… “They” come along about as often as the Cubs and Red Sox meet in The Fall Classic …. “They” aren’t manufactured by a clever publicist …. “They” can have all the qualifications but never get the proper stage to perform on. …. “They” are “unique” sports personalities that rise from the cacophanous compost of Sportscenter’s “best ever” du jours….. The stars were in alignment on Sunday night and a new Tar Heel Hero(ine) was “born” … not in a manger but in the most forboding of all settings – Cameron Indoor. A delightful little elfin tadpole – #12 Ivory Latta.
UNC Basketball is not lacking for Hoop Heroes. One gets a crick in his neck just counting all the jerseys in the rafters of The Legend’s Lair. Her #12 may never qualify to be so honored since she doesn’t even perform in the cavernous Holy of Holies.
Long time followers of Tar Heel Basketball (defined as “knew it existed prior to Michael’s jumper in 1982”) can rattle off “who jumped center against Wilt?” … “name the Tuttle brothers” … “what did Jeff Lebo’s daddy do?” … “Who was the human victory cigar?” In fact, Timo Makkonen might be more famous among Tar Heel rank and file than Ivory Latta will ever be.
REAL Carolina superfans MIGHT recall someone named Charlotte Smith doing something dramatic back in the early 90s … was she one of Anson’s “Bouncy Ponytails”?
For the most part Carolina Women Basketball players get as much publicity as the geek on 5th Floor Craige named Sgt-at-Arms of the UNC Young Republicans Club. Osama Bin Laden might be sitting next to Sylvia Hatchell on the bench and who would know? More UNC footballers sign up for Advanced Molecular Biology than there are fans at a UNC Women’s Basketball game in Carmichael ….. All that might have changed around 9:00 PM last Sunday night.
I have known about Ivory Latta for three years, but then I spend my time reading and listening rather than weaving Machiavellian conspiracies involving guys named Amato or Krzyzewski. I’m not “a real fan” as defined by Franklin Street Huff & Puffs.
Women’s Basketball is normally pretty low on my interest list. Between soccer and poker. It reminds me of a boy’s junior high game but with less dunking. When did they do away with “rovers”? The players “heave” the ball at the basket on flat trajectories rather than the high arching parabolas powered by wrist flicks we see from the men. “Action in the paint” resembles a dozen puppies fighting over mamma’s eleven nipples at feeding time.
I do have a reoccuring fantasy of being marooned on a desert island with Pat Summit, a handful of cable ties, a can of silly string and The 4th Season DVD of “24” but that’s another whole issue.
I did see Charlotte Smith’s incredible buzzer beater in ’94. And I also knew both Gerald and Richard Tuttle. I know that Darcy Miller carries a picture of the Oklahoma hottie coach in his glove compartment. The Fresno State hottie coach got busted for buying drugs from her players and Kay Yow might be THE nicest lady ever to be employed at NC State University.
Not EVERYONE connected with women’s basketball is of the lesbian persuasion (Gino Aurieama is not) All guys who shop at Shepler’s Western Wear are not gay. The % on the latter is going up daily.
I watched Duke dismantle The Stare’s Lady Vols a week earlier. I knew that Coach G would kick Coach K’s butt if he ever parked in her Cameron parking place. Coach G doesn’t look like she bothers to watch Desperate Housewives or Oprah. …. I knew “the latest showdown between #1 and #2” would be one I had to watch. I knew the recent history between the two teams. I had heard about Ivory Latta for three years.
Ivory has a host of very talented teammates FOR SURE but there’s no question who ignites the engine.
Hopefully you’ve read the account of the game. Heelettes trailed by 16 at the half but won by 4 IN CAMERON. You knew that Ivory was “special”. She commanded the sort of ESPN camera time normally reserved for Michael Vick eating a hot dog on the VaTech FB sidelines. Ivory is much cuter than MVOne.
You simply had to see this darling little bug-eyed tadpole in action to appreciate how she dominates a game when she’s on the court. She operates at one mph less than “out of control”.
The classic moment had to be late in the 2nd half as Carolina completed it’s miracle comeback and Ivory ran smack dab into a huge concrete statue of former Russian hammer thrower Tamara Press that somehow got placed at mid-court in Cameron. Think Colossus of Rhodes wearing a Duke uniform. Ivory is maybe 5’6” and maybe 130 lbs with an anvil in her pocket. That huge concrete statue of Tamara Press had to be 8’ high and at least as big as Orlando Pace carrying Derek Morris on his back. Ivory is backpedaling and turns just in time to smash face first into Tamara’s hulking torso.
Imagine Wile E Coyote hitting the mountain or chasing Roadrunner into the tunnel and hitting the locomotive at full speed – SPLAT!. Ivory has a most unique “look” anyway … something between an elf and an Ewok. Ivory slams into Giant Concrete Tamara so hard that she is pretty much knocked unconscious but takes a standing 8-count as the ESPN producer in the truck is screaming “Get a close-up of her eyes rolling back in her head!” Ivory’s normally goofy grin goes whopsided and you can see “the little birdies” flying around her head as she wobbles around the mid-court jump circle. … Weebles, and Ivory, wobble but Weebles and Ivory never go down. Legends, even itty bitty tadpole legends, never “go down”.
Coach G had to know then that the Basketball Gods had unanimously decided “this night belongs to Ivory”.
As befits the public birth of a legend Ivory perseveres and rises to the occasion. She proceeds to insure a Tar Heel victory by making several “lane penetrations” in the waning moments that would cause MJ hisownself to shake his head in wonder.
Muggsy Bogues was at court-side which was too appropriate to be coincidental. Ivory’s daddy was in the stands and had that reserved but oh-so-proud smile that dad’s have.
It’s just midseason. Lots can and will happen over the next 6-8 weeks that might eclipse last Sunday night in Cameron. Maybe what we saw was the pinnacle moment for Ivory Latta. I sorta doubt that since she has been a star for quite some time … leading scorer in South Carolina high school history, etc. and the acknowledged leader of UNC’s very successful Women Basketball program for the past three seasons. ….. But … WHO KNEW!
BobLee knew … and now so do you.
Who was the opponent in Charlotte Smith’s Miracle 3 in ’94?
Hint: It was NOT UCONN or Tennessee.
The Nazis were Indiana Jones’ primary adversaries in looking for The Lost Arc”.
If Ivory doesn’t make it in the WNBA (she will!) she can always get a job making chocolate macaroons in a hollow tree.
UNC Women ranked #1 … sure making it tougher for the Dickie-Haters but those folks are nothing if not tenacious.
AlphaWolf ( www.RedandWhitefrom state.com ) and BobLee are considering a hostile takeover of the NCSU Tailgate Task Force IF the academic bureaucrats get too frisky. New policies are NOT needed … just seriously ENFORCE existing policies.
Yes … that above description of Ivory running into “Tamara Press” has already been carved into the wall of a secret alcove of Duke Chapel … it now belongs “to the ages”.