Will Roy spit in the Mississippi River this year?
Posted October 11, 2011
This week the college basketball season will start to bloom with practices beginning across the country. All is fresh and unblemished but also sprinkled with dark and smelly fertilizer called preseason expectations.
Here are a couple of exhibits to examine.
The Phillies before this season. The Eagles before this season. The Yankees before many seasons. They all are and were loaded with top talent only to end up fantasy teams that woke up before the dream was complete. Yes, they are professional teams but that's basically what college basketball teams are now with younger players.
Some coaches cringe at the expectations dumped on them. But coaches who struggle to win would love to experience that feeling just once. Roy Williams said he felt so much pressure before and during the 2008-09 season because he so badly wanted Tyler Hansbrough and company to leave with a national championship.
With the talent returning to Chapel Hill, the same feeling could be hovering this season. But it would take more than a knee injury to Leslie McDonald to keep North Carolina off of the majority of the preseason Final 4 lists.
I think a great teaching tool for a team is how they deal with consequential postseason losses. This past March Barnes, Zeller, Henson, Strickland and Marshall all felt what it was like to fall a game shy of the Final 4. Good players don't lose that feeling they use it.
The combination of talent and drive should get the Heels to New Orleans where they are tough to beat. The Big Easy has hosted the Final 4 four times and the Tar Heels have won both times they have been there in 1982 and 1993. Roy Williams' last trip to New Orleans was in 2003 when Kansas lost to Syracuse.
That caused Williams to mutter that infamous post game sentence live on CBS. "I could give a #!%$ about North Carolina right now," he said in reference to a question about becoming UNC's next head coach.
He cares deeply now and would love another chance to go to New Orleans and continue his tradition of spitting in the Mississippi River for good luck. Just like he did in 1982 as a Tar Heel assistant before they won the crown jewel of college basketball.