A friend of us, a State fan, stopped us today and said,
"know what? It's over."
Naturally that piqued our curiosity, so we asked him what was
over. Turned out he meant the UNC mystique, and after going 5-4 in their last 9
games and being crushed by Cincy, Louisville, and a struggling Wake Forest,
maybe he has a point though we're not sure we're willing to fully concur.
You bury UNC at your own peril. They find a Serge Zwikker, an Eric Montross or
maybe a Neil Fingleton, and voila! they have a Frankensteinian big
man, some guy walks on from Spivey's Corner or Bat Cave or Tuxedo and says
playing for the Heels has been his life-long dream, and badabing! badaboom!
They're one step from the Final Four. He is right, and Caulton Tudor
followed up on this Thursday, in saying that it's the Post-Dean era. We said
that not long after Dean left, and were roundly criticized for saying that it
would be difficult for UNC to remain as good as they have been after he left (we
followed that up by saying that losing Smith, Mack Brown, and AD John Swofford
meant that the program had declined ipso facto, which got us another volley of
mail, but we'll stand by that contention too)
Anyway, we say that in a round-about manner as a lead-in to the
power of an idea and with great curiosity as to how it can affect someone, say a
guy who grew up in North Carolina, not in Spivey's Corner or Bat Cave, but say
maybe Greenville. Like so many kids in North Carolina, he gew up idolizing
UNC and longed to play there, but like 999 out of 1,000, he didn't get
offered. Say he went off somewhere else, far away, and became a useful
player, maybe Out West. And let's say his team is struggling, but he saw
this game on the schedule and knows his mom will be there, and lots of his
family, and it's his one chance, ever, to play in the Dean Dome.
Say that and you
have the story of Rico Hines, of the UCLA Bruins. How
will he react to playing there? Will he come in and see the banners and
think Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Charlie Scott? Or will he
come in and think that maybe these guys aren't as tough as he had always
thought? Or maybe just come in and put in a day at the office and go home,
thrilled to have played in the Dean Dome. Is the dream enough?
We don't have a clue as to what to expect. We don't know
enough about Rico Hines to know how he'll deal with it. But we do know enough to
know that it's a potential wildcard, and while the odds are it won't
matter (he's not a career reserve because he's the best player on the
team), it's a very interesting thing to throw into an already compelling
game between two wounded giants.