Tommy: The Fine Line

After my New Year's Day column, I received an inordinate amount of emails from readers wondering just what in the world I meant when I closed the piece with "Someone pass the Pepto."

You can find my answer either by recalling from memory or reviewing a tape of last Saturday night's game down in Miami. That game was and will continue to be a microcosm of the 2002-03 season – bad in parts, good in parts – an emotional ride throughout.

Get used to it.

Now before that last statement is taken the wrong way, let me explain. I've said, and continue to believe, that this team can beat anyone on any given night and can turn around and lose to anyone on any given night. Along with snatching victory from the jaws of defeat (Rutgers), the Heels have proved Saturday night they can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory just as well.

It's not just a Carolina phenomena. That is how it goes in sports in general, on every level. Toss in youth and/or pressure and/or a hostile environment and it's Murphy's Law-time. If your history of watching sporting events consisted of only those games from this past weekend, that point was proven tenfold.

As a fan of Carolina basketball, now would be a good time to find a happy medium and stick to it. When the Heels win, enjoy and relish the victory. But don't go overboard. No need to smack talk co-workers, friends or others that may be a fan of rival teams. Is it fun to do? Of course. Will doing so this year get you familiar with the taste of shoe polish? You bet it will. Why? Because of the one thing that makes sports so nerve racking. The fine line between winning….

….and losing. This year, probably more so than any of the past decade, the line this Carolina basketball team walks is as thin as it gets.


Is it my imagination or has officiating gotten completely out of hand. Yes, it's easy to blame the ref for everything that goes wrong in a game, but at some point, things have to improve from the ‘third team' in the game. No, bad calls are rarely the true reason for one team winning or losing a game. Whether it's football's 60 minutes or basketball's 40, there are too many circumstances to blame one call for an outcome of a game. If you don't handle business, give up a big lead and lose (Carolina vs. Miami and Giants vs. 49ers) then no excuses are valid.

(Sadly, a ‘true reason' came in Friday night's Fiesta Bowl. However you feel about the Miami Hurricanes – the football version – they were robbed, plain and simple. That game was over when Ohio State WR Chris Gamble dropped the fourth down pass to end the first OT. But, while the Hurricanes – the basketball version – may have been the benefactors of a seemingly timely payback, Jawad Williams still had to make three freebies just to tie. A tall task to ask of anyone.)

In each of those games, each losing team held a lead and failed to continue to do what got them to that point. Why? That's the $64,000 question that is asked more than any other. Rare is a team that can ‘turn it off and on at will.' Rarer still is a there a young basketball team that can accomplish that feat.

All the more reason to stand back and enjoy watching the hammer drop where it may

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