From the Risers: Fan Support

New <i>Inside Carolina</i> contributor Sherrell McMillan's From the Risers column addresses the role of Tar Heel fans in response to the team's early season struggles.

When the Heels tipped off against Indiana and the streaky-shooting Hoosiers, plenty of good seats were available.
When the Heels got within two points mid-way through the first half, plenty of good seats were available.
When the Heels were down fourteen with eight minutes remaining, plenty of good seats were available.
Finally, when the Heels were down only ten with two minutes remaining, many more good seats became available.

What does this tell us?

This problem can be analyzed and approached in many ways. We could equate the lack of fan support to the way the team has played. Honestly, losses to Hampton and Davidson don't exactly get everyone excited about Carolina basketball – not to mention that this was only the second time in seventy-five years that UNC began the season with a 0-2 record. We've seen awful shooting, turnover after turnover, and two of the most (Weber State aside) embarrassing losses in the history of our program.

However, it's too easy to give up now. We as Tar Heel fans must continue to support our team. For the past 40 years, we have dominated the landscape of college basketball. Teams would come to Chapel Hill and simply wilt because of the amazing legacy and history that surrounded this place. In close games that included UNC, everyone knew what was going to happen. The fans, the opposing coaches, the opposing team. Carolina was going to win, plain and simple. Just take a second and think about all of the amazing events you've witnessed with our beloved Tar Heels over the last 40 years…

The "almost alley" from Ed Cota to Vince Carter off the backboard against Duke in 1998. Rick Fox's game winning shot against No. 1-seeded Oklahoma in the 1990 NCAA tournament. The triple-overtime National Championship victory over Wilt Chamberlain and a powerful Kansas team. In 1984, the last game in Carmichael, Matt Doherty forces overtime against the hated Blue Devils. "The Shot" by Michael Jordan that gave Dean Smith his first National Championship and began the career of the greatest basketball player of all-time.

My fellow Heel fans, we've been blessed all these years to witness these great players, teams, and coaches. However, this year is something different. An entirely different beast from anything that has been seen in Chapel Hill in a long time. That's why we must repay our players and our program. We must show up.

It's our turn to provide the players with the memories and images they will never forget. Now, more than ever, we should shower down upon them positive support, and reaffirm our love. It's obvious that this Carolina team isn't on par with the many past great Tar Heel squads that went to Final Fours and included All-Americans. Nevertheless, is that a reason not to support them? No, this is the time when fans (students, alumni, and whomever) should enthusiastically give the Heels everything we have.

So as coach Doherty has already done, a challenge is being thrown your way. Continue to come to the games, show up on time, cheer loudly, and stay late. Our boys deserve it.

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