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Carolina Blues

January 18, 2002 Columns No Comments

Carolina Blues

by Bill Thayer

I couldn’t force myself to watch the Florida State/North Carolina game last
night. I tried, I really, REALLY tried to sit and watch as the Seminoles and
Tar Heels battled for the right not to play in the Les Robinson Invitational
(aka the 8/9 game for those of you not in ACC territory). Alas, I gave up.

“Does Matt Doherty realize that nobody on this team knows how to dribble?” I
was asked.

“Kris Lang is the best player on the team? Are you kidding me, KRIS LANG?”
was another quote.

Time and time again, I heard Carolina jokes, but I can’t take it. This just
isn’t right. There is something unnatural about not feeling good about
beating the Tar Heels. Growing up, Carolina basketball was a staple. You
could always count on the Heels making the tournament, but this year…

I want to root against them. I’m supposed to root against them, but it’s
like a car wreck, interesting to look at, but you hope nobody was seriously
injured. I know that Melvin Scott isn’t ready for ACC play, but for his
sake, I hope this season doesn’t destroy him mentally. He could have been a
good player if he had time to develop.

For a few moments in their loss to Virginia, the Tar Heels showed life. And
I wanted them to do SOMETHING to make a win over Carolina have meaning
again. This is the program that has produced Michael Jordan, James Worthy,
Phil Ford and Brad Dougherty. This is Dean Smith, multiple national titles
and yearly top three ACC finishes.

But now, after losses to Hampton, Davidson and Florida State (not to mention
pulling out a victory against Binghamton) the glory of beating North
Carolina is gone. There will be no NCAA tournament or even a NIT appearance
if they continue to play this poorly. Next year’s solid recruiting class
will have the pressures of the entire Carolina nation on their collective
backs to resurrect the program to the heights it once reached and Matt
Doherty’s time at his alma mater may run out sooner rather than later.

I’ve heard people say how different the world has become since the September 11
attacks. I did not realize that college basketball would look so
differently as well.

Assorted Musings

• Congratulations to Marist College, who now is the team to beat in the
Metro Atlantic after their thrilling win over Manhattan. Led by point guard Sean
Kennedy, the Red Foxes will have a fight on their hands Tuesday as Manhattan
will be looking to return the favor. If Marist wins, pencil them in as the
MAAC rep in the big dance…

• I like what Mike Davis has his Indiana squad doing right now. After
fighting through a dangerous pre-conference slate, the Hoosiers have come
together and look like they will be the team to beat in the wide open Big
Ten. Jared Jeffries is evolving as a go-to player in only his second
season. If Tom Coverdale can continue his hot outside shooting, they could
be a tough out in March…

• As Missouri SID Chad Moller put it, who stole the Tigers mojo? Until
Arthur Johnson and Wesley Stokes decide to play every night and Kareem Rush
does more than sit back and launch threes, this team isn’t ready for the
postseason. I think they may be a better team with Ricky Paulding on the
floor than they are with Clarence Gilbert. I like Paulding’s more
aggressive style, which Rush has yet to provide this year…

• Look out A-10. Adrian “Whole Lotta Game” Walton is heating up. Now if Bob
Hill would start acting like a head coach and get his big men involved…

• Salim Stoudamire is perfect from the line? Washington State’s
announcement may have been the best D played by any Cougar in Pac Ten play
so far…

• Keep an eye on UConn freshman Emeka Okafor. Okafor has a very fluid game
inside and blocks anything near him. Okafor rarely gets in foul trouble,
and from what I’ve heard, is a very good student. Speaking of the Huskies,
SOMEBODY give them some respect. Every week they win road games, every
week, they not only stay out of the top 25, but also LOSE votes. This is a
young, talented squad who is only getting better…

• Why is Stanford still in the top 25? I don’t know which team to select
as the biggest disappointment so far this year, the Cardinal, St. Joes or

• While I’m on the topic of polls, it’s a joke that Florida was not ranked
number one this week. They have been playing some of the best basketball in
the country and their loss (to Arizona on a neutral court in mid-November)
is more understandable than Duke’s (at an unranked Florida State squad).
Either way, winner of the Duke/Maryland war would get my vote as top team in
the nation next week…

• Ray Allen still has the smoothest jump shot I’ve ever seen…

• Oregon fans, get it straight. Your homecourt is MacArthur Court. NEW
plays at The Pit.


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