Take A Deep Breath

We have gotten to a well needed breaking point in the basketball season so maybe it's a good time for me to give my impressions thus far. Those of you who know me know that I am limited by my knowledge of the X's and O's of basketball but I have never professed to being an expert. I probably see the games pretty much as most Carolina fans do and I find much of what transpires in a game to not involve X's and O's at all.

I attended the Kentucky game and obviously was very disappointed in the outcome. In some ways, it reminded me of the UNC-KY. game 2 years ago where we were in pretty good shape at halftime, only to collapse in the second half and lose by more than I had anticipated.

First, let me say that watching this year's team is, for the most part, fun as opposed to watching last year's team which was an ordeal. Irrespective of the reasons for last year's team's (consecutive possessives-no small feat) performance, I assumed about mid-season that the team was not going to show significant improvement for the rest of the year. What, for most of my life, has been a pleasant experience literally turned into a nightmare. I found myself looking at the schedule, not to see who were playing but to count the number of games remaining so I could approximate the length of my misery. There was a little excitement in the last game when we almost pulled it off against Duke but not enough to offset the disappointment of what had proceeded it.

I don't think there is any disagreement from anyone over the fact that this year's team is very talented. The attention given to the fact that we are young has gotten old but it's true so we will continue to hear it and, if we are wise, consider it when evaluating the play of the team. In my opinion, this is the quickest team in the history of Carolina basketball and many thrills are in store for us before they leave Chapel Hill. Everyone can see that Sean May needs help on the inside and Grant can't be ready too soon to satisfy me. Williams has great potential but I don't think he is physically equipped to provide the kind of banging help I think we need. At 205 lbs., he is going to have trouble holding his ground and he is limited in the rebounding help he can provide. Felton has experienced a rude introduction to college ball but I am not worried about him at all. He has learned very quickly that what would work in high school oftentimes doesn't work at the college level. Phil Ford went through the same thing and I think by the end of January we will see significant progress in his adjustment. McCants is the key to this team as I see it. He is built like a tank and he has a good outside shot. The facts are pretty clear If, for any reason, any one of the three freshmen are out of the game, we are in trouble. That might change later but that's the way I see it at the present. Don't know if you could hear how quiet it got in the Smith Center Saturday when McCants went down but, for a moment, it reminded me of Worthy's injury his freshman year. I think everyone knew and knows that McCants has got to be available if we are going to be heard from this year. By the time you read this, you will know whether McCants' injury is serious or not.

I was pleased with the energy of the crowd. I took two of my friends with me who had never seen a game at Carolina and they were impressed. We just couldn't seem to get a stop in the second half to trigger a real rally or I'm convinced the crowd would have become a factor.

On the way down, we passed a bad auto/truck accident a short distance out of Richmond. I was driving and didn't get a chance to see as much as my traveling companions did but I saw enough to know it was bad-real bad. A double 18 wheeler had jack knifed off the interstate after demolishing a mini van. All in all, there were 6 vehicles involved and I concluded there had to have been fatalities involved. In this morning's newspaper, I learned the bad news. 5 people lost their lives in the accident which was initiated by a driver driving the wrong was on the interstate. Don't know if I have ever heard of that before and the fact that it occurred at 2:30 a.m. makes you wonder if alcohol was involved. I still shudder when I think of the statistics that say that 1 out of 10 drivers on a weekend are under the influence of alcohol. I try to keep that in mind when I am driving but there is only so much you can do to prevent an accident, particularly on the interstate with the high speeds involved.

It was a fun Saturday in Chapel Hill. I had made three calls earlier trying to determine street and road conditions but I still didn't know exactly what to expect. For those of you not in North Carolina, let we tell you the ice storm was really bad. We could see evidence of it 50 miles out of Chapel Hill and, even though all the streets and roads we traveled were passable, there were still some very slippery spots.

All of the stores and restaurants on East Franklin St. were closed when we arrived around 9:30 but they slowly started to open as the day moved on. The University had power but the town was still struggling. The owner of Carolina Pride let us in and we looked at his merchandise with the help of a flashlight that he provided. I bought something I didn't even need to show my appreciation for him letting me and my friends in. We ate in Lenoir Hall and I plan to write later about that facility. For those who haven't been back to Chapel Hill lately or couldn't make a visit on football Saturdays, you are in for a pleasant shock at what you will find.

The street people were still on East Franklin St.- power or no power. One that stood out from the rest had a cardboard sign with large letters that read "A damn tree fell on my tent. I sure could use some of your spare change." Young white male not dressed very well and I had sympathy for his plight, if true, but I thought that was a very strange way to go about trying to elicit sympathy. Of course, I hear that drugs have not disappeared from Chapel Hill and they could have been involved when he was planning his solicitation strategy.