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UNC Looking Good Again

November 19, 2002 Columns No Comments

Uh-oh, UNC Looks Mad . . .

by Jon Gonzalez

Let’s say for the past 25-30 years that you’ve been invited to the big dance. That kind of streak would have anyone believing their one of the prettiest around (although I didn’t say it, this analogy looks geared toward women). After a while, it would seem like going to this supreme shindig was automatic, something that was going to happen regardless. But what if it all stopped, what if the prettiest girl around suddenly wasn’t so pretty anymore and that dance invitation never came. That kind of disappointment could be damaging to anyone’s psyche, let alone the beauty queen. But lets face it, if you’ve gone to the ball 27 straight times and miss out one year, you’re going to want to go back, ASAP!

UNC has been one of the darlings of college basketball for as long as college basketball has been cool. Do not think for one second that last years disaster of a season didn’t make that program look itself in the mirror and ask, “Am I still pretty anymore?”

The self-conscious Heels didn’t waste anytime in correcting their little self-image problem and coach Matt Doherty went out and got some of the best makeup and clothes around to give his team a makeover Mary Kay would be proud of.

Holy Maybeline! The makeover looked pretty good Monday night against Penn State. Ok, Jerry Dunn’s Nittany Lions may be glorified house cats, but nothing can be taken away from the Tar Heels. They were runnin’ and gunnin’, dunkin’ and drivin’. For a second, I thought was watching ESPN Classic and those old UNLV teams. But the tuner was on the right channel and UNC was on the money. Rashad McCants had two dunks in the span of what, 2 and a half seconds, and Raymond Felton reminded the Tar Heel faithful of what an exciting point guard looks like. And last but not least, Sean May showed signs of how he could dominate the paint for years to come. And oh yeah, those other guys look good too.

Ok, UNC’s success will hinge on stalwarts like Jackie Manuel, Jawad Williams and Will Johnson, but last night and for the rest of the season, the microscope will be on those three starting freshmen. UNC has never started three freshmen, but if you got it, you might as well flaunt it, as least that’s what Matt Doherty figures. But it is not as if Doherty has a choice. The team was miserable last season, so playing three-prized freshman and letting them mature as they go is a no brainer.

Many would say that riding freshman for success is a recipe for disaster if you’re expecting to win now. North Carolina wants to win like everyone else of course, but the expectations still have to remain at an even level, despite what fans and boosters might think. But if the team plays like it did in obliterating Penn State (its been a while since the Heels obliterated anybody, so if feels strange to say it), visions of the last freshman laden team that created a stir will come to mind. Did I hear anyone say the Fab Five?

Yes they have talent, and yes they have high energy. But what UNC also has is a chip on its shoulder. The Heels expect to go to the Tournament every single year and last year was an aberration, at least that’s what the Tar Heels think. So while the rest of the country, especially the ACC, should have gotten in their shots while they a had a chance, UNC is up off the canvas and ready to swing, again. And oh yeah, like I said, back and mad as hell.

So while it’s early, it’s not too early to jump on the bandwagon before everyone else does and declare that the Tar Heels are back and looking pretty good.

Doesn’t that shade of blue really bring out their eyes?


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