Why Carolina Gets A Pass This Season

1.)  Until April 2010, we're the National Champions.  Pretty easy to overlook sloppy play when you've just hung a new banner in the rafters.  (At least for me, probably not so much for Roy.)  I'll get back to stressing about our performance, berating players, and accelerating my receding hairline next season.

2.)  I've seen much worse.

God Endorses Obama

I can't believe how Coach Smith's endorsement stopped me in my tracks this morning.  Like so many North Carolina sons, Dean Smith and Tar Heel basketball are as much a part of my identity as my last name.

I can't really explain it - I feel proud, hopeful, excited...and wish that I could somehow volunteer to run suicides and 3 man weave drills for Coach Smith to show my support for the Obama campaign.

Kelly and I are enthusiastically voting for Barack Obama and we strongly encourage you to do the same.  North Carolina is without a doubt in play.  Our nation needs a new direction.

Full text of the email:
There is a point in every contest when sitting on the sidelines is not an option. That is why Linnea and I are writing to urge you to join Barack Obama’s campaign for President. There are pivotal moments in history when the right decision by a nation can change its course for the better — opening up new paths before us and providing future generations with opportunities that we had not thought possible. This coming election provides one of those moments. Linnea and I believe Barack Obama is the right leader at this critical juncture. I have written that when coaching a team, you must be prepared to make changes to meet new challenges and obstacles. We must be prepared to do the same as a nation. Now, it is the United States that needs a change in direction… and a change in leadership. Join Barack Obama today by volunteering in your corner of North Carolina:


Linnea and I respect all that Senator McCain has done for our country. However, we feel strongly that it is Barack Obama who offers the real leadership our nation needs to tap its potential as a land of opportunity — even as we face difficult times at home and abroad. Senator Obama is a patriotic American, a committed Christian, a good family man, and a man who shares the bedrock values that most North Carolinians have in common: fairness, hard work, respect for others, and personal responsibility. And he has the vision and judgment to help us push through this period of uncertainty to a time of greater economic stability and greater security from threats abroad. If you believe America needs to set a new course, then the time to join us is now. If you are already an Obama supporter, please step up to help our campaign. There are only about three weeks left before Election Day, and if we are going to move away from the failed policies of the past, then we need your help now. So we encourage you to get out there and get involved — talk to your neighbors and sign up to volunteer today.

Get involved now: http://nc.barackobama.com/jointhesmiths

And pass this email along to those you think might be interested. This election is too important to stand on the sidelines and watch history pass us by. Thank you,

Coach Dean Smith and Linnea Smith
Chapel Hill, NC

Tyler Hansbrough and Fathers and Sons

A year ago, I was feeling pretty crappy. Today, I still feel pretty crappy (from the post-MBA Gala malaise), but couldn't be happier.

Kelly and I watched the game with ~300 of our closest friends at Spice Street in Chapel Hill. We screamed like idiots when Tyler made the game-clinching jump shots down the stretch and happily chirped "Carolina Victory" with my friend EJ after the game ended. And then I called my dad, as is the post-game custom.

When I called him, I felt a surprisingly startling emotion beyond the excitement of having just won the big game. I've written before how, when I was a child honing my game on the driveway, my dad would coach me by describing how Tar Heel legends Phil Ford and Bobby Jones did it this way or that way. I obviously knew who these people were, but I didn't get why he referred to them with such reverence.

For a split second after my dad picked up the phone, I remembered those times on my driveway and tried to imagine the touchstone Carolina basketball moments in his life, realizing that I was in the midst of one of my own.

And it made me realize how lucky I am to be able to call him after the game.

I Can't Believe I'm Not Watching The Game

The Heels open their season tonight against Davidson and I'm too busy to watch.

It's really a strange feeling because I usually go to great lengths to rearrange my life to watch Carolina basketball - either at home on TV or (preferably) at the Dean Dome.

We're tied with 4.49 remaining. I hope we win, but if we lose I'll find solace in the fact that every time Roy Williams has lost his season opener, he's taken his team to the Final Four.

Go Davidson!

Teams I Hope We Get A Chance To Beat

Assuming the Heels take care of business with Eastern Kentucky and the winner of the Michigan State/Marquette game - which is a big assumption considering last year's George 'Effing Mason debacle - I hope we see the following storyline unfold:

The 'Horns will be a tough out with Jesus Christ Kevin Durant on their team, but I think the 'Heels have the personnel to get it done. If we run Ginyard, Terry, and Wright at the Christ child, he'll have to contend with fresh legs and differing defensive styles throughout the game.

A Sweet 16 victory avenges our 2nd round loss to Texas in 2004, the 1995 Rick Barnes/Dean Smith fiasco, and my absolute disdain for Rick Barnes...and the stupid "Don't mess with Texas." attitude...and George W. Bush.


After seeing the SI.com "expert" bracket picks, I've decided that Georgetown is now my 3rd least favorite team in the field, behind the aforementioned Texas and Duke, who's irrelevance and overall suck-itude leaves them beyond the scope of this article.

We already beat Georgetown with John Thompson and Patrick Ewing in 1982. Surely we can beat them in the Elite 8 with John Thompson III and Patrick Ewing, Jr. Plus, does anyone honestly think a team running the Princeton offense has the juice to win a national championship?

Ohio State

I watched us beat the Greg Oden-less Buckeyes at the Dean Dome this past November. It was probably the most exciting game I watched all year. The Buckeyes made every single shot they heaved and the Heels matched them shot for shot throughout the game. We pulled it out in the end thanks a late run and a big effort from Tyler Hansbrough.

The in-game and post-game story, however, was all Oden. The talking heads just wouldn't shut-up about his greatness, how he would completely change the game if he were healthy, how he's developing his left hand while his right hand is injured, etc. The telecast cut to shots of Oden on the bench at least 25 times. (I know because I always record the game and then watch it again when I come home.) Read the post-game recap to get a sense of what I'm talking about. It was REALLY irritating to have an inactive player get so much attention.

So, Greg Oden has it coming to him. Like Durant, he's a media darling and must be broken. He'll get his in the Final Four.

The only way we face the Jayhawks is if we both make the championship game. The story lines are endless! Dean! Roy! Larry Brown! Danny Manning! Danny Manning's father! Matt Doherty! "I could give a shit about North Carolina right now!"

In my ideal scenario, we clobber Kansas to take the title behind a man's effort by Tyler Mansbrough, a few timely jump shots from Wes Miller, and key defensive play by Marcus Ginyard. After the game, Roy weeps on national television and Bill Self remains a loser.

Please make it so.

(Yes, I realize that this will never happen now that I've taken the time to articulate the PERFECT scenario.)

Thoughts On The Tyler Incident

As if he already hadn't done so, Tyler Hansbrough DEFINITELY secured his place in the Carolina Basketball pantheon today.

Tyler Hansbrough and a bloody nose

For one, he put up 26 and 17 in a must win game against Dook. If we lose, we end up the #5 seed in the ACC Tournament and have to play in a dreaded Les Robinson Invitational game on Thursday night. Instead, as a direct result of Tyler's herculean effort, we share the regular season ACC title with UVA and get the #1 seed in the tournament.

For two, he now has his iconic moment. Just like Eric Montross' cut under the eye in 1992, Tyler's busted nose will be a holy act of bravery and sacrifice that Carolina fans talk about for years to come. It doesn't matter that it happened at the end of the game or that it was an accident. (I am one of the very few Heels fans that thinks that the elbow from Gerald Henderson was nothing more than the by-product of aggressive play.) 10 years from now, everyone - me included - will remember that Tyler ended up bloodied in a Duke game as a result of a "questionable" play by some nameless Dookie thug (that never amounted to anything in the NBA) and that Tyler's blood sacrifice rallied the team to victory.

My favorite part of the incident? After taking the blow, Tyler fell to the ground and lay still for a brief moment. He then gathered himself and stood up looking for a fight. He wasn't just mad - he was crying mad, with blood streaming down his face and tears welling in his eyes. For me, that will be the lasting image and the lasting emotion. I suspect that the tears were from the pain of a busted nose, but I like to think that they came in part from the competitive fire that burns in his gut.

When I was a kid, my dad always exhorted me to play the game with heart like Tar Heel legends Phil Ford and Bobby Jones. If I'm fortunate enough to have a son, I know that I will (attempt to) inspire him with tales of Tyler's grit, his whirling dervish effort, the fanatical gleam he gets in his eye when he's on the court, and, of course, his bloody nose.

Why I Love Watching Carolina Games at the Dean Dome - Reason #389

#389 - Watching John Edwards glad-hand the entire arena.

During halftime of tonight's game vs. Penn, Presidential Candidate (and UNC Law alum) John Edwards made his way from his seat behind the UNC bench to Erskine Bowles' seat about 10 rows in front of mine.

Along the way, he pumped his fists to exhort the student section, shook hands with the ushers, took pictures with students, preened for ESPN's cameras, took more pictures with students, helped old ladies cross the street, negotiated a cease-fire in Tikrit, and took more pictures with students. Whatever it is, I'd say he has it. It was pretty cool to watch somone schmooze so naturally.

I wish I could have heard his conversation with Erskine, a former Leo McGarry, err, Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton. I'm guessing it was about Tyler Hansbrough's bullish tenacity under the basket...

The Bumble

Here's a recent post about Kenny George vs. UNC.

Thanks for reading.


The original Bumble (or Abominable Snowman) from the Rankin Bass classic "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer":


The Bumble that Kelly and I saw today, 7ft 6in Kenny George of UNC Asheville:

This is without a doubt the largest human being I have ever seen in person. For the sake of perspective, Reyshawn Terry, the Tar Heel on the left, is 6ft 8in.

He was pretty lost on the court - slow, uncoordinated, passive. His flat-footed-dunk was the funniest thing I've seen in weeks - my dad even called to laugh about it after seeing it on television. The ball bounced into his hands and he reached up to place it into the hoop without leaving his heels. Absolutely hilarious.

That said, you can't teach 7ft 6in. He's got a chance to make a lot of cash playing basketball if someone can teach him to move his feet and play with some aggression.

We Are All Witnesses, Part II

My previous post about Lebron's playoff coming out party has generated humorous amounts of traffic on my blog. Here are the search terms that dropped folks at The Boggs Blog yesterday:

"We are all witnesses"
"We are all witnesses Lebron shirt"
"email marketing provider"
"We are all witnesses Lebron"
"We are all witnesses shirt"

I'm on Google's first page. HA!

Thus...on with the Lebron analysis and search engine spam!

Some thoughts about his playoff performance vs. the Pistons:

- He has NO supporting cast. Donyell Marshall? Ilgauskus? Give me a break. Give Bron Bron a veteran backcourt mate and go-to low-post scorer and he will dominate for a long time...

- He's not the next Michael Jordan. He's different. (I would say he's more like Magic, but everybody says he's more like Magic.) Michael was a spit-in-your-eye competitor that simply would not be denied. I don't know that Lebron has that quality - despite his late game heroics against the Wizards.

- Tyler is going to eat Lebron's lunch when he joins the Association in 2007.

Thanks for reading my blog. Visit again for more basketball banter.

Sorry I don't have the t-shirts you're looking for.

I Heart the NBA

I more or less ignore the NBA during the 82 game regular season - that is other than checking box scores for Raymond, Rasheed, Vince and other Tar Heel ballers.

I keep up with non-Tar Heel regular season news via the weekly NBA "Starting 5" email newsletter:

NBA Email

This mesage works for me on 3 levels:

1. The straightforward "add us to your address book" line at the top of the message - a classic tactic to ensure delivery to the inbox, not the junk folder. I added the address to my address book - not necessarily because they asked me to, but moreso because the content is good. (Most folks tend to ignore the latter...)

2. The "Starting Five" = 5 content elements.  Always.  With so many games and so much drama (on and off the court), the good folks at the NBA pare down a week's worth of news into 5 digestible elements.  It is convenient for me and it is a good filter for them - they put forth the best and most important content and ignore the fluff.

Why doesn't everyone do this?  Why do so many email marketers drown their contacts with data?  99% of your contacts are only going to read 2 or 3 elements - so why not pick your best and go with it?

3. The "Forward-to-a-Friend" link is front and center.  So many try to tap into email marketing's viral potential, yet so few do it well.  A well-placed "forward this email" link is a very simple first step that can increase the likelihood that your message gets forwarded to friends.

The real reason I like this message in particular?  Tar Heel Vince Carter in the spotlight - where he belongs.  Perhaps I'll pen a future blog about my 1998 pick-up basketball experience with Vince in Chapel Hill...