Brady Manek blends right in as No. 19 North Carolina hosts Brown

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With the first game of the Hubert Davis era in the books, there shouldn’t be much change for No. 19 North Carolina in terms of approach.

That’s because despite the hoopla involving the first game with Davis as the coach, the Tar Heels weren’t consumed with that situation when the season began.

They’ve been concentrating on making improvements on a daily basis, and that’s what the second game of the season will be about when Brown visits for Friday night’s game in Chapel Hill, N.C.

And while the move to Davis, a former North Carolina player and assistant coach, is significant following the spring retirement of Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams, there’s another new aspect involving the Tar Heels that could prove beneficial throughout the season.

That comes with the arrival of Brady Manek, a transfer from Oklahoma. He poured in 20 points during his debut with the Tar Heels in Tuesday night’s victory against Loyola of Maryland.

Manek scored the first points of the season. He’s bound to be going at quite a good clip if this works out for the Tar Heels.

“His reputation is as a great 3-point shooter, but he’s not just that,” Davis said. “He’s a basketball player.”

Teammate Kerwin Walton said Manek “has a great touch around the rim.”

It also was an encouraging opening night for Dawson Garcia, a transfer from Marquette who scored 12 points.

With production coming from newcomers, the Tar Heels hope that blends well with what returning players offer. Caleb Love scored 22 points against Loyola, meaning the sophomore guard has led the team in scoring in back-to-back season openers.

The experiences in the Smith Center are vital for the Tar Heels, who have seven new players on the roster compared to a year ago. After Friday, they have only one more home game in November.

If there’s something that can be carried over regarding there being a new man in the coaching seat on the North Carolina bench, it would delight Davis to see the passion that was part of the scene on opening night.

“One of the things I always tell the guys is it’s OK to be emotional because it means you care,” Davis said. “I care about this program and this place and this university so much.”

Brown began the season by defeating Division III Salve Regina 89-59 on Tuesday night. It was a significant step for the Ivy League school because members of that conference didn’t play games last season amid the pandemic.

“There were a lot of things that happened that we need to improve upon, but there were a lot of positives, too,” Bruins coach Mike Martin said. “I thought we shared the ball really well.”

The visit to Chapel Hill will mark the first nonconference road game for Brown since a Dec. 28, 2019, trip to Duke.

Brown guard Paxson Wojcik, who scored 12 points in his first game, is a transfer from Loyola Chicago. He’s the son of former North Carolina assistant coach Doug Wojcik.

This will be Brown’s lone true road game until Nov. 28 against Quinnipiac.

–Field Level Media

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