A year-and-a-half has passed since my last post. Seeing how the Tar Heels won it all this year (2017), it's hard to believe-- for me and for you, my reader-- that I went all year long in the 2016-17 season, and did not have the motivation to sit down and write even one blog about the team and its marvelous ride to the NCAA Basketball Championship.
Yeah, I get it. Actually, I don't get it. But for whatever reasons, and there are some, I didn't. So now, after the fact, I ponder what went on, and what lies ahead. Here are some of my musings about this and that.
- I feel really bad for Tar Heels PG Marcus Paige, and F Brice Johnson. They both had a marvelous ride during their careers at UNC, and for it all to go down to two last-minute and last-second shots was a bittersweet ending. It seems that Paige probably won't make it as a starter or player in the NBA. Did you see the replays of the double-clutch shot he made in the championship game? Nothing short of spectacular. But I guess the Villanova fans are marvelling over their player's last second shot to win the game and the title.
- As much as I feel badly for Paige, I also feel great for Tar Heels PG Joel Berry II. He also has had a great ride in Chapel Hill, and the Heels depended on him in large part to get to the NCAA Championship in 2017, along with the big play of insiders Meeks and Hicks. He dominated the other point guards in the ACC and NCAA, and played best when it mattered most. I was really proud and happy with the way he led our team.
- Not to forget to mention Justin Jackson, who came into his own in a spectacular way this past season, and like Meeks and Hicks, left in the NBA Draft. The Tar Heels are going to sorely miss players like Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks this coming year.
- After giving the starters their due, it would be amiss not to mention that reserve forward Luke Maye gave the Tar Heels some excellent play during last year, and even though Berry & Jackson led the way, UNC wouldn't have made it without his heroics in the last seconds of the Kentucky game. We'll remember that shot for a long time to come, just like we'll remember Marcus Paige's shot the year before. Only Luke's shot eventually had a happier ending.
- It is difficult to REPEAT as a NCAA basketball championship team. I can recall DUKE doing it in the 90's. I don't think anyone else has repeated that repeat since then. As a fan, I'd like to hope that the Tar Heels could manage this feat. But with so many players leaving, it's going to be difficult for them to even win the ACC title, much less the national crown.
- The Tar Heels will have Berry back for his senior season, as well as Theo Pinson, and junior Maye. They will have talented shooter G Kenny Williams back after recovering from injury. After those four, who are sure to be four out of the five starters, UNC looks very inexperienced. Most of their frontcourt graduated or left for the pros. They do have three new freshmen big's in Johnson (6'8), Brooks (6'10), and Manley (6'11). And reserve PG Seventh Woods is back after showing some promise in his freshman year.
- All in all, there are a LOT of questions surrounding this year's Tar Heels team. Will any of the freshman BIG MEN step forward? Will Kenny Williams have a great year from the 3-point line? How will Luke Maye respond as a starter rather than a reserve? The only player who is really NOT a question mark is returning PG Joel Berry. There is no reason to doubt that he will have a breakout year in his senior season. He could average 20 points a game, and he's also a great passer.
- How will the Tar Heels do this year? I look for them to win at least 20 games, but will they get back to the Final Four? Hard to say. Realistically, it looks doubtful. But less talented Tar Heel teams have made it there before.
- Check out how they play in an early three-game span against Stanford (11/20), Michigan (11/29), and Davidson (12/1), and also in a holiday game against powerhouse Ohio State (12/23). If they come out 3-1 or better in these games, it will spell out a good season the rest of the way.
- UNC will play in a Thanksgiving weekend tournament in Portland, OR and will draw either Arkansas or Oklahoma (11/24) and Connecticut, DePaul, Michigan State, or Oregon in the championship game (11/26).
- And of course, my friends tell me that Virginia and Duke have remarkable teams on the court this year, ones they say may threaten to win a championship themselves. So check out the conference games at the Cavaliers (1/6) and against the Blue Devils at home (2/8).
Okay, hopefully, I will stay in touch better this year, but alas, my perennial warning, should the Tar Heels falter, I may lose hope, and also my motivation for writing. If I got paid for this, I would do it more faithfully. Once again, I apologize to Tar Heel fans and readers of this blog for my lack of dedication and blog posts this past year. The Tar Heels performed a lot better than I did.. and I'm glad of that fact.
UNC TAR HEELS
2017 NCAA Basketball Champs