Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tar Heels Beat Michigan State For National Championship!!!

Yesterday, I took a look back at the last two UNC national championships and where I was and what I was feeling during that time. I will look back on the 2009 UNC title very fondly, but this one had a much different feel to it.

Understand that the Heels have five championships now. The first four were won in close tight battles.

1957-UNC beat Kansas in a triple-overtime game.
1982-UNC beat Georgetown by one when Michael Jordan hit the game winner
1993-UNC beat Michigan in a nip and tuck contest that is best remembered for Chris Webber's timeout
2005-UNC beat Illinois in the closing minutes. The game was tied 70-70 with two minutes left. The Heels scored the last five points.

This 2009 championship was far from close. UNC jumped all over Michigan State early and never looked back. It got as close as 13 in the second half but the outcome of this game was never ... NEVER ... in doubt. It was an amazing performance by a team that was expected to win this thing all year long. That's difficult.

I will always remember this, obviously, but I may not remember this actual game as much just because it was such a blowout. I will remember the 72,000 fans that filled Ford Field. I will remember how people felt that the fact that most of that crowd would be wearing Michigan State green would affect the outcome of this game. I will remember the rout.

Most of all, I will remember this team. This is one of the most successful teams in North Carolina's storied history. Not only did they win the title, but they dominated this tournament. But it is both the journey and the players that will endure.

Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green all came back to North Carolina for this. Hansbrough has been an All-American, National Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year, all-time leading scorer in the ACC, NCAA record for most made free throws, fifth all-time in NCAA Tournament scoring and, now, national champion.

Despite the ease of this tournament, this wasn't the smoothest ride. Remember that all four of those guys toyed with the idea of leaving early for the NBA. All came back. Then you had Tyler Hansbrough's stress fracture that many people felt would affect him for a huge hunk of the season. He missed several games but it was a non-issue pretty quick.

There was the injury to Tyler Zeller in the second game of the season. He broke his wrist and missed most of the year. Instead of redshirting this season, he came back late in the year so he could be part of this title team.

Marcus Ginyard missed virtually all of the season with a broken foot. He was the glue of this team and best defender. Of course there was all the drama about Ty Lawson's toe.

Congrats to the Heels!!! And look out co-workers tomorrow!!!!

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