Looks Like A Payback To Me
It would be hard for any Carolina fan who watched yesterday's game with Maryland not to remember the fiasco in College Park on Feb. 22, '03 when the Terrapins put a 40 point hurting on us. There were many things to be pleased about in the game such as the point total for the Heels being the highest it has ever been against the Terps and the margin of victory being the second highest ever. The largest margin of victory is 36 and there is a good possibility that record would have been broken if Coach Williams hadn't called off the dogs at the end. We were ahead, at one time, by 42 and I'll bet you many Tar Heel were hoping for a 50 point win.
The game was not without some anxious moments early on when Maryland took a 5 point lead with about 9 minutes to go in the first half, but after that, it was all Tar Heels. I was surprised that Maryland was able to run with us at the beginning, but Coach Williams told the team to keep running and that Md. would break. It certainly appears that was the key to victory and I am now of the opinion that it is the biggest strength of this team. If I am correct, we can expect to fall behind in some games between now and the end of the season, but our depth and conditioning should serve us well as the game wears on.
There is no question but that the chemistry on this team right now is far superior to what it was last year. Sportswriters like to explain it by saying that it took time for the players to "buy into" Coach Williams' style of play and they may be right. I have a little trouble with this, however, because anybody with a brain knows that the team had every reason to buy into the new system after the turmoil of the previous regime. On top of that, nobody could question Coach Williams' credentials as they undoubtedly had done with Coach Doherty. Doherty had simply not demonstrated that his way worked and that plus problems dealing with individual players added up to a bad situation. There was every reason to buy into the new system but maybe some things can't be rushed. I know I like what I see when a player makes a pass to another for a better shot when, in fact, he had a good shot to begin with. Team basketball has become more than a cliché. You can literally see it on the floor.
We all should feel good about the win until about midnight last night. That's the way it works in basketball. If you feel good for more than several hours, you find yourself in trouble for the next game. We have other business to attend to. Ga. Tech. comes to Chapel Heel this week and based on what I saw on TV last night, we should be able to take them. One of the Maryland players commented on our intensity and was most complimentary about our team. He said, however, and he is correct, that we are beatable if certain things happen. Injuries, off night with our shooting, or a lapse in intensity could bring us a lot of grief. It's funny watching people search for things to criticize and having trouble succeeding. Quentin Thomas has been the object of much criticism, but it appears to have let up a bit after yesterday's game. I don't know what they expected. Thomas is developing very nicely, but I will concede that is not performing at Felton's level yet, but did anyone honestly think he would be doing so at this point in the season. This team is deeper than any UNC team I can remember for a long time and I have to chuckle when I think of the comments made by either Mike Jarvis or Rick Majerus that depth was a problem for this team. Jarvis also said earlier in the year that Carolina was the most overrated team in the country, and I read this morning that he said that Duke was the most underrated team in the country. I really would like to know in what capacity Jarvis' son is connected with the Duke program. I've seen him on TV with the team, but I have never heard what his job is. One time I heard someone refer to him as a Manager. That seems strange unless the title Manager has been expanded somewhat from the time I used to play. I suspect it an internship called something else to enhance his resume when he tries to crack the coaching ranks.
Looks like we have a new toy in the Smith Center. I wasn't at the game but much has been written abut the new LED sign that we had installed just in time for the game. I originally thought the new equipment would replace the jumbotron (I know some say it isn't really a jumbotron) but that's not what it is. It is along the facade on the upper deck and can handle both text and photographs. I don't want to get off on this at this time, but I have always felt the scoreboard at the Smith Center was and is one of the worst I have ever seen. I've often wondered if a giant scoreboard could be placed in the center of the court like many other arenas, but I finally decided that it would be impractical due to the way the dome is constructed. Of course, I really believe it could be done if the desire and money were there, but there are other things that have a higher priority.
One last thing. I assume most of you are aware that the seats for the press have been moved this year. They were formerly under the basket at floor level opposite the student riser section. Now they are in the stands but still close to the floor. The seats formerly occupied by the press have been offered for sale and some of them but not all have been sold at rather premium prices. A press release announced the amount of revenue these new seats would bring into the Athletic Department coffers. My question is this. How can we make room for seats to produce additional revenue while at the same time denying there is anything that can be done to put more students near the playing area? The key to just about everything is desire. If we wanted to put the students under the basket, we would find a way to do it. Remember, when they said they couldn't put students under the basket where the risers are now. Not only did they find a way to put them there, the capacity of the Smith Center increased from 21,572 to 21,700. I honestly believe Coach Williams is going to insist that some of these needed changes take place. Did you see where he announced last week that he wanted the team to start practicing the habit of pointing to the individual responsible for an assist. Some have said the crowd used to chant "Assist" when this occurred in years past. I don't remember that, but wouldn't that be a good thing to bring back. There are so many things that UNC could do that are beyond the means of other institutions, but the "Carolina Way" often times stands in the way. I used to think the Carolina Way was a positive statement, but in recent years, I have started to react to it differently. Don't tell me that somebody with influence at Carolina couldn't convince Andy Griffith or James Taylor to put in a guest appearance at one of the games. I've never heard the Clef Hangers at the Smith Center. Carolina has numerous A Capella groups on campus and we have even received some national attention over this fact. Why not let them perform? I know, I know, we want music that charges up the players and these suggestions fall short on that count. Well then, issue the players headphones like Sean May uses in warm ups to accomplish this purpose.
I'll write later about my feelings regarding the Athletic Department. I've held my tongue long enough and I'm sure there are some who will not react positively to what I may say. I can take that as long as they don't question my loyalty to the institution. There are several ways to express loyalty.
" My own conviction constantly deepens that the next great creative chapter in the history of the nation is to be written here in the South...Somewhere in the South there must inevitably grow up an institution...which typifies and serves and guides this new civilization...My dream for the University of North Carolina is that she be nothing less than this."
Henry Woodburn Chase
President of the University of North Carolina, 1919