When a last-minute COVID-19-related cancelation of North Carolina’s game against Elon left an unexpected void in the Tar Heels schedule, Roy Williams picked up his phone and called a longtime coaching friend in nearby Durham.
Who answered on the other end was North Carolina Central head coach LeVelle Moton.
“He said, ‘Man, we got a cancellation … would you be interested in filling the void?” Moton told WRALSportsFan.com of Williams’ impromptu overture. “I say, sure, and kind of find out it was going to be.
He said, ‘Well you pick the date.'”
Moton, who always revered North Carolina, proposed Saturday.
After what amounted to a 5-minute conversation, explained Moton, the schools agreed to meet for only the third time ever. The game is set to tip at 2 p.m. inside the Dean Smith Center
“It was easy as that,” said Moton.
How the two schools came to an agreement so quickly and effortlessly even shocked Moton’s wife.
My wife said, ‘When are you playing Carolina?’ I said Saturday. She said, ‘Oh my goodness you’re crazy,'” said Moton.
Crazy is how one of the winningest coaches in HBCU basketball history described his program. North Carolina Central has competed against and beaten Power 5 schools before. So daring to challenge arguably the most storied program in all of collegiate basketball isn’t that surprising.
After all, NCCU is seeking respect along Tobacco Road — to viewed similarly as Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.
Those schools, said Moton, are considered the Kardashian sisters — the social influencers of in-state hoops and beyond.
To everyone else, North Carolina Central might as well be Rob Kardashian, trying hard not to be overlooked.
“We will play the Lakers if they wanted to play us,” he said. “You’ve got to play the best teams and it has helped mold and shape us for who we are.”