This post is about basketball. You have been warned. Commencing obsessive fan mode:
I teared up a little when I watched Kendall Marshall address reporters last night and while I read Adam Lucas’ column when I should have been sleeping. I wasn’t mourning because the likelihood that this team will hang a national championship banner from the rafters is much slimmer now than it was 24 hours ago. I was sad for Kendall, a fantastic player and from all accounts, a really nice kid. Marshall, like so many before him, embodies the class that makes Carolina basketball. The Carolina Way is real, and it creates a team-first atmosphere that attracts players we are proud of.
Considering the NCAA sanctions against UNC’s football team that were handed down last week, that may seem a little naive. The expectation when Butch Davis was hired was that we would get much better, very quickly, and that’s not an easy burden for any team to carry. The size of a football team also makes it more difficult to execute Dean Smith style recruiting, getting the players who fit the philosophy the best, rather than just the best players available. There were certainly individuals who did wrong (both players and staff.) But as an institution UNC handled what came to light with grace and humility, and that’s the Carolina way, too. Hopefully we’ll learn something from the whole mess.
I’m obviously very proud to be a Tar Heel. And that’s not going to change even if we lose next weekend. I may shudder at the thought that State (STATE!) might even be the ones who knock us out. (May God grant us His favor that this not come to pass.) We’ve lived through worse as fans, like the 8-20 season I endured as a student. Be sad for Kendall, but don’t be sad for Carolina fans. We’ve always got a new recruit class to look forward to and the promise of another run at the Championship.
In being sad for Kendall, it is natural to have a little righteous indignation at the dirty play that is getting far too common in the NCAA. Let’s push for better officiating and for teams to stop promoting thuggery. And while we’re at it, we should also take a stand against the flop and all who encourage it. (I’m looking at you, Coach K.)