Wednesday, March 28, 2007

(Un)Happy New Year!

I don't know why we celebrate the New Year on January 1. That's a third of the way into the college basketball season! My new year officially begins the day after UNC's last game. I understand that means it's rarely a happy new year - 1982, 1993 and 2005 being notable exceptions. Sometimes it's an okay new year - 1990 for example when they had a mediocre team but managed to beat Oklahoma in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament on a last second shot by Rick Fox before going on to lose in the regional semis. They went as far as it was reasonable to expect, so I really couldn't complain. Last year was like that. But this is not a good new year. This is like 1994, when contention between the holdovers from the previous championship year and the new kids on the block led to a 2nd round defeat. Or like 1984, when arguably the best team UNC's ever had (Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Brad Dougherty, Kenny Smith - hell, Jesus would have had trouble starting on that team!) won neither the ACC tournament nor the NCAAs. Or even worse, 1977, when you could make a good case that Dean Smith just flat out got outcoached. This new year is one of THOSE years - an inexplicably flat performance by the team and some questionable decisions (or non-decisions) by coach Roy leading to an early new year and the eternal question these days of "who's leaving early?".

So I walk outside after all is said and done and it's warm, the redbuds are in full bloom (for the second time this year) along with the pear and cherry trees, the dogwoods are starting to open (early, early this year) and the azaleas might even be starting to bud out if the deer hadn't nibbled them down to nothing.

Normally I'd be complaining about how quickly it's gotten warm (we kinda skipped right over springtime temps) but after freezing my ass off in Chicago this time last year, I'm quite okay with it. And at least the UNC women are still playing - the game Sunday with Tennessee should be a good one. We've beaten the Lady Vols the last two times we've played them (including the regional finals last year) and we've beaten some pretty good teams in order to make it to the Final Four. Clearly whoever wins the game Sunday will be expected to take it all. Pat Summitt complained again this year when the pairings came out that Tennessee had the toughest regional, but upsets meant that they ended up playing the 13th seed followed by the 7th seed to win the regional - UNC has had a much tougher road which I think actually helps us considerably. Should be fun - and might make my new year a lot happier by Tuesday's final!

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