Monthly Archives: April 2009
I saw this on The Today Show, and just had to Google it. This falls into the category of “now I’ve seen everything.” I wonder when our society became so lazy that even the pancake/waffle/baking mix that you just add water to or even the Bisquick Shake and Pour became so difficult and time consuming that we had to turn to this:
Yes, that’s right folks. In your grocer’s refrigerator case, you can find a canister much like a whipped cream canister that actually has pancake/waffle batter in it. And then you take it home, fire up the griddle or waffle iron (if that’s not too much trouble, mind you), squirt…yes, squirt…some batter on the heated surface of choice, and a couple minutes later you have breakfast. I just hope it hasn’t become too hard to spread butter or open the syrup bottle because unfortunately the butter and syrup do not come with the batter.
Now I can see an advantage to this and that would be for camping purposes provided you’re taking a cooler with you on the trip. It might also come in handy for dorm rooms when you’re illegally using that hot plate while studying for final exams. But really people…that’s what a Waffle House is for…they’re open 24 hours a day just for this reason.
I also realize that this product is certified organic, but a quick Google search for “organic pancake mix” will get you 152,000 results in 0.26 seconds. And if you look at the Batter Blaster website (click on the picture above) under product information, the ingredients are all pretty much readily available organic products for those of you who haven’t fallen into this much laziness and want to actually make pancake batter! What a novel concept.
Really??? I just figured out how to pronounce Freddy Keiaho’s name correctly and then we send him off into Free Agency. And now the Colts draft a guy named Fili Moala.
Sheesh…I may need to keep a speech therapist on retainer if this keeps up.
If you ask my mother, she can tell you without missing a beat the exact time both her children were born. I think virtually every mother can do this. Since I have no children, I keep exact times in my head for other reasons.
2:34 pm EST. That was the time on the clock this afternoon when the words “forgo my senior year of college eligibility and make myself available for the NBA draft” came out of Tywon Ronell Lawson’s mouth. Shortly there after, the words “I’ve also decided to forgo my senior season and declare myself eligible for the NBA Draft” came out of Wayne Robert Ellington’s mouth.
I’m not gonna lie and tell you I didn’t daydream about a different outcome. I’m definitely a wishful thinker, and I did allow myself to just briefly picture what a North Carolina team would look like if Ty and Wayne came back. But I made myself snap back to reality every time and tell myself there’s no way on God’s green earth that those two are coming back. And this time around…I’m actually ok with it. Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t hurt. That my heart didn’t skip a beat when they announced their plans. But knowing how important it is to Roy Williams (as is the Carolina Way) for any kid that leaves early to come back and finish his degree, I know these two will honor that. That coupled with the fact that they are going out as champions, I’m supporting this. I don’t know that I’ll ever agree with a player leaving after their freshman year, but after a junior year when you’ve probably got 30 hours of credit left to get your degree rather than 90 hours, that’s a little easier to take.
So, I don’t normally do this. Normally, you have to be a graduating senior, but I’m going to give a senior tribute to Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington just like I did for this year’s seniors prior to Senior Night. Based on their body of work, they have earned it because they have nothing left to prove.
- That picture is from Ty Lawson’s game winning 3 point shot against FSU this past season. More than even Duke, I think FSU has been Ty’s kryptonite. He always seemed to have to fight harder, work more when he played them. His sophomore season, Ty messed up his ankle in the FSU game to the tune of 6 games on the bench for rehab. It caused him to miss the home Duke game that season, which is the only match up against that team that his class has ever lost. I have, without reservation, had a real love/hate relationship with Ty Lawson. I remember vividly his freshman year how much he would frustrate me by running so fast from one end of the court to the top of the key at the other end, and before his teammates could get there to help with rebounding, if necessary, he’d throw up a 3 pointer and miss. Oh how I lost count the number of times I yelled at that TV screen just BEGGING him to wait for his teammates. I’ll admit I didn’t love him. I didn’t understand why people said that if it weren’t for the NBA rule requiring him to go to college for one year, he’d be in the NBA right out of high school. I didn’t see it. I’d be the first person to tell you there was no way he would have been able to play with the big boys at 18 years old. And then something happened. A whole season and a summer under the coaching of Roy Williams and his staff maybe doesn’t actually hurt a person. Imagine that. His sophomore year he started to understand that the most important stat on a point guard’s line was not points. It was assists. God bless this kid. He’s 5’11” in heels. The majority of college programs start an entire line up that is taller than him, but he plays like he’s 6’5″. They should write basketball how-to books on the evolution of Ty Lawson. I don’t think I will ever see another basketball player who can run baseline to baseline, dribbling the ball with incredible control, in 4 seconds flat. I wish there were an entire highlight reel of just those sprints. I also wish I knew how many of his career assists were to Hansbrough. By the time the final buzzer sounded in Detroit, I would have likened their connection to Manning/Harrison. People will point to Lawson’s strength in playing through the pain for the entire NCAA tournament and that’s one fabulous performance by any player at any position I’ve ever seen. But if that’s all you say about Lawson, you’re missing a lot. He could make a team pay for not guarding him enough to fund the stimulus package. He could pick your pocket better than any criminal on the streets of NYC. He could complete a crossover and get fouled for an And-1 faster than you can say defense. And he could do all of this with basketball shoes that never had their laces tied. From this point forward when I list the five greatest point guards in UNC history, it will be Phil Ford, Kenny Smith, Ed Cota (don’t challenge me on this one), Raymond Felton, and Ty Lawson. Roy Williams taught Ty Lawson a lot in these past 3 years and molded him into the NBA point guard he is ready to be. But more than that, I will remember what Ty Lawson taught all of us: to trust that he knew what he was doing and to laugh more because when you’re playing as purely as he can, it’s so much fun to watch.
- Make it Wayne. That’s what opposing teams hoped wasn’t in the forecast. I’m not sure when that saying started to describe when Wayne’s hands rained 3s, but it was probably at some point after a UNC game against Clemson. Clemson, for lack of a less crude way of putting it, is Wayne Ellington’s beotch. In his 5 career games against Clemson, Wayne totaled 124 points or 24.8 points per game. That’s a full 10 points over his career per game average. I could say enough to fill an entire blog about Wayne Ellington, but here’s what it boils down to: whatever the Tar Heels needed from him, they could count on. And sometimes they didn’t even know they needed it until Wayne did it. Need a cheerleader to light a fire under you: Wayne would be there clapping his hands or giving a chest bump. During his own shooting slump from behind the arc, Wayne became a defender and rebounder inside. Down more points than the law should allow and need overtime to beat the team: Wayne makes the clutch 3 pointer at the end of overtime. Miss a wide open 3 pointer that bounces hard off the rim: Wayne taps the ball back to you while falling out of bounds to give you a second shot that does go in. Need someone to smooth things over between you and the player who broke your nose on accident: no problem…turns out the player who broke your nose is Wayne’s best friend. Wayne has given his heart and soul to UNC. He has missed the game winning shot and come back the next year just so he could MAKE the game winning shot every time it was asked of him. In those moments during a game when you say, we could really use a stop right now or we could really use a 3 right now or we could really use some clutch free throws right now or we could really use a rebound and put back right now, you might not know this, but Wayne’s real name is “right now.” And though I know he’s going to be one of the most well rounded players in this year’s draft, I sure am gonna miss Mr. Right Now. Look out NBA…the forecast is calling for Wayne.
A few weeks ago my news feed pulled the articles from the Colts website and delivered something disturbing to me. During the season (and occasionally during the off season), the website does a Q&A with the head coach on various topics. For last seven years, the article has been titled “Sitting Down with Dungy.” The other week, for the first time, it was titled “Sitting Down with Caldwell.” I wasn’t fooling myself into believing that if I pretended Tony wasn’t retired that it wasn’t true…maybe…sort of. But even reading all the articles when he did retire and knowing that Jim Caldwell had been introduced as his successor, it just didn’t seem quite real until that news feed from the website. And then this pops up on the website this week. The new era for the Indianapolis Colts has arrived, and I either have to jump on the bus or get left behind. Consider my ticket punched.
On the 6th day of the 4th month in the year 2009, in the last game, on the last night, in the last season, in the last year of their college careers, UNC’s 2009 graduating basketball class finished their journey.
LEAVE NO DOUBT. That was the last thought I had right before the tip of the championship game. It didn’t mean I wanted Michigan State to be demolished. What I wanted was that if North Carolina was going to win the game, I didn’t want it to be luck. I didn’t want it to hinge on a controversial call by the refs. I wanted it to be so apparent that North Carolina played and won the game that NO ONE would have anything to say except that they were the undisputed champions. And then my entire body began to shake. But let me back up. When I got home from work, I still had a good three hours until game time. So, I exercised like I always do when I get home from work. Despite having the TV on to distract me, I was still alone inside my head with my thoughts. So, this might sound a little corny or crazy, but if telepathy works or not, it sort of helped me to calm down if for even just a little bit. I started picturing the face of every single one of the players and coaches in my head and one by one I sent the same thought to each of them: YOU WILL WIN THIS GAME. But that didn’t stop the shakes. It wasn’t shaking like I was cold or I had overworked my muscles or anything like that. It was honest to goodness nervous energy. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t make it stop. I’m pretty sure I could have skipped my exercising for the day based on how much I moved around during that game because of my nerves.
And then the game started…twice. Michigan State tried to be aggressive right from the tip by forcing a jump ball off the jump ball. So for only the second time this season, Tyler Hansbrough actually had to tip the ball. It was only fitting this being his last game. And despite what you might think, the game was incredibly intense. I knew with great certainty that the atmosphere, i.e., 60,000 screaming Spartan fans, was not going to affect the outcome of the game. What was going to matter was who wanted it more, who controlled the tempo, who protected the ball, and who made the plays on both ends of the floor.
So how did we get here? I had refrained from doing a review of any particular game during the tournament because it just wasn’t time. But now that the journey is complete, let’s begin at the beginning:
March 19, 2009, #16 Radford v. #1 UNC: For the first time in his three NCAA tournament appearances, Ty Lawson dressed for the game and didn’t play. As much as I know at some point in my lifetime, a #16 is going to beat a #1, it was pretty much a given Radford was not going to be that first team, so being able to let Ty Lawson sit for this game was actually a benefit. I had thought that if we could get through the first weekend, we wouldn’t have another game until the following Friday and that would get him a little more time to heal. Radford was the first step in that process. So, UNC put on a show for the Greensboro crowd including Tyler Hansbrough becoming the all-time ACC leading scorer, which he became at the 15:43 mark in the 1st half on, what else, a free throw. After that game, I did the math and figured out that if he scored 250 points in each of the next games if we made it to the championship, he could take the #1 spot in the NCAA history books from Pete Maravich…that was not to be. 🙂 The Radford coach kind of ticked me off in his post game press conference when he criticized the numbers that Tyler Hansbrough put up that day saying that he was 5-16 from the field that day, so he wasn’t that great of a player. Ok Mr. my brother coaches at a way better school than me, but I’ll sit here and criticize one of the best college basketball players to ever play the game just to make myself feel better about my team losing to them. I’ll admit, 5-16 is a rarity for Tyler, but let’s look at something else. Tyler played 20 minutes, had 22 points, made 100% of his free throw attempts, and had 5 rebounds and 4 steals. So, if you want to say that Tyler didn’t play great that day, consider this…would you rather get beat by Tyler Hansbrough on a good day or a bad day cause either way you slice it, you’re still losing the game. Radford 58, UNC 101
March 21, 2009, #8 LSU v. #1 UNC: By the time this game rolled around, I was ready to amputate Ty Lawson’s toe. I was so sick of hearing about what he was doing to rehab, how it was feeling, on a scale of 1-10 what was the pain that day. Heaven help me if I had to hear one more story about his freaking toe! My stomach was in knots the whole day leading up to this game. I actually took a nap during the beginning of it in the hopes that it would make the knots go away. Ty Lawson seemed to be playing pretty well and then he did something that caused immediate pain. Turns out it was probably just scar tissue breaking up, which is a good thing. UNC held a 9 point lead at halftime but I was far from comfortable. You see I had seen LSU a few times during the season, and the one thing I came away with from those games was that LSU never gives up. They may be down however many points, but they’ll come back and find a way. And find a way, they almost did. A 13-3 run to start the second half caused Roy Williams to call a timeout and sit each of his players down in front of him. He looked each of them in the eyes and asked if this was how they wanted to end their season/career. That seemed to do the trick and though the rest of the game was a bit intense, UNC came away with a 14 point victory. And Ty Lawson came away with his toe still attached and 23 points in 31 minutes of playing time. LSU 70, UNC 84
March 27, 2009, #4 Gonzaga v. #1 UNC: I really thought this was going to be it for us. In the days leading up to the game, I just felt it. This was going to be it. Gonzaga was going to hammer us back home to Chapel Hill. All I’d heard about was how great this Pargo kid was and how they had beaten us two years ago and how Coach Few coached very similarly to Roy Williams. I was done with Gonzaga before they even stepped foot on the court. So imagine how pleased I was when after 4 minutes, we held a 6 point lead, and by the midway point of the 1st half, we held an 11 point lead. The only concern I had was allowing what happened in the LSU game after the half to happen, again. I didn’t need to worry as the Tar Heels came out and finished Gonzaga off as if to say, “Ok, we’re done with these guys…NEXT!” And the first forgotten story of this tournament began to take shape. 25, 23, 19. Those were the point totals for Wayne Ellington in the 3 tournament games UNC had played by this point. That fire that comes from his hands when he shoots the ball as well as he was shooting it was pretty much an all out uncontrollable blaze. I kept wanting the story of Wayne’s tournament run to be hush hush so that coaches would continue to forget about him. By the time the Gonzaga game was over, Wayne was shooting 60% from the field. I have long had a special place for Wayne in my heart ever since he played on his birthday his freshman year and said he was going to score 19 points in honor of his 19th birthday and he did just that. I like a kid who keeps his promises. Gonzaga 77, UNC 98
March 29, 2009, #2 Oklahoma v. #1 UNC: If I had to hear one more word about 2008 NPOY Tyler Hansbrough going up against the probable 2009 NPOY Blake Griffin, I think I might have actually hurled. I think Tyler was sick of it. I think the entire Tar Heel team was sick of it. At some point, the media, though they love to create drama, is going to have to acknowledge that basketball is a team sport. And if Tyler Hansbrough did anything during this game, he put on a clinic about just that subject as the Tar Heels jumped out to an 11-2 lead that it never relinquished. The Heels were winning 15-4 before Tyler ever made a basket, but if there’s one thing Tyler knows it’s that he doesn’t have to make a basket on every play for his team to win. Sure Tyler scored only 8 points and pulled down 4 rebounds, but UNC won the game. And no amount of NPOY trophies is going to change that. The entire UNC team worked their behinds off to expose the elephant in the room: Oklahoma was a one man show. Now don’t get me wrong…I completely understand this. For the last couple years, UNC has even looked like a one man show, but with experience and maturity comes the ability to recognize what your other teammates can do and just how balanced a team can be when you’re not expecting one guy to do it all. Ty Lawson, for good reason, was named the South Region MVP. I was so pleased with that because until he played in the LSU game his critics were saying that he was soft and not tough enough to play through the pain. But he did. He played through the pain for three straight games and let the adrenaline be his drug of choice. The winning sure helped, too. Oklahoma 60, UNC 72
April 4, 2009, #3 Villanova v. #1 UNC: The fear set in. When you reach the point that is the farthest you’ve ever gotten, it’s scary to think anywhere beyond that. All I could think of was 40-12. It’s a game that gets under your skin and just eats away at you until you are a shell of your former self. What I knew about the Villanova game was that we were not going to let 40-12 happen, again. No matter what we had to do, 40-12 would be exorcised. And boy was it ever. That didn’t mean I knew we were going to be victorious. Oh heavens no…that was actually the complete opposite. I mean Villanova is the ultimate Cinderella team. They were on some kind of a mission to prove that 1985 wasn’t a fluke. But April 4th is the anniversary of UNC’s last national championship, and there’s just something funny about basketball karma. I cried during the team introductions and then I did a lot of breathing exercises for the remainder of the game. The Tar Heels probably could have hung 100 on Villanova if UNC had just made their free throws, but that’s ok. We didn’t have to because we, too, were on a mission. Deon Thompson was even so focused that he played one possession with his contact in his hand after it fell out. Tyler Hansbrough got bloodied and Ty Lawson’s jersey absorbed some of the blood, so Tyler had to get treated and Ty had to get a new jersey until the next timeout. But nothing fazed them. I wanted to walk outside and scream to the world WE’RE GOING TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! But I didn’t. 🙂 I was really excited to see the team kind of be happy about the win but not too happy. There was still work left to do, and to see excitement but not contentment in their eyes was very satisfying. And then the second forgotten story of the tournament took shape…his name is Ed Davis. I didn’t know much about this kid when he enrolled at Chapel Hill, but I can say with absolute certainty that I have never watched another player in my life make such a vast and noticeable improvement in his game and contribution to his team in one season other than Ed Davis. Suddenly if Ed Davis didn’t have at least 1 block and multiple rebounds in a game, then he must have been ill that day. He became a player that opposing teams just didn’t know what to do with, but thankfully Roy Williams knew exactly what to do with him. And when you throw Tyler Hansbrough, Ed Davis, AND Deon Thompson on the floor at the same time…WOW…just WOW! Villanova 69, UNC 83
April 6, 2009, #2 Michigan State v. #1 UNC: I’ve never been more nervous in my life. Not even for the 2005 championship game was I this nervous. Michigan State had their state, the hopes of a broken economy, and revenge for a 35 point loss from December on their sides. We had…well…Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson on our side. There would be no doubt just as I had hoped for right before the tip. The 60,000 green-clad fans would be silenced fairly early on in the game. And the smile that you can only see on an athlete’s face when he/she wins the highest accomplishment in their sport was waiting around to surface at the 1:03 mark in the 2nd half. It’s the smile you see on Tyler’s face in the picture at the top of this post and the one he probably fell asleep with on his face Monday night…if he actually ever did go to sleep. Favorite play of the game: Bobby Frasor’s fast break layup with 2:23 left in the game. After every thing Bobby has been through in his 4 years at Carolina, that fast break and that layup was the best conclusion to his incredible story. He doesn’t get enough credit for the things he does for this team because people look at points. He’s not going to be a 20 point guy. Heck…he’s lucky if he’s a 5 point guy. But rebounding, defending, being in the right place at the right time, that you can count on every day and twice on Sunday. Michigan State 72, UNC 89
There comes a time in every tournament when I allow myself to go down the rabbit hole. When I think to myself, wow…we could really win this whole thing and bring home the trophy. In 2005, it was when there was 5 minutes left on the clock in the championship game. In 2006, it was actually during the regular season sometime that I actually though, hmm…maybe…if you can believe that, but I don’t think I ever seriously considered a repeat. I was just proud of them for doing as well as they had the whole season. In 2007, it was going into that Georgetown game…mistake #1. In 2008, it was going into that Kansas game…mistake #2. In 2009, it’s when my mother called at 2:07 left in the game. You see, my mother doesn’t call unless the game is over…at least in championship games. We’ve been known to talk throughout other games, but during a championship game, you don’t talk on the phone until the clock says zero and those streamers are floating down. At 2:07 left on the clock, the phone rang and I smiled and went down the rabbit hole. At 1:03 when Marc Campbell, JB Tanner, Patrick Moody, Mike Copeland, and Justin Watts checked into the game, I cried. I cried and laughed and giggled (and I’m still giggling) when Tyler Hansbrough practically knocked over Coach Williams with his hug and continued the barrelling of hugs right down the bench. I lost it completely when Tyler got to Marcus Ginyard and hugged him, too. Marcus’s journey has one more chapter to be written…an epilogue if you will. I know he would have given anything to be in uniform Monday night and defending Michigan State to the bitter end. But Marcus has done his part on this team to be considered just as much a champion as the rest of them. He has pushed the starting five in practice as far as they can be pushed. And preparation (as long as you don’t listen to Allen Iverson) is a major key to winning. My heart hurt for him Monday night, but the smile on his face when it was all over, when he jumped up on that horrid raised court to celebrate, it made the hurt go away. I cannot wait to see how defensively minded we are next season with Marcus as the high ranking senior he so desperately wants to be.
Coach said to enjoy the journey not the destination. He said that he didn’t really enjoy much of the 2005 championship run because he was so focused and uptight about the whole thing but he said that if he was ever lucky enough to get back to one of these, he would certainly enjoy it much more. It has been a journey…one heck of a journey. It started 4 years ago in the fall of 2005, and 146 games later, I wouldn’t change a thing. As much as I hurt after the Georgetown and Kansas games, as much as I would have given anything to take that hurt away from the players, to have the journey they had leading up to and all the way through Monday night, I wouldn’t change a thing. You see in 4 years only one player has left early for the NBA. The only other teammates that are gone from the roster are gone because they graduated. We could have lost any number of them to the NBA between 2005 and now, but to have the memories we have from the last 4 years, the championship had to wait until its most perfect moment…its one shining moment.
I’ve done the math. In the four years since Michael Copeland, Bobby Frasor, Danny Green, and Tyler Hansbrough set foot on the campus at Chapel Hill their class has played in every game possible in an NCAA season with the exception of 9 games. That’s not 9 games in one season. That’s 9 games over 4 years. That’s 2.25 games per year that were available to play in, but they weren’t eligible for. They missed the ACC championship game their freshman year and this year. They missed the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, and Championship game their freshman year as well. Their sophomore year they missed the Final Four and the Championship game. And their junior year they missed the Championship game. Now let’s look at the games they did play. They have played in 145 games. They’ve lost 22 of them. That’s an 85% winning percentage over four years. That’s 5.5 per season. How many NCAA teams would LOVE to say they only lost 5 or 6 games every year? In the last 3 seasons, they have won more than 30 games. That is a UNC record. No other North Carolina team in its 99 years of basketball history has strung together 3 seasons of 30 or more wins.
Now what does that all mean? Well all it really means is that this senior class has won…a lot. But I can guarantee you that every single one of those seniors and every one of those juniors and freshmen could care less what their team’s winning percentage is. Or how many games they haven’t played in over their careers. They have one focus and it’s beating the next team. Because beating the next team means they bring home a trophy, they cut down the nets, they reach the point they have been fighting to reach for the last 4 years, they solidify themselves among the greatest teams in UNC history, they get invited back next season to hang not just a jersey in the rafters, but also a team banner. And if they beat that next team, when they get invited back 10, 15, 20, 25 years from now, they will know that together they did something special. Together they achieved their goals. Together they created a team that loved to play basketball, that loved playing that game with each other, that withstood the pressure from the outside world.
My favorite part about all of this is that a few of these players were never supposed to stick around all 4 years. And the most hated player in college basketball right now, Tyler Hansbrough, not only stuck around for 4 years, but tonight he is playing in the last possible game of his college career. He didn’t just stick around for 4 years. He’s sticking around until the bitter end. As much as some of the media would have liked to close the book on his college career perhaps in the 2nd round of this tournament or three years ago, he said no…we will not go that easily. It’s kind of like knowing the exact date your life expires. We know without a shadow of a doubt that tonight’s game is the last college game for this senior class. I’ve always said I hate uncertainty, but at least for just this one time I know there’s no next game to hope they get to play in. This is it, and I am beyond proud knowing that they have worked so well together to turn that possibility into a reality.
Over the last three weeks during this tournament, I’ve been reminiscing in my mind about the last 4 seasons. The good, the bad, the ugly, the fun, the joy, the smiles, the tears, the love of the game. The last 4 seasons have been one heck of a roller coaster ride. I have thought very seriously about jumping ship and I very nearly did this season when they had the 0-2 start in the ACC. But deep down I am a Tar Heel fan. I have been since I was in the womb. I may have degrees from a different school, but when you ask me what team I have been a fan of for the longest, I’m gonna say the Tar Heels and there’s not one thing I would change about that. They can make me madder than I have ever been in my entire life, but they can also make me pretty ecstatic. What I’ve come to understand during my mental review is that my life would have SUCKED without these guys.
I want desperately for THIS team to win tonight’s game because I want it SO badly for them all after everything they’ve been through in the last 4 years. The criticism, the injuries, the pressure, the hard work…all of it. I just WANT it. But here’s the bottom line. I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight. I can analyze it in my head until I’m Carolina blue in the face, but no amount of analysis is going to tell me what will happen tonight. But I know this for sure, no matter what happens tonight, I will still be a Tar Heel fan because I would rather not win with the Tar Heels than win with any other team in the nation. HANDS DOWN.