Your article about the Carolina/Duke game on Wednesday struck on Some very good points and I agree with most of them, however, I think that one issue about Carolina's team needs not to be forgotten. Doherty needs to go ahead and tell his team to go out on the court and have fun. This is important because this young team cannot play scared. If they play with confidence (which at this point they can only get from Doherty) they will play well, but if they don't, there is no chance for the NCAA tournament. There is no one to blame in this situation, and if Carolina makes the tournament it will involve nothing but confidence.
James, I could not agree more and have commented on the "fire and swagger" a great deal. The Heels began the season playing as hard and as confident as any Carolina team in the last several seasons. The 5-0 record attested to that. However, somewhere after the Stanford win, things changed and while Sean May's injury didn't help the win/loss column, there was no denying that for whatever reason, the Heels weren't the same team mentally during the months of December and January.
The FSU win was a must and now with Virginia coming in tonight, the Heels face another must win game. The Heels can still make the NCAA Tournament, but I'm with you on the fact that the only way that happens is if the Heels return to their early season level and do so in a hurry. A slip up in the next three games and the NCAA is out of the question barring a miracle.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article on InsideCarolina.com today, but it brought up a very interesting topic. In the third section of your article you dealt with the criticism dished out by the risers to both the Deacs, and Coach Doherty. I pride myself on being a very active participant in Carolina basketball especially when I sit in the risers. I cheer for the team, against the opponent, and will occasionally attempt to enlighten my fellow Tar Heel faithful. In your article you spent a paragraph dealing with the usher that threatened to throw out a fan who was criticizing Coach Doherty. It just so happens, that I am the fan that spoke with (the usher). My criticism was that coach was subbing in Will Johnson for Rashad McCants at a point that in my mind was critical in the game. We were subbing in poor offense and mediocre at best defense for instant offense and adequate to poor defense. The substitution didn't make sense to me and to compound the situation, I have been hearing horrible rumors about Coach. While I recognize that these are only rumors and that Coach probably had issues with Rashad's lack of intensity and inability to make it to practice, I felt frustrated to a point that I wanted Doherty to know how I felt. Your response to the incident warranted the quote "Either way, a simply stunning exchange." I was just curious whether you thought the usher did a good job of shutting up a disgruntled fan that was upset about the possibility of a 4th straight loss, or if you were a little shocked that someone was threatened to be removed from the game for voicing an opinion that just happened to go against our coach? I wouldn't be offended either way, I'm just curious what you thought of my action. I would like the feedback so I could continue to be the best Carolina fan that I could imagine!
Thanks for you time,
Dave, my amazement was due to the fact that a fan, a student no less, was threatened with removal from the Smith Center for making a simple, clean and relatively minor comment about a coaching move. Not once were the students called down for repeated colorful language directed at the opponents but you were issued an ‘or else' warning for one or two comments directed at Doherty. While I don't think ripping 18-22 year old players is necessarily appropriate, I also don't think any coach is above reproach, especially when it comes from a student of that university.
Maryland beats UNC at UNC by shooting 24 FTs to TWO in the SECOND half alone...
Manuel gets 4th foul EARLY second half of NCSU game. Hodge immediately goes off for 20 some second half points...
McCants comes into the Wake game with little over 14 minutes to go, hits a 3 on second try, gets immediate 3rd AND 4th foul, all in LESS THAN TWO minutes...
I for one would LOVE to see UNC play on the same court with the other team. To me, they're attitude is unbelievable for what they put up with on the court...
Miami game. Williams was fouled not only at the end of the first half on a three pointer, but, TWICE in the last 10 seconds of the game. no fouls called...
Do they jack up too many threes? Absolutely. When defenders can lay on your back AND reach AROUND you to deflect passes.... not many chances to get the ball inside that I can see. These guys HAVE to be VERY frustrated. I know I am.
Tim, no doubt the officiating in college basketball stinks of late. Since the ACC paired up with the SEC to share officials, things have really gone downhill in the conference.
But what do you do? Every player on the court, be it one from Carolina or State or wherever, has played ball enough to know that you aren't going to get every call, or in some cases, any call. But that's just the way it is apparently and until something is done about the poor officiating, guys have to play through it and coaches have to coach through it. Wake Forest took advantage of McCants staying on the court by getting him his third and fourth foul within five seconds of each other. State's Julius Hodge took advantage of Manuel going out of the game. Carolina has been victim to its share of poor calls. On the other hand, ask FSU's Leonard Hamilton how he feels about the officiating in his team's lost in the Smith Center. It cuts both ways and the teams that can effectively deal with it, win.
While reading your recent article, I was particularly pleased with your final statements:
"While debating the why's and how's of our favorite teams, Saturday's events high over Texas and the building events in the Middle East should serve as a blunt reminder that sports is a way to escape the reality of the real world, and we should consider them as such. Pulling for your team and being a fan is certainly a favorite pastime nearly everyone enjoys. But in a day and age in which those 'fans' often leap overboard and cross the boundaries of decency both at the sporting event and around the modern day water coolers (aka Internet message boards), remember that while one should never apologize for supporting "their team" or "their favorite player," everyone needs to realize that in the end, it's just a game played by our young people and games are meant to be fun."
I wish more fans, even Carolina fans (and ESPECIALLY certain people on the message boards) could get this seemingly simple concept into their heads. Hopefully the game tonight is close (for the sport and the rivalry), clean, and as you said, simply a fun escape from our other realities.
Best, Mike O. (UNC '95)
Mike, I appreciate the comments. Out of all the emails I received about last week's column, your note was the only one to mention the last paragraph. Even without the events of the past 18 months, I think it's time for people to put sports in a proper perspective and take it for what it is, or rather should be, "a fun escape from our other realities" as you so eloquently say.
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