Saturday night, March 5th, was a special night in these parts. Yes, the UNC men’s basketball team soundly defeated the Blue Devils at home after losing to them at Duke back in February. It was also Senior Night and Coach Williams followed his normal practice of starting all of his seniors, even though none had ever started before. After playing 95 seconds, they turned over a 3-0 lead to the 1st string. This surely was a risky decision in so important a game that would decide the ACC regular season champion, and as special as it was, to me it wasn’t the most special thing. To me, what was most special was that we witnessed hard work, determination, and perseverance paying off.
Much of the best of what we hope will come from intercollegiate athletics is reflected in that victory. Remember the last season and how much disappointment there was with the team? Remember the early part of this season and how every critic could pinpoint with laser-certainty all the ills of the team and their lackluster prospects? Well coach Williams took two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior who had never played a complete season and drew on their big-time hearts and abilities, and did the same with bench players and produced a solid winning team. Well-documented adversities didn’t hold them back; they became champions by drawing on their sheer determination and commitment to hard work.
We don’t know what will happen from this point on but we should be proud to have this team in our community reflecting the best of what athletics should be about.