About this time of year in Chicago, Cubs fans are waking from a five-month hibernation and preparing for a new season. Their resiliency is unmatched.
It’s been over 100 years of uttering those now famous Wrigley words, “Hey, wait till next year!”. Even after a century without a pennant, they come back with confidence and eagerness for a new beginning.
Drive about 800 miles southeast and you will find yourself in a place where a down year is unacceptable, let alone a down century. Both the Cubs and Tar Heels have a nationwide fan base and that is about the only comparison that can be made between the two.
Most North Carolina fans probably don’t realize how good they have it. Truthfully, it isn’t hard to be dedicated to a team that provides you with exciting seasons nearly every year. It’s not a chore to spend $45.00 on a ticket for an early season game to watch a team that is almost certainly Final Four bound. It’s easy, because it’s expected.
So it’s no wonder that fans and critics across the nation have attacked Roy Williams. After all, he is at the helm of a ship that Tar Heel nation believes was lost in the Bermuda Triangle back in December. With early wins over Ohio State and Michigan State, it appeared this year’s squad was right on course for another Final Four appearance, even after dropping off several crew members from the last journey.
How things went so bad so quickly is not easy to explain. Sure, there were some significant injuries but for the most part this team was healthy going into January. By then though, the decline had already begun.
Inexperience, injuries, lack of leadership or focus. Pick one, but know that in the end it was a combination of all of these things. Sure, Ole’ Roy had eight McDonald’s All-Americans (if that even means anything anymore). Most of them were underclassmen with little if any true minutes logged. The freshmen underperformed, based on unreasonable expectations from fans and media. Larry Drew couldn’t handle an offense that was never meant for a player with his skill set and abilities. Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson never led this team like seniors should.
It was a mixed bag of failure in argyle.
There is a bright side though. With Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, and Kendall Marshall on the way in next year, it appears things will likely be back to normal.
That won’t make anyone in Chapel Hill more forgiving, but it is a silver lining for fans that are not accustomed to searching for one.