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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Heather and Gavin with tidings of compasion

Originally uploaded by j&mgorman.
So Gavin was kind enough to send this emissary from a UNC fan. I'm sure snopes would disprove it, but it was nice none-the-less.

God what a great season.

As Raymond Felton dribbled toward half court with a three point
lead and ten seconds remaining, I should have been ecstatic. I
should have been proud. I should have been yelling and
fist-pumping and taunting all of the Illinois fans in the
room. But, there was none of that. And then I realized that
somewhere deep inside, buried below my ACC pride and my North
Carolina upbringing, was that intangible something that all
true sports fans have: the ability to recognize when the wrong
team has won.
The Tar Heels are better than the Illini. They are better
athletes and better basketball players. There is no question.
But, watching the orange players disappear in the crowd as the
clock hit zero, I couldn't help but feel a little dirty.
I needed the Tar Heels to win. For days I had said that the
only thing worse than an all Big-Ten final would be an Illinois
win. For weeks I had guaranteed my friends that Illinois
couldn't make it through six rounds of top competition. So,
when it was all over, I should have rejoiced. Instead, I
I recanted everything I said about Illinois this year. I don't
know why it took so long for me to see. Maybe because Illinois
orange makes me nauseous. Maybe because I will never root for
a non-ACC team. But when the last game of the season ended, I
finally got it. Illinois plays the kind of basketball that
keeps this tournament so much fun. Like 'em or not, there is
no denying that the Illini are as well coached and fundamental
as any team in the country, and more so than Carolina.
What Illinois did this year, regardless of the relative
weakness of their conference, has to be commended. They didn't
have the players that most of the top teams had. Their coach
had less experience at this level than almost every coach that
made the Elite Eight. Still, they were minutes from cutting
down the nets.
I have to concede that if the Big-Ten coaches had ACC talent,
the ACC would be in trouble. Not to overlook the job Coach K
and Roy Williams did this year. Coach K made it clear that he
could take a girls softball team and still make the
tournament. And for Roy, considering the pressure and the
personnel, the national title is impressive. Trying to have
success in a team sport with a guy like Rashad McCants is like
trying to walk around naked without anyone noticing. As George
W might say, it takes some serious "strategery." So, credit to
But, this is exactly why the Carolina win was hardly
gratifying. While Illinois runs a brilliant system that relies
on contributions from 7 intelligent and well-trained students
of the game, Carolina plays a two-man game (regardless of which
two touch the ball) with little defense, and only has success
due to the fact that most of its players have supernatural
bodies and ridiculous athleticism. As much as I like watching
them "run and dunk," and as much as I like to see the ACC
succeed, I would prefer an ACC team to win in Illinois fashion.
I want to respect the champs and feel like their win means
something more than a resume builder for NBA scouts to ogle
over. But, I don't. And so, while I love seeing the sour
orange faces in the Chicago papers, today my face is blue. Not
Carolina Blue, and not Duke Blue. Just blue, because even
though my team won, we all lost something last night.


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