SportsPulse: Marshall won their first ever NCAA tournament game pulling off the huge upset over Wichita State and show no signs of slowing down.
USA TODAY Sports
CHARLOTTE — The most famous player in North Carolina basketball history isn’t its leading scorer. In fact, Michael Jordan isn’t even in the top 10, a concession to the fact he only played three seasons in college and never averaged more the 20 points per game as a Tar Heel.
Still, whenever a North Carolina player can pass Jordan in the record books, it’s meaningful. Even if that player doesn’t actually remember Jordan playing.
Berry, born on April 1, 1995 — the year Jordan came back to the Chicago Bulls after going off to play baseball — has no real recollection of Jordan’s career. Still, to be able to surpass Jordan’s 1,788 points scored at North Carolina was something he said he’ll tell his kids about someday.
CINDERELLA ARRIVES: Marshall upsets Wichita State for its first NCAA win
“To be able to have that honor, that’s something great,” said Berry, a senior guard. “I can always remember that that I passed him on the scoring list. He left after three years, didn’t he? So it’s expected for me to pass him, kinda. I’ve been here for four years now. At the same time, to be above him is a great honor.”
It was unclear whether Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets, was actually in the Spectrum Center on Friday to witness the Tar Heels’ 84-66 victory over Lipscomb. He has been a conspicuous presence at a number of North Carolina NCAA tournament games over the years, but in his own building, it is easier for him to stay out of the public view.
And though Berry scoring 14 points in a rather routine first-round victory over a No. 15 seed isn’t necessarily one of the most significant moments of his college career, everything about Jordan still represents a line of threshold of accomplishment for Carolina players.
“You say something like that, I start grinning,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “My gosh. But 23 was pretty good. Having that extra year probably helped him, too, but you’re still ahead of Michael Jordan in something. A lot of guys aren’t ahead of Michael Jordan in anything so I’m happy for Joel.
IMAGES FROM THE FIRST ROUND OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT