My last piece addressed the need for loyalty among Tar Heel fans during a season that will no doubt see its share of ups and downs. Shortly after our loss to Texas, I began reading Stickin’ by political strategist, James Carville. I bought it in support of the Charles City, IA Lion’s Club at one of their book sales back in October and wasn’t really sure of the subject matter. But I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the Ragin’ Cajun. As I read through the first 50 pages, I finally understood the meaning of the title as Carville discussed his reasons for remaining loyal to President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair. First and foremost, Carville stood by Clinton because he had been a good friend to him, and he argued that you stand by your friends when they stumble and do something stupid like fool around with a 22 year old intern. So what the hell does this have to do with Tar Heel basketball you might ask?
It has to do with the secondary reason Carville gave as to why he defended Bill Clinton during the waning years of his Presidency. Another reason that James Carville put both his reputation and integrity on the line was because he didn’t want the competition to win. He felt that Kenneth Star and other D.C. insiders were conducting a witch hunt and their success would be a major setback to Carville’s own political party. As many of you know, James Carville is also a HUGE LSU fan and graduate. Carville explained that while he roots for the Tigers, he also takes pleasure when Ole Miss loses. As we all know, the UNC/Duke rivalry dwarfs any animosity that there may be between the Rebels and the Tigers. My point is that from time to time there are going to be basketball seasons when for whatever reason Duke has a more talented team than the Tar Heels. This is might be one of those years.
So while we may not have as many wins to celebrate with the Tar Heels this year, we can bond together whenever Duke falters. As I sit typing this, I am watching Duke lead an unranked Santa Clara squad by 3 at Cameron in the 2nd half. I’m sure Duke will wind up winning the game by double-digits and your average college basketball fan will not recognize how overrated Duke is when they see the final box score on Sportscenter. Incidentally, neither will many so-called Duke fans who don’t actually start watching Duke play until it’s against Carolina for the first time. I will admit that Duke is better than I thought they would be this year, and Mason Plumlee is a much improved player. But, am I watching the best team in the country right now? No. Should Mason Plumlee’s name be mentioned among the possible Wooden award winners? That IS a joke, right? Nonetheless, ESPN will continue their love affair with the Blue Devils, and Coach K will continue to get the flop calls in Cameron. So, while we Tar Heels like to pick at each other and lash out in frustration among ourselves, let’s not forget what’s important in the world of college basketball. It’s still early, but if it turns out the Tar Heels don’t have a team that can win it all this year, as long as Duke doesn’t, it will be a good season. I predict that Duke is so egregiously overrated this year that they will not only be knocked off their pedestal very soon, but the legs will be chopped off. So, remember Tar Heels in what may be a rocky road this season that relishing a Duke loss is almost as satisfying as Carolina victory. In the face of adversity, let’s not forget to join hands and HATE DUKE!