Dan: The State of the State of the State of the...

We'd like to welcome new columnist Dan Baker, who enters the <i>IC</i> fray today. Baker brings a unique style and touches on a variety of hoops subjects -- just check it out for yourselves.

I know everything. No one has actually told me that. It's just something I know because, well, I know everything. Except for one thing - the stock market. I've legally changed my name to "Margin Call."

One of the things that I know is that there is a secret to the Heels' season out there somewhere. I was prepared to do anything to find out what that secret was. I tried playing "Aye Zigga Zoomba" backwards while crossing Franklin Street barefoot, but all my speakers spit out was "just sit right back and you'll hear a tale….." I felt like I was back in the '01-'02 season. The only thing missing was an unexplainable lifetime supply of clothing and an eternal debate over a tall redhead and a short brunette. I had the shipwreck part right, though. Not even Wrong Way Feldman could have saved them.

Last year, talk in Heelville was rampant that Carolina needed more athletes. My grandfather used to say, "athlete, shmathlete." He also used to say, "insight, shminsight" and a lot of other words just by adding "shm" to them. But, if Midnight Madness was any indication, the Heels have plenty of shmathletes. And, as we all know, and if not, I'm telling everyone, that the Heels are made up of predominantly young shmathletes and young coaches (or is that shmoaches?), and I hope like heck that every one of them gets shminsight very quickly.

So, here's what I want. I want precision. I want identity of body and mind. I want fluidity. I want opponents' eyes to bulge out. I want names taken. I want nets cut down.

Wanting all that presumes that there are things that I don't want. I don't want disarray. I don't want disharmony. I don't want reporters to consistently have to report consistent problems. I certainly don't want dark blue to ever have the guts to lift their eyes off the dirt when contemplating sky blue. And, as far as wuffies are concerned, puh-lease; it is their birthright to know that the world is conspiring against them.

At this point at least, Carolina is battling other schools for only one recruit – Brian Butch. Just one of them, Kansas, is tenuously considered a "family" school. But, hey, there's family and then there's family.

Down the road, as Coach Grecian Formula battles his former player and assistant coach, Quin Snyder, the current coach at Missouri, for the number two player in the Class of 2003, Luol Deng, we know that there are ritual burnings of canisters of hair mousse in the moated tower on the Princeton Lite campus. Other than that, things remain the same over there. Their students hop up and down and get tutored on how to be spontaneous, all the while haranguing the radio waves about Dean Smith beating them into submission.

In Raleigh, there is no family to speak of, thus no family battles, although they did just lose their number one target from the Class of 2003, point guard Mustafa Shakur, to Arizona. That was a conspiracy, though, starting from Chapel Hill and reaching all the way to Capitol Hill, and it is keeping NC State from getting to the top. Their fans have analyzed the situation using the same faculties that caused the dubbing of "Mad Max" into American. They've even run out of aluminum foil hats.

Back to us. I've decided that the only way to move forward is to have Williams, Felton, McCants and Company just pound all comers into submission. With or without a center. Or, as my grandfather would say, "center, shmenter."

Having experienced the deluge of free speech in the wake of last year's season-long butt whupping, from the players to the coach, to the ex-players to the message boards, I've come up with a way to deal with this deluge - let me do the talking. I know everything.

Dan Baker is a lawyer with offices in Moorestown, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. His e-mail address is dbaker@lawsgr.com.

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