GRANDOVER RESORT/GREENSBORO Sylvia Hatchell said she’s about as happy as she can be to be back on the sidelines as the women’s basketball season begins.
The veteran UNC coach, who missed last season with leukemia, was in great spirits at the ACC’s annual media day at the conference’s go-to resort.
“I’m so excited to be back out there,” said Hatchell, who sat out last season while long-time assistant Andrew Calder ran the bench. “This time last year I was laying over there in the cancer center not knowing if I was going to make it or not. I’m glad to be here, there’s no question about that.”
The Tar Heels were picked to finish fourth in the conference behind defending champion Notre Dame, Duke and newcomer Louisville by both the media Blue Ribbon Panel and in a preseason coaches’ poll.
N.C. State was picked ninth by the panel and 10th out of the 15 teams by the coaches.
Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd was selected to be conference player of the year, while Duke’s Elizabeth Williams and UNC’s Allisha Gray and Stephanie Mavunga joined Gray on both the panel and coaches’ preseason squads. UNC’s Xylina McDaniel was named to the panel’s team only.
Duke’s Becca Greenwell and Sierra Calhoun were named to the five-player newcomer watch list by both groups.
Williams was one of five Triangle players to attend the event, which featured all 15 conference coaches.
They said it …
Duke center Elizabeth Williams (on her and her senior teammates’ legacy): “I want to have a banner year and exceed everything I’ve done in previous years. As a senior you want to leave a legacy and hope that the players behind you can get something from you and use that as well.”
UNC forward Danielle Butts (on Hatchell’s return): “It’s very exciting to have her back. Last year we had to worry about her health and how she was doing day-to-day. It’s just great to have her back at practice. We missed her a lot.”
N.C. State guard Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin (on playing for three coaches in her career): “Personally I had to adjust three different times and I guess I’m just used to adjusting on the fly. I can pick up names easier, running different sets and trying to fit into different offenses.”
Duke guard Ka’lia Johnson (on her late season transition to No. 1 point guard): “Last year for me was a stepping stone for this year. Coach P had the utmost confidence in me last year. Now I’ve had time to prepare to have the point guard position at the beginning of the year.”
UNC guard Latifah Coleman (on Hatchell): “We’re glad to have her passion and energy back. It creates a whole different environment for us.”
UNC vs. Howard, Nov. 14, 4 p.m.
N.C. State vs. Tennessee State, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
Duke at Alabama, Nov. 16, 8 p.m.