ACC Tournament 2003 — History for the taking

Well, it's the day of another ACC basketball tournament -- the annual first "sick" day for a lot of people in ACC land, from school kid to near retiree.

For Wolfpack fans, it's a time -- prior to tipoff, of course -- to reflect on history. Recent history -- such as last year's title-game loss and the what-if asterisk of being the last team to defeat the eventual national champions, Maryland. Past history -- such as the ignominy of just hoping to make it to this portion of the tournament out of the play-in game, which in ACC circles came to bear the name of the Wolfpack coach as the "Les Robinson Invitational."

And then there's the Wolfpack history of legend. The early ACC tourney dominance of Everett Case. Norm Sloan's flat-out unbeatable squads of titans. Jim Valvano's improbable runs of '83 and '87.

It's been 20 years since V first cut down the nets wearing Wolfpack red. As we all know, that team went on to cut down more nets, along with them all the giants who strode the hardwood at the time (and, not to mention, a few memorably loud-mouthed sports journalists).

But perhaps there are a few Pack fans not familiar enough with that 1983 team to know that it finished fourth in the ACC, and many thought their only ticket to the NCAA tournament was by winning the ACC tournament. And that was a tall order: it meant beating defending national champion UNC-Chapel Hill (featuring Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins) and Ralph Sampson's Virginia.

In other words, the 1983 team sat in much the same position as the Wolfpack squad of 2003 sits now. Many think the Pack have to win it all to go to the Dance. And that means likely taking down the defending national champion, and possibly Duke or Wake Forest as well.

Tall order? You bet. Can it be done? Absolutely.

Coach V, were he here, could tell you how it's done. Number one: Dream. That means believing in yourself despite what everyone else says. Number two: Persist. That means clinging to your dream, and not just clinging, but fighting for it. Number three: Love. That means clinging to your teammates as you fight together for your dream.

V said, ten years ago:

"When you have a goal, when you have a dream, and when you have a belief, and you throw in that concept of never stop believing and loving in each other, you can accomplish miracles. And that's what the '83 team taught."

There's history to be made, boys. It starts today. Go Wolfpack!


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