Dean Smith, coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team, has suspended two players, J. R. Reid, center, and Steve Bucknall, forward, from its season-opening game against Syracuse after the players' arrests on assault charges.
Reid, a sophomore, and Bucknall, a junior, were arrested after a confrontation Oct. 24 at Shooters II, a Raleigh, N.C., nightclub. A hearing is scheduled on Nov. 16 in Wake County District Court.
''Although the players were verbally harassed and pushed in an effort to provoke some kind of response, I am taking disciplinary steps against them for not getting out when the verbal harassment started,'' Smith said in a statement. Syracuse, which lost in the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship game to Indiana last season, and North Carolina will meet Nov. 21 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at Springfield, Mass.
Reid, the Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year last season, aver-aged 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. Bucknall saw limited action, averaging 3.7 points.