Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Whole Lot of Shining Moments to Remember

I'm not going to pretend to be a "die hard" UNC basketball fan for one minute.

I didn't go to the school and I have never lived in the state.

They have been the college basketball I have followed the most over the past 15 years - I keep an eye on their recruiting classes, watch a bunch of their games during the season, usually wind up picking them to win the tourney when they have a decent team, and yes, I even have a "Carolina" t-shirt that I picked up when I went to a game a at Chapel Hill a couple years back.

But I can't say that I bleed Carolina Blue or that my life is any better when they win a game or any worse when they lose (I save that torture for the Philly teams), because let's face it: rooting for Carolina is like rooting for a top Fortune 500 company. At the end of the day they're still rich and don't really care how you feel about them.

With that said, I do have to admit that I found some sick satisfaction in last night's title game in which the Tar Heels took Michigan St. to the woodshed in route to their fifth national championship.

This game was the 23rd championship game that I actually remember sitting down to watch (the first was the 1987 classic between Indiana and Syracuse - I was seven years old at the time) and I probably won't remember this one as an all time great game, but I will remember it.

In sports, you always have those championship games that are a little boring and a little anti-climatic; but like my buddy Paul said, it's always better to have an elite, historic team win that year than a nobody. At least Carolina won the final game of a relatively lack-luster tournament. If it had been a Utah, or a Villanova, or a team like that then of course those fans would remember it forever, but it probably would eventually fade from the collective mainstream memory.

As the years go on, we won't remember this game as a classic but we will instead remember this season as the year that UNC tied Indiana with five school championships, we will remember this season as the year Tyler Hansbrough capped off a solid collegiate career by cutting down the nets, we will remember this season as the year coach Roy Williams went from a great coach with one title under his belt to a legendary coach with multiple titles and now has as many school championship wins at North Carolina as Dean Smith (How did he go from the guy that couldn't win the big one at Kansas to the guy who wins one all the time at UNC?).

Sometimes that just happens in sports

I don't necessarily remember a lot from the Colts-Bears somewhat sloppy Super Bowl from a couple years ago but I do know Peyton Manning has a ring and sometimes that's all you need to retain.

Finally, of all the Carolina teams I have "followed", this group was probably my favorite - mainly because I didn't have a favorite player on the squad. The Stackhouse-Wallace team got me into Carolina hoops, the Carter-Jamison team solidified my support, and I was happy for the school when they won the championship in 2005 but was not a big fan of a lot of those players (namely May and McCants). But this was Roy's team. He had recruited all of these players and to me, they exemplified what a complete college team should look like.

I've never hated a player more than I hated Danny Green during his freshmen season but I was actually relieved every time he checked into the game this year. Can't say that I've ever seen more individual growth by one player over a four year career. Deon Thompson seemed very awkward and clumsy to me his freshman year a season later but now he is a monster down low. I'm hoping Ed Davis didn't play too well during the tournament to get any ideas about going pro because he looks like he could be a special talent for at least one more season in the Carolina Blue. Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson came in with Brandan Wright as a highly touted class and yeah, Wright might have the money in Golden State but does anyone in America really know his name like they now know Ellington and Lawson?

And finally there is Hansbrough. The prototypical college basketball player. He will get drafted by a pro team and I really wouldn't be surprised to see him find his way into a rotation and serve as a spark off the bench but his days as a dominant basketball player are more than likely over. I think he knows that too. He announced he was coming back for his senior season with out any hesitation last spring and he knew he had one last shot at reaching the apex of his basketball career and last night he did it.

These players will now leave and a new crop of McDonald's All-Americans will take their spot and some time in the not too distant future we will probably be talking about Roy Williams' third NCAA title - because, after all, that's just what Carolina does - but even though it was a blow out, I won't forget this one any time soon.

1 comment:

Paul said...

That's why I love you buddy...you've got class.

I hate carolina fans (from VA at least), but you don't bother me. Well put. Congrats on the title, and I rather have more reason to hate the 'Heels' than a random champion that doesn't belong in the club.