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Can They Keep Their Streaks Alive?
Part of the North Carolina mystique is its continued success in the ACC and NCAA. This year's team already
has the dubious honor of being the first UNC squad not picked by the media to finish in the top three in
the ACC. What other records could fall?
■27 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, dating back to 1975 and including two national
championships, four title games, nine Final Fours and 13 Elite Eights
■ 31 consecutive 21-win seasons with a combined 820-218 (.790) record and only five with double-digit
■ 35 consecutive postseason tournament invitations, dating back to 1967 and including an NIT
■ 37 consecutive seasons finishing in the top three of the ACC, including 18 regular-season
championships, 12 second-place finishes and seven thirds
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DTH PHOTOS BY CARA BRICKMA.N
North Carolina senior guard Nikki Teasley averaged 14.6 points in 26 games during the 1999-2000 season. Teasley
returned home to Maryland for the 2000-01 school year to take a break from school and basketball.
After Finding Inner Peace,
Teasley Returns to Boost UNC
By Kelly Lisk
Assistant Sports Editor
Finally, the answer.
She didn’t hesitate in the least. It was almost as if a sense of relief
permeated the dimly lit room as senior guard Nikki Teasley
answered the question that people had been asking since early in
the spring of 2000.
What happened that year? Why didn’t she play last season?
Rumors flew around the North Carolina women’s basketball team
when Teasley left. Is she pregnant? Does she not get along with her coach?
The press releases did nothing to quell the whispers that slow
ly soiled Teasley’s reputation. UNC Athletic Communications stat
ed that Teasley was not returning to the team because of “person
al reasons.” The ambiguity of it all just added fuel to the fire.
Does she have a drug problem ? Has she lost her love for the game, for
Actually, it was none of the above.
And now Teasley is back, and it is time to set the story straight.
“Everything is all good now,” Teasley said, shaking her head at
the stories people came up with to explain her departure. “I just
want people to know the truth about what happened.”
The truth is something to which most college athletes can relate.
Any one of them could tell you that balancing school, practice and
competition is a difficult task. For Teasley, it all just became too
And suddenly, what plagues most athletes as their biggest fear
became a simple solution for Teasley, an easy out.
She wanted to hurt herself.
It was the perfect beginning to a long, successful basketball
career. Teasley tore up the court in high school and entered North
Carolina as the No. 1 recruit in the nation. She quickly made a
name for herself on the collegiate circuit, earning ACC Rookie of
the Year honors in 1998 after becoming only the second freshman
to lead the conference in assists.
Things only got better from there. She led the ACC in steals
and assists in her sophomore season and earned first-team All-
ACC Tournament accolades. Asa junior she lit up the scoreboard
in the 2000 ACC championship
game with 31 points, including
seven 3-pointers, and was named
“Nikki is a package player,”
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
“She brings so much to the court.
Everyone loves playing with her.”
Although the awards kept pil
ing up, Teasley was struggling. Per
Hatchell’s advice, she took a
seven-game leave of absence from
the team in January of her junior
“It was to the point where I was
hurting the team,” Teasley said. “I
was showing up to practices late,
or I wasn’t working out. When I
left the first time I thought I was
better, so I came back, and the
same thing happened again.”
In her first game back on
Jan. 30, 2000, Teasley scored
11 points in the second half to
lead her team to a win against
Maryland. But off the court, her
world was starting to devolve.
“It was to a point where I want
ed to hurt myself, put myself out
of commission for six to eight
weeks,” Teasley said. “Something
to get away from everything. It
was that difficult. I was failing all
my classes; I wasn’t going to class
at all. In basketball, I was playing
m 11 I \
1 V// ' SIGNS EXPRESS
Village Plaza * Franklin St. 8c Elliott Rd.
Friday, November 9, 2001
awful. Everything was going bad at once, and I just couldn’t take
it I just said, ‘l’m gonna do this, and then I’m not gonna have to
worry about anything.’ I could just stay in my room.
“Then God just said to take a second and chill out for a minute.
So that’s exactly what I did. That’s exacdy how it happened. If it
got to the point where I wanted to hurt myself, then it’s not worth
it. To take my life, or to hurt myself - that is just not worth it.”
So Teasley sat down with her coaches, and after a supportive
discussion decided she would not return for the 2000-01 season.
Instead, she would go home and try to finding the happiness
she had lost.
Teasley relished her first few weeks at home in Maryland. She
sted and loved the fact that if she wanted to, she could spend the
tire day around her house with nothing to worry about. No
school, no basketball, no worries.
Those vacation days didn’t last too long. Before she knew it,
Teasley was juggling two jobs and wondering how she ever took
what she had for granted.
“You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone,” Teasley said.
“They do so much for you here at school. You just don’t even know.”
Teasley spent her days in construction gear, helping pave dri
veways and alleys, and worked nights in the children’s department
at a local J.C. Penney. Nikki Teasley the basketball star didn’t exist
for her co-workers and friends from home. To them she was sim
ply Michelle, her given name.
She began to see a therapist, whom she still sees at least twice
a week. Although her sessions were tough, Teasley said she need
ed them desperately.
“Without my therapist, I don’t know if I would be back here
today,” Teasley said.
Self-reflection, combined with therapy, helped Teasley regain
the focus and composure that were missing from her life during
her junior year. And although she knew it would be a difficult jour
ney, Teasley said she knew in her heart it was time to go back. She
wanted to tie up loose ends on the basketball court and earn a
degree - something no one else in her family has done.
She had spent a year searching herself, looking for an answer.
With a smile stretching from ear to ear, she admitted the answer
existed right where she started.
This summer, as Teasley
walked back into Carmichael
Auditorium as a player for the
first time in a year, she wasn’t
sure what kind of emotions she
She slowly sauntered out to
center court, where she had
stared intimidatingly into oppo
nents’ eyes so many times
before. Teasley closed her eyes
and let it all soak in.
As she opened them, she
visualized the night of Jan. 22,
1999, when North Carolina
hosted Duke. Although the Tar
Heels lost that game, they
packed the stands with a school
record sellout crowd of 10,000.
Emotions ran high during the
game, and the intensity was not
lost on the
It was easy to hear the
screaming crowd. She could see
a fan in every seat. And as she
recalled how good it felt to see
such a response to an often
overlooked women’s basketball
team, Teasley knew everything
was going to be all right
She was truly back. And,
more importantly, she was readv.