UNC Falls to…….Clemson?

I’m bummed today, sad even. Something that rarely happens is really bringing me down.

In falling to Clemson Wednesday, UNC added an “L”  to a, well, I guess you can call it a “rivalry.” But for the most part, it isn’t one. After last night, the series stands at 122 wins for UNC, 20 for Clemson. Carolina has, and will always hold the trump card over its brothers to the south.

So why does this loss hurt so much?

Is it the fact that even though both teams held similar national rankings, Clemson students stormed the court? Andy Katz feels it was justifed. Though I might (actually certainly do) disagree.

Is it because the Roy Williams era has more or less consisted of Williams spoiling us with Final Fours and National Championships, and we just can’t take this average team?

Are we just suffering Tyler Hansbrough withdrawal?

In my opinion it’s a combination. Starting with the withdrawal part.

For the previous four years, Heels fans watched arguably the hardest-working  player to ever wear the baby blue. Hustle has been the standard. Players fed off that, and tried to match intensity with their floor leader. (Who certainly led by example, not charisma.)

This year that’s absent.

Roy’s teams need that general to run the floor and get after loose balls and just exemplify the Carolina philosophy. The whole system is about “getting it” and frankly it appears this team just doesn’t “get it” yet.

Roy looked drained throughout the Clemson game. He used an old Dean Smith tactic, putting in the “blue team” and pulling the five on the floor to sit them down and tell them why they were sucking, for lack of a better word. Even the mid-half line change didn’t rouse the Heels.

Commentator Jay Bilas even said something to the effect of, “Roy Williams is getting older with every turnover.” Last night UNC coughed it up 26 times.

So back to last night’s game’s lingering sting.  When you have players that buy into the Carolina system, you will typically not lose by 20. If everyone’s playing tough that doesn’t happen. Sure you might lose a game, but it’s not going to be the lopsided affair we witnessed last night.

To top that off, it wasn’t to an eventual national championship team, like the previous biggest loss for Roy at Carolina, Kansas. It was to Clemson.

Clemson, folks. Clemson.

The team that has NEVER won in Chapel hill, and the team that hasn’t beaten Carolina since I was in high school in 2004. The other losses this year have all had their reasons to be justified. Three of them were to top teams and the other, although a stretch, could be called a trap game. But now the eternal optimist in me is fighting really hard with the pessimist. It could possibly be a long season.

So go ahead and be sad today. It’s OK. Carolina lost to Clemson. And if you’re sad every time that happens, you’ll live a mostly happy existence.

(photo by Robert Willet of the N & O)