Tonight is cold, snowy and Carolina blue
Tonight is one of the holiest ones of the basketball season: UNC is playing Duke. If you didn’t know that, or don’t care about it, just put the paper down now. You wouldn’t understand how UNC Royaholics feel today, or often this season. You just wouldn’t “get” our agonizing over the bewildering losses, the repeated miscalculations -- and the frickin’ inability to make a frickin’ foul shot - that have overwhelmed our hero … oh, and the boys, too … this season.
(And now, it’s snowing. No, not just snowing, I mean, like blizzarding. And, it happened in approximately 15 minutes, I am not kidding. I had taken the dogs into the bank in town (well, not actually “in” -- they frown on that ever since the leash incident of 2005 ... (shudder)) and was explaining to the drive-through lady that I needed six ones in order to include $3 for each grandson, to whom I’d lost SuperBowl bets, and honestly, when I drove in, there wasn’t a flake in sight. When I finished up, snow was falling like an Alaskan whiteout. I briefly considered tying the dogs to the front of the car and “mushing” home, but their malevolent glares made me rethink.)
So problems plagued the Tar Heels early on, from Roy (who keeps having dizzy spells, which I think are just head rushes from high blood pressure due to furious exasperation … I wanted to send flowers, but I thought his wife might have been irked) on down.
First of all, we just weren’t “jelling” as a team. It seemed like every player was a team unto himself, and that just doesn’t fly with Roy -- “There’s no dang i in team, boy!” They had to learn that there is more glory in passing the ball and getting the two points than in taking all the shots yourself and missing them. I called Roy to give him my expert perspective on this, but interestingly, his line was always busy.
Secondly, there’s the foul shot fiasco. Now, I have no patience with this because eight times out of 10 even I can shoot a foul shot, and I was never on a college basketball team. (I wasn’t even a walk-on for our St. Catherine’s 6TH-GRADE basketball team ... not that I wasn’t asked, of course, I was just busy with ... well ... I read a lot.) But my point is this: You aren’t moving; the other players aren’t moving; and, the basket sure as hell isn’t moving. So how hard is it to get that shot right, son?!
But, the most painful thing in the early part of this season was watching Roy’s face. His endearing smile had disappeared. His once-sparkling eyes were perplexed. His worry lines deepened and engraved themselves upon his countenance like one of the presidents on Mt. Rushmore. My poor Roy had seemed baffled by the performance of his boys, although, being a refreshingly modest southern gentleman, he’s blamed himself and his coaching shortcomings, which is hogwash! (I tried to call and comfort him several times, but again ... busy.)
Sure, it takes a while to learn the characters and quirks of new players, and for those players to learn the expectations of their coach, but not long, and then they need to “get with the program.” It’s like my parents used to say, whenever I’d come home whining that a teacher and I had a “personality conflict”: “Well, then you’d better change your personality, Missy!” (They always called me missy when I complained – I’m telling you, my childhood was just a nightmare!)
Now, I have no personal knowledge that the boys’, shall we say unrestrained self-esteem, was the problem early in the season, but that is what I suspect, having been a teacher for a long time … I mean a very, very … very long time, and so many parents today have NEVER said that sort of thing to their children.
But the good news is that we are now ON A ROLL, BABY! I think these boys may have actually remembered that they are playing for the brilliant (and adorable!) coach who’s taken not one, mind you, but TWO Carolina teams to national championships. They’ve won five in a row, the boys look great and are SO pumped every game, that I think we may not only beat Duke, but possibly, potentially, CRUSH Duke tonight!
And, the best news is that I’m watching that little scroll thingy at the bottom of the TV screen, and it just said there’s no school tomorrow because of the snow, so I’ve got a fire going, homemade soup on the stove, and I get to stay up as late as I want! I even have my emergency radio in case the power goes out, so---
No. No way! How do you cancel the Carolina-Duke game?! How is that even possible?! Sorry, gotta go -- I’ve gotta call Roy!
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting her website at www.vickiwentz.com.