By Ken Cross
North Carolina Tar Heels junior Luke Maye still gets plenty of chatter about “The Shot”. You know – that was the jumper that gave the Heels the two-point win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight and was a gigantic step on the path of last season’s National Championship squad.
Maye has turned into an outstanding spokesman and analyst for coach Roy Williams. He discussed many topics at ACC Media Day on Wednesday as he and the Tar Heels take on the mantra of “repeat” where last season it was “redemption”
“I definitely think that guys are still hungry,” Maye explained, “We have so many new guys and a great mix of returnees that have been through it and have new guys who come in hungry and they saw us get our rings and they want that for themselves.”
Maye says the talk of his game-winning shot which answered a Malik Monk three, which pulled Kentucky even with the Tar Heels in the waning moments, has died down. However, that is still a play that can be a motivator for North Carolina coming into ’17-18.
“With the new season right around the corner, this gives us something to look forward to and experiencing that with my teammates,” noted Maye, “We have so many new guys so there’s a different kind of feel around the locker room. We all have the same goals and mind and we want to do it gain.”
Seven freshmen and Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson will make the reestablishment of chemistry interesting in the early going. Johnson will add experience to that guard rotation as he is a shooter who will figure into the rotation immediately.
“He rooms with myself and Kenny (Williams) and being able to grow our relationship off the court has been really good and he is an unbelievable guy with late nights in the gym,” said Maye, “He proved himself at Pitt and gave us 26 at home, so we are looking forward to him being on our team now.”
As for the 6-9 Maye, he is a post with consistent touch from beyond the three-point line. Williams is going to use lots of small-ball concepts with a four-out and one-in type of game. This will benefit Maye even more because of the matchup issues that that a big man with such a consistent three-ball can cause.
“I think I rebound really well for my size and do a great job of knowing where to be and using my IQ to my advantages,” assessed Maye of his game, “I think that guarding fives…they have to guard myself as well. Spreading the floor and using five around zero is something not many teams can do.”
The Tar Heels opener is Friday November 10 in Chapel Hill against Northern Iowa.