I'm going to step out of the realm of basketball recruiting for a few minutes and discuss the upcoming ACC basketball season, and it's heralded champions-in-waiting, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
On the sidelines of the UNC football team's win over once-heralded Notre Dame, Tyler Hansbrough patiently answered reporter Stacey Dale's familiar questions, such as what Tyler has been doing in the off-season, how the team expects to do, and of course, how does the team stay motivated.
Last season, the answer was quick: to avenge the early NCAA loss to Georgetown, a team that UNC had on the mat with mere minutes to play.
To a man, each player had a fire in their eyes to return to the NCAA and to get over the hump, meaning, 'reach the Final Four'.
When the 2007-08 team reached that goal, they talked about how they had achieved what they set out to do, that it was their focus all season. That is, unfortunately, the likely point when they lost the championship.
Their motivation and drive satisfied, they were content, even if only subconsciously, with a Final Four berth.
Now, an off-season later, the answers aren't coming so readily. Hansbrough cast about in trying to find a ready motivator, but seemed to echo what is the most worrisome fact of the upcoming season: UNC has the same goals as last season, and should have, by all rights, already attained it.
The motivation that drove them all last season...is the same motivation that should be driving them this season, and that isn't always easy to do. This has to feel like deja vu for the Heels.
UNC is, as hard as it is to believe, far more loaded with talent than even a year ago, where they tore through the NCAA until coming unglued in that fateful Kansas game.
The checklist of UNC goals is short: win a championship. Show that Ellington, Lawson, Green and Hansbrough really are NBA ready. Get the new recruits a little playing time.
In short, do everything they did last year, just do it a little better.
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