlotte for ACC Tipoff on Tuesday.
UNC head coach Courtney Banghart and the Tar Heels were one of eight ACC squads to make the NCAA Tournament this past season, falling to Ohio State in the second round.
Heading into this season, UNC has eight new players and returns three starters from last year’s team, including first-team All-ACC picks Deja Kelly and Alyssa Ustby.
With a valuable mix of talent and experience on the roster, along with the Top 25 preseason ranking, the Tar Heels are feeling the added pressure, but they are also embracing it.
“I don’t think you choose Carolina as a coach or player if you’re not comfortable in pressure,” Banghart said. “Pressure means people care, so I’m all in for all of that. But there’s a slither of difference in the top team in the country. I mean who would’ve thought when the tournament started (last season) that LSU would win it? I think we (predicted) other teams. So I think we’re in the conversation.”
Kelly has had the offseason to envy, taking part in the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup, as well as participating in workouts ahead of the 2023 WNBA Draft before eventually deciding to come back to Chapel Hill. Despite the busy last few months, Kelly is blocking out the distractions and keeping her team’s goal of reaching the Final Four in perspective.
“Just knowing that I have to keep the main thing, the main thing,” Kelly said.” I know what has gotten me all these opportunities is basketball and school. So I know that can’t really interfere.”
No. 16 ranked UNC tips off the season at home against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 8.
You can watch entire Tuesday coverage from ACC Tipoff in the video below: