I'm sure Tar Heel fans everywhere enjoyed yesterday's win over the UVA Cavaliers, but it was particularly satisfying to Tar Heels who live in Virginia for several reasons. There was a time when UNC could count on defeating UVA in just about every sport, but things have changed in recent years. We still do well when compared with UVA if all sports competition is considered, for example ranking in the Director's Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup), but we have not fared nearly as well in the high profile sports. We haven't defeated the UVA footballers in Charlottesville since the early 80s and we have lost the last 5 in University Hall and 7 out of the last 10 in basketball overall. I haven't seen it written or heard it said, but I'm pretty sure that yesterday's game in University Hall was the last time the Heels will play in that facility. I'm sure some, if not all of our players, will shed no tears. I believe the new multi purpose John Paul Jones arena will be ready for the 06-07 season. University Hall was constructed in the late 60s on land where I lived in Charlottesville during my initial part of my stay in Charlottesville. I lived in Copeley Hill, the UVA student housing facility, when I first went to UVA in 1960. Real estate prices are unbelievable in Charlottesville and that explains why I stayed with the students until I could save enough money to afford a house in Charlottesville.
U Hall has never been a friendly place for the Heels even before the most recent run of 5 straight losses. The Carolina game was always a sellout when Coach Smith ran things and even when UVA had mediocre or poor teams, they always seemed to give Carolina trouble. There, of course, were a few exceptions.
Long time Tar Heel fans can remember '75 when a 12-13 Cavalier squad beat a Phil Ford-Mitch Kupchak powerhouse 65-62. It happened again in '86 when Olden Polynice and Tom Sheehy whipped the #1 ranked Heels with Brad Dougherty and Kenny Smith, 86-73. It happened in '94 when UVA ( 18-13) defeated UNC which was ranked #4 at the time, 81-77. The Heels had Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace on that team. Anybody remember Curtis Staples?
So yesterday was a good day to be a Tar Heel in the Commonwealth. Oh, I almost forgot that Virginia Tech defeated us this past season in football. So if we are going to expand the scope of our glee in defeating Virginia teams by including Virginia Tech, let's not forget that we defeated both UVA and Virginia Tech this year in basketball on their home courts by an identical margin of 34 points. We must be considered equal opportunity inflictors of pain as far as these two schools are concerned. In case anyone is interested, we were 10 1/2 point favorites going into yesterday's game.
Even though he is not one of my favorites, Pete Gillen's situation is so bad that I actually feel sorry for him. What can he say? He says he thinks UVA will do better, but what choice does he have if he wants to survive According to reports, he was allowed to coach this year rather than being dismissed after last season only after he agreed to lower the figure involved if a buy out of his contract occurs. Can you imagine going to potential donors for the new arena and asking for a donation with the basketball program in the condition it is in? The buyout, according to reports, will cost around $4,000,000, they are $35,000,000 short of their goal on fund raising for the JPJ arena and then there is the question of how much it will cost for a replacement. Rick Carlisle's name has been bandied around. but UVA must know that someone with Carlisle's resume will not come cheap. I know UVA has a lot of financial resources, but there has to be a limit somewhere. Otherwise, there would be no funding shortfall for the Jones Center.
A lot of people are wondering if Gillen will make it to the end of the season. He started out with a flash when he first took over the reigns at UVA and they were afraid they would lose him, so they gave him a 10 year contract. We tried it one time with Dick Crum and lived to regret it. I'm sure the figure will be less than 100% of the full figure included in the contract, but no wonder Terry Holland decided he had had enough and needed a change of scenery. Another thing to watch for in college athletics. More and more, it looks like good assistant coaches in football are demanding and receiving more than 1 year contracts. Could basketball be far behind? Historically, position coaches have been given 1 year contracts and coordinators have been given 2 year contracts. There have been several instances recently of coordinators receiving 3 year contracts and position coaches getting 2 year contracts. That trend is not likely to be reversed any time soon.
Enough about the Wahoos. They are not as bad as they looked yesterday, but I'm sure they are not looking forward to the return game in Chapel Hill. Virginia has done only slightly better than Clemson in CH and I don't see them regrouping to the extent that they win on our home court. Stranger things have happened, however, and Maryland's win at Duke this year proves the point that you never know. There is some truth to the fact that Virginia may not have had "rested legs" due to their game on Thursday night against Virginia Tech away from home. Carolina was rested, not having played for an entire week, but every ACC team will get a similar "off" week as a result of the new scheduling pattern required by expansion.
In the meantime, we enter into a critical phase ( don't all phases seem to be critical?) on Thursday by playing the Wolfpack in the Smith Center. I don't think there will as much red in attendance as there was for our meeting in Chapel Hill during the 8-20 season. Man, have I learned how to be appreciative of Carolina basketball. I always knew that the bottom could fall out in a given season, but I didn't really believe it until it actually happened. After 8-20, I truly believe it now, and I am appreciative of every morsel the White Phantoms give me. ( Oh, I forgot. We stopped using WPs in '48).
For basketball, it seems to be a good time to be a Tar Heel. Or at least it is in Virginia.