UNC Basketball: The Sky is Still Carolina Blue


Waking up this morning, it’s hard to believe that our basketball season is over.  Our Tar Heels fought with incredible resilience to get as far as the Elite 8 without Kendall Marshall but it feels as if we’ve been robbed.  This team will go down as one of the greatest Carolina teams to not win a title.  As far back as last April, this was supposed to be our season.  The championship was ours for the taking and back in December, everyone and their mother were hoping for the epic rematch of UK-UNC in the title game.  Now, we sit on the sidelines, watching how the rest of the tournament plays out with a distinct lack of interest.  However, as is the case with all disappointments, we should reflect on what was as opposed to what could have been.

First things first, every Carolina fan in the nation should be grateful to Tyler Zeller for the four years that he has given UNC. He’s not only an incredible athlete and competitor but also an Academic All American.  We shouldn’t just admire him for his playing ability but his dedication to education as well.  It’s sad to think that the game against Kansas will be Zeller’s last game in Carolina blue, but we will no doubt follow his NBA career with extreme interest and enthusiasm.  We owe a great deal of gratitude to him not only as fans but as fellow Tar Heels.  In a year in which UNC has been slammed with NCAA sanctions against our football team for academic infractions, Zeller has stood out as a shining example for what a student athlete should be.  Simply put, he’s one of the best that Carolina has to offer and we look forward to putting his jersey in the rafters.

It’s hard not to wonder if this was also Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Kendall Marshall’s last game as well.  As a Tar Heel, I certainly hope not. The entire Carolina community has rallied around Kendall Marshall as a player and a person.  While I think it’s difficult to criticize players for their performance when an integral member of the team is missing, Harrison Barnes left much to be desired in terms of his playing ability.  I can’t see his draft stock going anywhere but down after that performance.  Because of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if all three decided to stay for another year.  Just like when we lost to Kansas in 2008, if all three came back next year, I could see another 2009-esque run. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Harrison and John both left either.  Their future is up in the air right now, and truthfully, I doubt either know for certain what their plans are right now.  That being said, I firmly believe that Kendall will be back for another run.

With all of this being said, it’s still important to remember this season as a good one. This is the team that won it’s second straight ACC regular season title.  We went 14-2 in the ACC regular season.  We made it to the Elite 8 with four major injuries–season ending for Kendall Marshall, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and nagging ankle and wrist injuries to John Henson. This was also a year in which we beat Duke by 18 in Cameron after being beat on a buzzer beater in the Dean Dome. Also the same year in which we made it three rounds further than Duke (and further than any other ACC team for that matter) after they got knocked out by 15 seed Lehigh.

So no. This season wasn’t what we wanted it to be.  There will be no triumph in New Orleans. So be it.  Our team played their hearts out and made Tar Heel Nation proud to call them their own.  We don’t know what the future holds.  But the sky is still Carolina blue and as long as that holds true, our future will be bright. And who knows? Maybe next year is THE year.