Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Nice Finish

UNC wins NCAALots of great comments on yesterday’s post (“The Waiting Game”). Check ’em out if you haven’t seen ’em. I like how the discussion evolved into a consideration of “The Waiting Metagame.” Also like B.J. Nemeth’s basketball analogies, which make sense to me.

Speaking of, I’ll have to talk a little basketball this morning, being a Tar Heels fan and all. I spent a number of years in Chapel Hill, including many days sitting in classrooms and nights going to games at the Dean Dome. So yeah, you could say I was fairly interested in seeing how things went last night in the big one.

I barely remember the 1977 final versus Marquette. Phil Ford, Mike O’Koren, and Walter “Sweet D” Davis (with his fingers taped together). Had whipped UNLV in the semis, but couldn’t overcome the emotional tidal wave created by it being Al McGuire’s farewell game as a coach for the Warriors. (Remember when teams had nicknames like Warriors?) Oh, and Butch Lee and Bo Ellis had something to do with it, too.

My memory of the 1981 final versus Indiana is a bit clearer. That was the one played in the Spectrum in Philadelphia on the day President Ronald Reagan was shot. Kind of a weird vibe all around for that one, with the Heels turning in a stinker while Isiah Thomas took it to the hoop against them over and over again.

The 1982 final -- with Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty, Jimmy Black, and Big Game James Worthy -- is much more vivid. Indeed, I’ve seen that one a few times over the years, marvelling over and again at how different the game was with no shot clock or three pointers. And at Freddie Brown’s pass.

I was in Chapel Hill in 1993, and after the game went to Franklin Street along with everyone else. Blue paint everywhere, bonfires, trees being uprooted. Everybody making the “time out” sign, mimicking Webber’s endgame miscue. Donald Williams had such a sweet shot. That was a team of overachievers, for sure, with George Lynch ably leading ’em.

Was full of anxiety in 2005 when Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Sean May, and the rest let Illinois come all of the way back in the second half from 15 down to tie the sucker. But Felton hit those free throws at the end and all was well.

Have to say I had a brief flashback to that near collapse last night, but somehow knew everything was going to be just fine. UNC had too much of a chip advantage, see. (We can get back to poker now, turning B.J.’s analogy the other way around.) A blue chip advantage, so to speak. And they used their advantage well, applying pressure from the get-go. By the second half, Michigan State was in a spot where they could double up several times but still would need a miracle.

Best case scenario for us Heels fans, really. A game where there wasn’t even any need for the endgame fouling to extend the game to which B.J. alludes.

GG, Heels!

(EDIT [added 4/7/09]: Dr. Pauly, whom I believe might have won a penny or three from betting on this here UNC victory, alerted me to this nifty time lapse vid of the scene at Franklin Street Monday night. Couldn’t figure how to embed here, but click through if yr curious. Reminds me of 1993, when I was there.)

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