Looking back into the past I see the reflection of me, a University of North Carolina Tar Heel fan, gazing into a crystal ball before the start of the 2009-10 mens basketball season and thinking the vision was clear to me.
I watched closely as five High School freshmen basketball players dominated their sports on their way to Chapel Hill, becomming the hottest class Chapel Hill had seen in quite some time.
I saw North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, fresh off of his second National Championship, sit atop the world as he watched in awe the arriving class and loving the opportunity to mentor and teach such talent.
The visions were so clear to me as I allowed the crystal ball to deliver expectations of yet another ACC title, top NCAA tournament seed, and another Final Four run.
The more Tar Heel fans I talked to, the quicker I realized that the ball was being seen by Carolina faithful everywhere. Most of whom gazed in to see the potential for a repeat and how sweet that would have been.
The ball played with my head as out of nowhere the scoreboard at Cameron Indoor appeared, and the final score leaning toward the visiting team yet again was clearly visible. Another Duke senior night spoiled by the Tar Heels.
I saw babyface John Henson raising the NCAA Championship trophy above his head and the hands from Marcus Ginyard, Larry Drew, Will Graves, Dexter Strickland, Ed Davis, as well as others getting a touch of dynasty as the 2010 NCAA Champions.
I will never forget the day I realized that the crystal ball could have been defected. It was Late Night With Roy, and I had three of the best seats in the house. We were close enough to the court to see that this team was at best tinkering with mediocrity.
I blew off the miserable scrimmage at Late Night With Roy and chalked it up to inexperience. I expected the team to come together and improve as individual basketball players by the start of ACC play.
But that is not what happened.
Instead it appeared to me that the team digressed as the season went on. I saw fear, lack of trust, and confusion. And it never got any better. It got to the point that the 2010 University of North Carolina mens basketball team showed up on game night hoping to win a conference game, but expecting to lose.
Those are things I never thought I would have seen from a team coached by Roy Williams.
In a time and place where expectations sometimes runs our daily lives, we allow the peak of the future to anticipate what those expectations actually are. We forget that to actually be as good as we might expect, at the end of the day the ball has to actually go through the hoop, and you have to outscore the opponents to reach the level of success we want.
It is only natural to allow a National Championship hangover to carry on into the following season. The players, coaches, and fans all expect success to breed success.
In my opinion the Tar Heels lost two things that cannot be lost if success will be reached.
They lost their confidence. Most atheletes will tell you it is harder to re-gain confidence than it is to obtain it.
Carolina also lost their focus on the court. Sometimes potential, talent, and all the intangibles in the world will not overcome the lack of focus needed to succeed. The best cameras in the world are lost without focus. This carries over into all of us as we live our daily lives. We all need focus daily to keep the vision clear. Lack of focus could break us all as it did North Carolina on the court.
It's kind of like gazing into a broken crystal ball. It all seems so clear in the beginning, but hazes out as time goes on. Searching for the future you get lost in a maze of expectations in a cracked, un-focused crystal ball.
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