As is probably obvious by now, I took Friday off and went up to Dad's to watch basketball, drink beer, repeat as needed. Also managed to help both 'rents with some stuff around their respective homesteads between games and such. Needless to say I was thrilled with the outcome of the tournament but I'll admit to sharing a bit of the team's low-key approach - it reminds me a bit of the 1982 team leaving the nets up after winning the East Regional to return to the Final Four for the second straight year. They'd won a regional the year before - they were ready for the NEXT challenge. That's how this team feels to me.
As players, these guys don't have that much in common with the Worthy, Perkins, Jordan team of '82 - very different styles, depth, etc. But in terms of team attitude, I can see some similarities. The '82 team was never ranked below number 2 during the year, losing only to Wake Forest in Carmichael and the Ralph Sampson-led Virginia in Charlottesville. I think this year's model was never ranked below around 8th and has only lost twice - to Maryland and to Duke, both in the Dean Dome. They both made it through a hard-fought ACC Tournament, but of course you can't compare this year's running team with the 82 ACC final which was pretty much solely responsible for the advent of the shot clock in college basketball (and yes I still blame Terry Holland for that for not having his guys come out and chase Jimmy Black).
I actually see a lot of similarities between this team and 2005, with the leadership and speed down the court of Lawson/Felton, the domination inside of Hansbrough/May, the outside gunnery of Ellington/McCants, the sixth man skills of Green/Williams, the heroics of an otherwise unsung senior (Thomas/Scott) and the defensive pressure of Ginyard/Manuel. Here's hoping for a similar outcome this year - the smart pick seems to be UNC vs. UCLA or UNC vs. Texas in the final and so far, everyone I've heard has picked UNC. I know those sure things often lose, but I think we've got a pretty good chance to make it this year.
Photo: Clouds piling up over the Black Mountain range (photo taken looking over the Mt. Mitchell Golf Course).