Days of our Lives

With apologies to the soap opera by the same name, let's take a look at the results of yesterday's game and determine if we should consider suicide or some lesser destructive action.

It was painful to watch us lose to the Deacons, but I don't think I can say that it was totally unexpected. All we had to do was to look at the line to determine that the real experts ( line makers) and the betting fans thought it was a close game to call. What we had was a third encounter between two teams with basically the same personnel, and the first two could have gone either way. I think we would be well advised to put the game behind us and continue to improve for the possible fourth and fifth matchups, the fifth one being the one that really counts.

We can offer all kinds of excuses for yesterday's outcome, but I think Chris Paul captured the reason for the WF win in his post game interview. He said the energy of the crowd was responsible for the win and I agree. Wake has done an outstanding job of creating a true home court advantage and it paid off. We can make fun of the goony shirts all we want to, but anyone who has been following Carolina basketball for any amount of time knows that in years past, the crowd in Winston-Salem was usually as pro Carolina as it was Demon Deacon. If there were Carolina fans present yesterday, they must have had the gold and yellow shirts on because that's all I could see on television. The Wake pep band sounded great playing what I regard as the perfect basketball song, "There'll Be A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight." I don't think it was their original idea but few ideas are. I was told that some school in the Midwest did it before the Deacons, but that doesn't detract from its effectiveness. It sends exactly the right message whenever it's played except, of course, after a loss. The idea of the giant sized bricks that were held up when we were shooting free throws was original. Or, at least, I hadn't seen it before.

One thing the Deacs do, I don't like and I don't understand how they get by with it. The twirling eye ball when the opponent is shooting free throws should not be allowed. It's not exactly the same thing, but it's awfully close. I referring to flashlights and I won't even discuss the brief problem with lasers. They wouldn't allow non explosive noise makers, I'm sure and the twirling eye balls should be outlawed.

Those who are depressed over losing yesterday should remember similar games when we were on the winning side. Remember the Kansas game in Madison Square Garden where we seemed to get every loose ball or how about the Georgia Tech game in the Smith Center last year when we jumped on the Yellow Jackets from the opening tip-off and didn't let up for the entire game. We've had games where little has gone wrong this year and we are going to have more before the season concludes. I would wager that we will be favored in every game we play from here to the end of the season. At least before the NCAA playoffs.

Crowd energy is a funny thing. I really don't understand how the crowd can help players do things that require skill like putting a ball in a hoop or hitting a blazing fast ball, but experience has shown that it can. Maybe what the crowd does is enhance or elevate the player's concentration level so that he or she performs at the very highest level possible. Maybe the players need a little boost of energy to do that and they get it from the crowd. Sounds crazy, but if you don't agree, please let me know why you think it works.

I hate to say it, but I think McCants is now reaping the fruits of some things that have occurred in the past. Whether he likes it or not, people now watch every move he makes and the officials may very well have an anti-McCants bias. McCants has matured greatly, but he has got to live down some things that occurred in the past. Ever wonder why the TV camera practically stays on him when he is not in the game? It's simple, its because they think he might do something, shall we say, interesting. I have seen several instances this year where I was afraid he might go off against an opposing player, but he didn't. If he didn't have a reason to go off against Strickland yesterday, I don't know what it will take. The TV announcers got a little flustered on his fourth foul fowl when Dickie Vitale kept saying, "There's no use for that." Vitale's broadcasting buddy had to explain that Vitale's comments were aimed at McCants rather than the official. I'm glad that point was clarified because it was not clear to me at the time.

How about the officials at the start of the second half. It sure looked like they had consulted with each other during halftime and decided that they were going to reclaim authority over the game. I would certainly have not been pleased with that development if I had been a Deacon fan.

So don't let the loss get you down too far. There is still a lot of ACC basketball to be played and we are going to have many thrills and celebrations before the season ends. We'll meet the Deacs again and maybe next time we won't have to contend with their "energy package." It will be interesting to see.

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" This university has produced enough excellence to fill a library or lead a nation ... As one who grew up in the South, I have long admired this university for understanding that our best traditions call on us to offer that light and liberty to all. Chapel Hill has always been filled with the progressive spirit."

President Bill Clinton at the University of North Carolina Bicentennial Celebration, October 12, 1993.