….. On to Detroit. Another wonderful weekend to remind us that, for all its inherent peripheral yuckiness, pure sports competition when confined to the field/court can be really darned exciting. Me, my 40” HDTV, and my leather recliner enjoyed the heck outta Sweet Sixteen & Elite Eight. ….. A high profile BB coach named Jim is in NCAA trouble and a former student manager is involved …. De je Valvano.
I’m only in one bracket pool this year …. with HokieJim Alderson and The Clubhouse Tailgaters. I went against conventional wisdom and peppered my picks with upsets. I had Oklahoma over The Heels yesterday and have Tom Izzo cutting down the nets in his backyard. If our bracket pool was a team ….. I’d be Greg Campbell’s son Mark on Roy’s Mop-up Squad. The nice thing about picking against your own team is that you’re glad to be wrong.
This year is eerily like last year. Royz Boyz are cruising with nary a nailbiter among their four Ws so far. No doubt the NickNack PaddyWhack faction of TarHeelNation is already debating where to put the new nets and trophy certain to be headed to Carolina’s Cooperstown Museum. Just as they were so certain one year ago. As usual, ORW gets cut no slack for adding four more NCAA Ws to UNC’s new all-time leading total of 100. All the joy and pride ginned up over the past two weeks turns to odious sludge unless Roy “makes us all proud” at Ford Field. Well, not with this UNC alum and life-long fan.
I say HUZZA HUZZA to Coach Williams and his youngsters in C-blue.
- You (Roy) have indeed spoiled us to expect nothing but perfection.
- You continue to recruit outstanding young athletes.
- You instill in them a sense of responsibility to a legacy of pride and the highest of achievement.
- You (and they) live 24/7 in an unforgiving public petri dish.
- Young men become celebrities of a magnitude surpassing all but the highest profile politician and Hollywood luminary. Their every action and utterance for four years sliced and diced by both adoring sycophants and jealous rivals.
- Their every athletic action is instantly compared to legends high in the rafters.
….. each March UNC Basketball must negotiate a deadly minefield where one misstep is a calamity of epic proportions. From “the first black president” to lop-eared cross-eyed loonies from The Great Smokies To The Outer Banks….. Roy & His Boyz are forever shackled to bear the burden of “don’t let us down”.
Some how thru their graceful pirouettes, soaring leaps, high arcing missles from outside the arc and all-eyes-are-watching free throw accuracy …. Some how their unerring success compensates for our lack of same. Alums as well as bandwagon partisans fumble and bumble their ways thru uninspiring occupations, unsatisfying relationships and a daily drudgery that dooms the vast majority to lives of not so quiet desperation.
To far too many, the only lifeline out of their daily drudgery is totally vested in a group of 18-22 year old youngsters in baggy shorts and the men who lead them. One misstep by them along the way and multiple thousands are left to accept the mediocrity of their own existence.
On behalf of a hearty band of Tar Heel loyalists who simply enjoy each contest on the journey regardless where it leads ……
I’ve run this by several UNCers and Wuffies and have yet to find anyone who picked up on it but me. ….. the Jim Calhoun / UConn recruiting accusations are incredibly similar to a legendary situation twixt Western Blvd and Hillsborough St about 20 years ago. ….. A high profile basketball coach named Jim ….. reports of a series of recruiting misdemeanors ….. a former student manager lurking in the shadows. All that is missing is an opportunistic author named Peter and a Hartford CT newspaper looking for national publicity. Lets see what we shall see …. Shall we.
I watched this past weekend’s UNC wins over Gonzaga and Oklahoma from my recliner in my “home theater”. I expect most of you had similar vantage points. My friend Mark Johnson had the best seat of all.
Greensboro, to this outsider, is “just a very fine place to live”. It’s not a state capital. It’s not a regional metro center. It has no single landmark or institution that symbolizes it. It is “just” a nice city in the Carolina Piedmont where several 100,000 folks live quite nice lives ….. and where my friend and cousin Mark Johnson lived for 58 years.
Greensboro has also always been a hot bed of Carolina loyalists. None more so than Mark’s family. His grandfather McDaniel Lewis, his mother Mary Lynn, his sisters Lynn and Carter have all sipped long and often from The Old Well. Mark’s family have had “four on the fifty” in Kenan’s fabled Napa Valley North since Choo Choo’s day. Section 106 – Row R ….. Mother Mary Lynn has already secured permission to have her ashes spread upon Kenan’s sacred turf. Can’t get much true bluer than that. That such a family would be loyal readers of this column since it’s earliest days should come as no surprise. Mary Lynn is Official Grammarian of BobLeeSays.
Mark matriculated at “the Flagship campus” in the early 70s then went on to a long and satisfying career in the investment business following the footsteps of his grandfather and his father. Like so many, Mark wore his Tar Heel partisanship proudly ….. so it was no surprise that the Tar Heel Fight Song was playing Sunday afternoon as 100s of Mark’s friends entered the fellowship hall of Greensboro’s First Baptist Church. Mark Johnson was indeed “Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred ….”
My friend and cousin Mark Johnson lost an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer last week. Roy’s Boyz in Blue did not “HAVE to win” this past weekend for Mark Johnson.
But in a wonderful sentimental coincidence …. It sure was nice that they did. GO HEELS.
Villanova and Michigan State loom in Carolina’s path.
Why is that eeriely significant?