Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy the Show


One of the few downsides of being a Tar Heel basketball fan is that you are spoiled. You expect perfection, and anything less is a disappointment. If the Heels win by 15, you say they should have won by 30. If they lose a game, it’s because Roy didn’t call a timeout not because it just wasn’t their day or they were playing a talented team on their home court. How dare Kendall Marshall commit a turnover? Put Stilman White in now! Hell, the Tar Heels are the only team in the country who can disappoint their fans by winning a game 99-49. Why couldn’t they have scored 100 points? I wanted biscuits dammit! I’ll admit that I am guilty of it too. During Tuesday night’s game against Miami, even when UNC was up by as much as 20, I still grimaced and yelled at the television every time John Henson or Tyler Zeller missed a shot right under the basket. It’s kind of like being the parent of a straight A student. B plusses are unacceptable.

Much like the 2005 and the 2009 team, this year’s team is under extreme pressure to win the National Championship. The Tar Heels have been the favorites to cut down the nets in New Orleans since Barnes, Zeller and Henson all announced they would not be entering the NBA draft. It is a tremendous burden for the team to carry. Right after the Heels loss to UNLV, I wrote a brief piece called “Why I’m Not Worried About the UNLV loss and You Shouldn’t Be Either.” The loss should be even less troublesome now as UNLV has proven to be a formidable foe for any team as they are currently ranked #12. UNC’s only other loss this season was by a point to Kentucky in Lexington. Kentucky is also a highly talented team with the potential to take it all as well. Aside from the two losses the 2011-2012 the Tar Heels have won 15 games by an average of 25 points.

Yet fans, analysts and commentators alike constantly ask the question: “What is this team missing?” Well, gee I guess it would be nice if we could have a leprechaun riding a unicorn at every game. Or how about a topless mud wrestling match during halftime for all the guys? I know, let’s resurrect Abbott and Costello and get them to call every game instead of Montross and Angell. Sorry to be so facetious, but if you ask me the North Carolina Men’s Basketball team is doing just fine thank you. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad it is January and not March, and I’m pretty sure Roy Williams is as well. I think this team still needs to mature a little, but ACC play and a couple of meetings with Duke should care of that.

Critics also like mention the lack of toughness on this year’s squad. But, I’ve noticed something in the past two games against Boston College and Miami. Teams and coaches have bought into the notion that UNC isn’t tough so they have taken it to the Heels (Zeller especially), and games have become a little more “chippy”. I’ve also seen Zeller respond to this kind of play, and I’ve seen the look in his eyes when opponents have given him a cheap shot or tried to outmuscle him. A lot of people probably said Tyler Hansbrough lacked toughness until they saw blood streaming down his face courtesy of Gerald Henderson. I think a lot of times composure may be misinterpreted as passiveness, and this year’s team is very composed.

I am a Tar Heel fan, and like you I will hold my breath until the last play of the season. I’ll put my head in my hands every time Henson misses a free throw and when Hairston pulls up for a contested, ill-fated 3 pointer when Barnes was wide open in the corner. It’s part of being a fan. It’s what we do. But, I’m not going to critique my team or second guess my coach who has won two titles in the past seven years. This is a very good basketball team, and they are going to win a lot more games this season, just how many is yet to be determined. So until there are no more ticks on the clock, I suggest everyone calm down and bask in the glory of being a Carolina Basketball fan. Next time you see a fellow Tar Heel, don’t sit down and discuss their weaknesses, depth or free throwing shooting. Just smile and say, “How ‘Bout Them Tar Heels!”