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McGrath, Seahawks return to Chapel Hill on Wednedsay

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McGrath, Seahawks return to Chapel Hill on Wednedsay

(April 2) ST. LOUIS, MO - North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, left and assistant coach C.B. McGrath watch as referees break up an altercation between Michigan State and North Carolina during the first half in the semifinal game of the Men's NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday, April 2, 2005. (lde) 2005

(April 2) ST. LOUIS, MO - North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, left and assistant coach C.B. McGrath watch as referees break up an altercation between Michigan State and North Carolina during the first half in the semifinal game of the Men's NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday, April 2, 2005. (lde) 2005

Tribune News Service

(April 2) ST. LOUIS, MO - North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, left and assistant coach C.B. McGrath watch as referees break up an altercation between Michigan State and North Carolina during the first half in the semifinal game of the Men's NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday, April 2, 2005. (lde) 2005

Tribune News Service

Tribune News Service

(April 2) ST. LOUIS, MO - North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, left and assistant coach C.B. McGrath watch as referees break up an altercation between Michigan State and North Carolina during the first half in the semifinal game of the Men's NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday, April 2, 2005. (lde) 2005

Brandon Sans, Sports Editor

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Wednesday night’s game against no. 14 North Carolina (6-2) isn’t another match on the schedule for UNC Wilmington coach C.B. McGrath.

McGrath will return to a place he spent fourteen years coaching and recruiting under Hall-of-Fame coach Roy Williams. Of course, their relationship extends further back to when McGrath earned 13 varsity letters at West Topeka High before playing under Williams at Kansas.

Rock chalk, Tar Heels, and Teal

McGrath joined Williams’ coaching staff upon graduation before following him to UNC in 2003. From there it was three national championships in four title games before McGrath accepted the UNCW job on April 3, 2017.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a game there,” McGrath said. “It’s going to feel a little foreign.”

In addition to McGrath, UNCW assistant coach Jackie Manuel will also experience a reunion in Chapel Hill. Manuel was a starter on UNC’s 2005 national championship team.

Seahawks in the Dean Dome

Wednesday will be the third time the Seahawks have visited the Dean E. Smith Center under McGrath.

UNCW (4-5) partnered with East Carolina, UNC, and UNC Greensboro in a Hurricane-relief jamboree before last season. The Seahawks finished 2-1, with its lone loss coming against the Tar Heels.

In October, the Seahawks had to evacuate Wilmington because of Hurricane Florence just as practices were set to begin. With Williams’ blessing, McGrath and his program spent about two weeks practicing in the Dean E. Smith Center.

The Seahawks played a regular season game in the Smith Center on New Year’s Eve in 2013 where it lost 81-54 under then-coach Buzz Peterson who, like McGrath, also had strong ties to the UNC program.

Key match-ups

The Tar Heels will be without freshman guard Colby White, who has started all of their games this season, due to precautionary measurements to an ankle injury. That means UNCW guard Kai Toews, fresh off Co-Colonial Athletic Association Rookie-of-the-Week honors, may be tasked with defending junior guard Seventh Woods, who would make his first collegiate start.

The more prominent assignment will be who spends the bulk of the game guarding senior forward Luke Maye (14.0 points-per-game). That task will fall to forward Jeantal Cylla to start with.

“[UNC] starts another big guy,” McGrath said. “The other big guy can’t stretch the floor as far as Luke can. Devontae [Cacok] is more accustomed to guarding the traditional post player.”

Cylla’s prior experience at Florida Atlantic and on the Haitian national team required him to guard the perimeter more than a traditional post player like Cacok would. Thus, he’s the candidate who can hope to slow down the preseason All-American in Maye, who despite shooting 29 percent from three-point range this year, has shot it better than 40 percent from distance in the previous two years.

Where to watch 

The Seahawks and Tar Heels will tip-off at 9 pm on ESPN2. UNCW last appeared on ESPN2 on Feb. 7, 2004, when it lost 49-44 to Virginia Commonwealth. It holds a 2-4 all-time record on the channel.

The night won’t be the only opportunity to see the Seahawks and Tar Heels play for local Wilmington fans who won’t make the trip to Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels will travel to Trask Coliseum next season as part of a home-and-home series announced between the schools.

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