Archive for unc basketball

Real Madrid v. Manchester United and Duke v. UNC Diary, Part 2

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by cueball

8:42

Pregame pint will be Highland Brewing’s Devil’s Britches IPA.

As for the game it will probably be a comfortable Duke win, but if UNC is still within one possession at the first TV timeout of either half, the game will be close.  Either Duke wins by 20 or it comes down the last possession.

8:56

First surprise of the night, Devil’s Britches uses Calypso hops a different profile then I’m used to in IPAs.  Must get used to it.

Second surprise, PJ Hairston in the starting line-up.

9:10

I don’t know if I really enjoy Duke/UNC games.  Too much nervousness.

9:17

1st TV time out 9-6 UNC.  Things could be fun tonight.

9:27

Lads playing well right now.  Duke has recovered and is starting to play well.  The next 4 minute period will tell a lot.  If UNC can keep up their momentum in the face the coming Duke run, this will be fun all the way down to the wire.

If this is a close game, cogent analysis will be hard for me to come by.

9:55

Exhausted after one half.  I need a beer.

10:22

UNC slipping now.  Duke has made a run and UNC looked a little lost on the last couple of possessions with Duke’s defensive intensity increasing.  In the next 4 minutes, Duke could take complete control of this game.  UNC has to respond out of this TV timeout.  Must get the ball inside with the elder Plumlee sitting on the bench.

10:29

Yep, saw that run coming.  Paige takes a horrible shot which leads to a Duke 3.  For once though, Roy calls the timeout to stop the run.

10:36

At the pacing around keeping away from breakable objects point in the game.

11:14

Well that ended badly.  Not a classic of the rivalry, but a tight game.  It resembled a mud fight for the most part.  Roy did a great coaching job tonight.  Everyone wanted to see what the small lineup would do for an extended period.  Against a team like Duke it works really well.  I don’t know if anything UNC could throw at Miami would work.   Game was decided by the inability to hit free throws.

Time for another beer.  See you in the morning.

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This Is My Toy Box, Keep Your Hate Out Of It

Posted in sports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by cueball

Why is fandom so important to some and why do they let their favorite team be the most important thing in defining who they are?

There is a difference, however slight, between being a fan of a team who cheers for all the wins and mourns their losses and being a fan whose whole emotional wellbeing is tied to whether the team wins or loses.

I don’t understand how an adult can create the type of emotional investment usually reserved for close friends and family for players on their favorite team.  I can understand it a little better for college fans.  Universities and colleges usually represent something a little more emotionally resonant for people then do professional teams.  However, even there people lose the perspective of why the university exists.  It isn’t so you can have a football or basketball team to cheer for on the weekends.  It is to educate the children of the state in which it resides.  Sometimes the fandom for a university is more akin to be a fan of the tail rather than a fan of the dog.

The older I get the more I cringe when rivalries particularly college rivalries are described with the word hate.  Really.  Hate.  Back here in the real world, there are truly very few reasons to actually hate someone.  None of those reasons include attending a different university then you are playing for a rival team.  (I also want to crawl through my television and strangle any announcer who calls the athletes on the field or court warriors or soldiers especially at a time when our military is actively fighting wars.  Yet, I digress.)

These emotional ties are particularly stupid in professional sports.  If you are a Yankee fan you may hate a certain Red Sox player today, but you are then forced to turn around and love the same player when he signs a free agent contract with the Yankees tomorrow.  In that sense, you are truly only cheering for laundry.

Maybe that is why college sports rivalries have the resonance they do.  Once you wear Carolina blue, State red, Alabama crimson, or Auburn orange you are tied to the lore of those places forever.  The history of college sports is what makes it special.  Those ties of the past to the present are what set it apart from the corporate slickness of professional athletics.  Each game in a collegiate rivalry is another link in a never ending chain of history.

These games engender passion.  These games engender emotion.  If you are seven years old you should be emotionally devastated that your team lost to its most hated rival.  It should eat at you as the most important thing to happen to you ever, because you are seven.  At that age, you should not have the emotional traumas that put sports in a different, less emotionally important perspective.

As an adult it should be different.  I understand being emotionally spent and devastated in the moment of the game ending, if your team loses. I understand wanting to avoid certain friends and or websites to not relive the loss.  However, as an adult, you should be able to put that to one side and remember that it is just a game and move on with your day.  We may have pumped these games up past their actually true importance with the approximately 100 television channels dedicated to sports, but they are just games.

The central question of this post has been a reoccurring theme on this blog for me.  “Am I as big a fan of sports as I was when I was younger?”  I think I follow sports just as much as I did when I was younger, and maybe even a touch more.  I do think I am a less emotional fan than I was.

Life has layered emotional experiences on me both good and bad.  These things and moments have placed sports in a different place in my life.  Not a less important place, but a different one.  It is the toy box.  It is where I try to go to get away from all the big important pains of the day.  I don’t want to spoil my refuge with hate and anger.

This is why the hypocrisy of the NCAA (and their network partners and the NFL/NBA) annoys me so much.  This is why I keep looking at all the information gathering from concussion and brain trauma research and feel a growing nausea at what we are doing to our athletes.  These are real world things spoiling my sanctuary.

This is about a letter to the editor of the DTH

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2013 by cueball

Fans are not entitled to championships.  Fans of some sporting entities feel that they should not lose and if they do someone should be fired new players should be found.

Fans should be disappointed with losing.  They should be borderline angry when their team does not execute the basics.  That is perfectly reasonable.  Sometimes I forget that fan is a shortened version of fanatic meaning fans are by definition a little irrational.

However, there is a difference between irrational and delusional.  Fans of historically successful teams sometimes forget how hard it is to win and that everyone else is trying to win.  That mental blindness makes them prone to overreaction and panic, and often makes them forget what bad really looks like.

A team with the talent to win if and when if figures itself out and a team that has no hope of winning because of lack talent and coaching are two different things.  The first team usually plays good for a half and bad for a half and loses games like that until they start putting together consistent effort for the whole game.  Those teams are frustrating, but that happens with inexperience.  The second team is just bad.  Think 8-20.  Fans with common sense and a bit of perspective know the difference.

Another thing that happens for fans of ultra-successful teams who forget what bad truly looks like or what losing feels like, is that they forget to enjoy the wins.  Winning is the result of hard work and timing.  It is very hard.  Winning isn’t something that is a given or a birth right.  Therefore it should be enjoyed, but it often spoils the wrong people.  It doesn’t usually spoil the ones actively creating the success (coaches and players) they are too busy working towards it.  It spoils the fans.  They forget winning is a precious thing that must be tended to and respected or it will go away completely.

For coaches to achieve the type of consistent success fans clamor for, requires a borderline insane focus on the task of winning and being successful that most fans can’t begin to imagine. Urban Meyer risked his health for that type of success.  People laugh when Nick Saban wins a national championship and starts worrying about off-season training and recruiting 10 minutes later.  That is how you build something that successful for a long period of time.  The fact that more coaches, particularly in college, don’t go completely off the rails mentally or physically surprises me.

There is some ephemeral line that separates fans demanding success and fans petulantly lashing out at everyone and everything when they don’t win.  I think it is somewhere between the difference of fans being disappointed with loses and angry at bad play and fans impatiently screaming for their next hit of winning and the accompanying superiority.  Winning allows fans to talk crap on Facebook because their team beat their friend’s team.  Of course both contributed to the game by watching on television and drinking beer.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve dropped a lot of things from my fandom.  Chief among them is the moral superiority of my team to yours.  I haven’t lost my love my teams, but I’m not playing so winning or losing really says very little about me.  Therefore, why would I talk smack about a game to an opposing fan?  Somewhere along the line, I have managed to untie my self-worth from my team’s success or failures.  I learned during a very cold February that no matter what befalls you personally, the world will keep spinning.  I think that is even truer when it comes to how good or bad your favorite team is.  My team’s losing may make life a little more annoying, but it will go on regardless.

The Games and The People Who Play Them Are All I Need

Posted in sports with tags , , , on January 5, 2013 by cueball

I don’t care about betting lines.  I don’t really care about breaking down individual games.  I love sports for the immersive experience and for the chance to see something I will never see again that amazes me.

There are people (Many are prominent writers that I like and respect) who say they can’t really watch a game unless they have some kind of rooting and/or betting interest.  They need the adrenaline fix from potentially losing something in each game.  I do not have that problem.  To me needing to bet on sports to make them more interesting is gilding the lily.  I will watch almost any sport at any time.

I do care about the individuals involved:  The players, coaches, referees, and fans.  I care about how this boiling soup of competing emotions and wills.  Sometimes for me having a rooting interest makes enjoying the experience almost impossible.

The 2009 college basketball season is a great example.  I do not know if I enjoyed the 2009 basketball season even though my alma mater UNC won the national championship.  The problem was all of us fans, commentators, players and coaches expected that team to win the national championship.  That made every game a referendum on that potentiality.  Every game, especially late in the season and most especially in the NCAA tournament took on a weight that made the games almost unbearable.

Even playing fantasy sports makes watching a slightly strange experience for me.  This is similar to the “observer effect” in science.  Simply stated, the act of observing phenomena actually changes the phenomena.  Having a rooting interest in a team changes the way I watch the game.  Sometimes it is for the worse, but sometimes it is for the better.

While watching a team that is expected to win play is almost unbearable at times, watching a team that doesn’t have that pressure is almost liberating.  You enjoy every small victory and you can watch the growth of the team throughout a season, which is part of why we watch sports.

One of my favorite UNC teams is the one just two season before the 2009 Championship, 2006-2007, that made it to the Elite Eight.  It was not a total surprise, but most felt that the team was one more year away from being close to that good.  That season was a fun ride with a fun and likable team right up to the loss to Georgetown.

A question I would have for gamblers who have favorite teams, do you ever bet against that team?  The follow up is, if you bet against your team to lose are you happier if the team wins or if you win you bet?  Even if I thought UNC was going to lose, I would never bet against UNC.  I would just not make the bet.  I also could not bet on UNC to win.  In either situation, once I place the bet, I will be disappointed regardless of the outcome.  Which raises the question, what was the point of betting?

I’m not against betting lines or gambling on games.  When I think about games I do use the betting lines to see how the people that know things see the game going.  Gambling and betting on games is fine for many people.  I’m just not wired emotionally to do it and do it effectively.  I have enough crazy crap rolling through my mind at any given time without adding gambling pressure.

Sports, They are something

Posted in sports with tags , , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by cueball

I cried on January 22, 1983.  My then favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, lost to the San Francisco Forty-Niners in dramatic Joe Montana fashion.  A year earlier on March 29, 1982, I felt just as much emotion.  This time it was the opposite because my beloved University of North Carolina Tar Heel Men’s Basketball team had won the national championship in equally dramatic fashion.

I wish I could go back to that 8 and 9 year old child’s attitude towards sports.  It was pure.  The games were pure, the players were pure.  Everything was hopeful and everyone seemed to give a damn.

If you’ve been one of the three people who have read any of my posts, you have probably noticed my disappointment in what sports are.  I did not say, “…in what sports have become,” because I suspect sports have always on some level been this disappointing once you skipped past the surface, but we did not know as much.

I do not want to say we know too much, but knowing as much as we do takes away the mystery and some of the joy.  Mickey Mantle was a tragic hero beset by injuries.  Now, we know he was a drunk whose alcoholism exacerbated the failings of his career.

However, how much more do we really know.  We know how dirty, greedy, and hypocritical sports are at every level.  I suspect we don’t know even of half the real dirt that goes down.  Players and teams all have their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to get out the information they want us to have and to hide that which they don’t.  We have more information, but are we really learning anything more.

We do know more with statistics.  With computers and instant communication we have to ability to break down a player and his play into quantifiable numbers.  This is actually helpful up to a point.  That point is when you actually put players on the field.  That is why it works best in baseball.  It is the easiest sport to statistically breakdown for individual players because all the skills needed to be successful in baseball are individual and discrete skills performed in isolation from others.  Football, basketball, and soccer are sports each individual’s performance is based upon the performance of the other players around him, making it harder to use advanced statistics effectively.  That is the next frontier of sports statistics.

We also don’t get to know the players as well because of free agency.  Players deserve the freedom to move to a different team for more money, a better chance to win, or just to live in a different place.  However, in life, for everything you gain, you must give up something.  In this case freedom of movement means the loss of a more intimate fan/player relationship.  There is something special about watching a young draft pick grow from a boy to a man, literally.  Now, instead of players we have brands.  Today’s athletes sometimes seem merely like conglomerations of advertisements that blow into your town for a few years before moving on to sell more stuff somewhere else.

That is how I feel in my more cynical moments.  Then I’ll sit down and start watching a game and something amazing/interesting/funny happens and I can almost see that kid sitting in his grandmother’s house crying as Dwight Clark spikes the ball in the back of the end zone.

College basketball season is finally here

Posted in acc sports, college basketball, sports with tags , , , , , on October 13, 2012 by cueball

Sports fans are really broken down in the two basic categories as glass half-full and glass half-empty.  Most fans alternate between the two depending on the state of their team, but usually a fan has their natural state of full or empty.  I am probably more of a half-empty fan always looking for what is the worst thing that can happen and will the team be able to overcome it.

However, this upcoming basketball season as a proud alum of UNC Chapel Hill I am in my favorite mode of fandom:  Neither half-empty or half-full.  This season I have no idea how to feel about this team.  I love that.  Roy Williams could very well start two freshmen (Marcus Paige and Joel James) this season.  Two of our best returning players missed most of not all of last season with knee injuries.  Our best player, James Michael McAdoo, is a potential All-American and lottery pick, but was at best a complimentary player on last year’s team.

All of that means I have no idea what to expect.  What will probably happen is the team will start of slow and get better as the season goes along which will make it fun to watch.  Being expected to win is not as fun as some fans might think.  If you look at it half-empty, even a national championship is more relief than celebration.  If you look at it half-full, losing a national championship is crushing.

This is the type of season fans remember most fondly (or most dejectedly).  If a team over achieves and makes an unexpected run of success then it will become part of the program’s lore.  If the team implodes, it will become a cautionary tale.  My hope is I will speak fondly of Marcus Paige being mature beyond his years, JP Tokoto flying around like Vince Carter, and Joel James being a lovable man-mountain in the post.

Long live basketball season.

Last night’s game

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 9, 2012 by cueball

As soon as Austin Rivers crossed half court with the ball, everyone watching knew he was going to take and make the last shot.  At least I did.  That is the part that gets me about last night.  He took it.  He made it. I didn’t get angry.  I expected to be angry or sad or any emotion in that spectrum.  Instead, I was just, “Heh.  That happened.”  

Maybe I was just stunned at the sudden end to what was a pretty good night up until the final few minutes.  Except, I’m still not emotional about it 11 hours later.  

That might come if UNC goes out and loses to Virginia this weekend.  That would mean they broke the rule to not let one bad loss turn into two or three.  

I think it might be that this season I see the UNC/Duke games outside the functioning of the season.  Sure, these games are occurring within the context of the season, but seem separated from the reality of the season.  They are similar to the final cavalry battle during the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg which had little if any impact on the outcome of the battle as whole and mainly is notable only for the introduction of George Armstrong Custer into the national consciousness.  

So, yes, I’m saying Austin Rivers=George Armstrong Custer.  So there is that.