Tommy: The Return

Some will say it was just Clemson. Big deal. Whoopee! The Heels beat the Tigers in Chapel Hill for what, the 356th straight time!? So what.

Those folks would be right about one thing. It was just Clemson. But more importantly, it was an ACC win, at home, that the Heels had to have. No excuses. None. Broken bones, upset stomachs, foul trouble. Nope, none of that mattered. The Heels had to beat the Tigers last night.

And they came out and did it. With a return of the ‘swagger' no less.

When ‘swagger' returned, Clemson didn't have a chance. The Tigers, with Edward "I've got the Will Solomon green light" Scott, made it interesting. A few missed Carolina foul shots made it almost nauseating. But with the swagger back and on display early, I never doubted Larry Shyatt and his troops would retreat back to Death Valley with its Oh for Chapel Hill streak intact.

Speaking of foul, being in foul trouble is about as bad as it can get for a baller. You get it going, knock in a couple shots and the next thing you know, tweet-tweet - you're on the bench. Stewing and sulking. Those refs, man they robbed me. I didn't touch that guy! Hey manager, bring me water. At least when you can't throw it in the ocean, you can do other things to help the team. With foul trouble, ugh.

Rashad McCants is Carolina's key. He's the guy to carry this team. Without Sean May, the Heels will struggle, especially against top echelon teams. But, the Heels still have a chance to win every time they step on the court even with the big fella on the bench.

Without McCants, the Heels are average. Clemson average. Last night, with McCants on the bench with that foul trouble proved that. While McCants treaded perilously close to the thin line separating playing/sitting when he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, you worried. But, you knew he'd return. And with the ‘X' in tow, you knew he'd do something special.

When things were said and done, McCants tallied 20 points in just 22 minutes of action, nine straight for the Heels in the decisive punch to the collective Tiger gut. He wasn't alone as Raymond Felton and Jawad Williams carried a big load, but he was the difference.

Carolina's X factor.


I've said it all year. This Carolina team, these Carolina players, this season could be special. Losing one of the best big men in the land dimmed much of that, but there's still plenty to be had this season. Playing with the ‘swagger' as the Heels did against the Tigers won't guarantee wins against the rest of the ACC, but it does guarantee the Heels can make a lot of teams nervous throughout the season.


If you aren't a follower of recruiting, specifically football recruiting, you are missing out on one of the stories of the past five years with Carolina athletics. Coach John Bunting and his staff are building a great class, perhaps the best ever for Carolina football.

Couple that fact with last season's 3-9 mark, and another area school getting unprecedented media coverage for "their best season ever," and what Bunting and company are doing is simply amazing. While it's not over until the ink on the Letter of Intents are dry, visions of Signing Day 2002's debacle are all but gone. (In case you missed last year, think in terms of a day on the water with many fish on the hook only to lose most of them at the boat's edge.)

While I'd be way out of my element to try and discuss each of the current Carolina commitments here, I would request that you take the time to read all about them here at IC. These are the guys that will put Carolina back in the realm that the '96 and '97 teams proved was possible for Carolina Football to achieve.

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