1 vs. 100
Next week, the 2009-10 college basketball season begins, which means we’re roughly 21 weeks away from knowing who the 2010 national champion will be in Indianapolis, IN.
There are lots of changes to this season. For my Alma mater, Alabama, they’re at year 1 of a new beginning, a new chapter with a new coach. There’s a new scoreboard for Coleman Coliseum among other improvements to the venue for this season. I have lots of memories of the basketball team when I was in school. I can remember my freshman year sitting court side behind one of the baskets for the Kentucky game. I remember going to that game specifically to see Rick Pitino. I remember thinking how strange a feeling it was when he walked out on the court, like a king had just entered the building with his bodyguards dressed like mobsters. I remember when Mark Gottfried was hired. I remember it being such a breath of fresh air when he arrived. I remember going to Midnight Madness when the NCAA still required the teams to NOT scrimmage until it was actually after midnight. I had a huge crush on Jeremy Hays. He was the center on the team when I was in college. I still have his autograph on a poster and a t-shirt. But alas, the Mark Gottfried era, though it brought an Elite Eight and Mark’s Madness student section who did their best to keep the SEC refs in check, came to an end last season. Anthony Grant was hired in March and that same newness and breath of fresh air seemed to overtake those of us who actually pay attention to Alabama basketball. It’s a spark, an excitement, a push in what we hope is the right direction for the program. And it begins with this first season.
There are lots of changes this season. For North Carolina, the team I’ve pulled for since I was in my mother’s womb begins it’s 100th basketball season next week. For the 6th time, they are beginning a season as the reigning National Champions. In some ways they are starting over, too. Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Mike Copeland, and Bobby Frasor will not be dressed in Carolina uniforms. This team will do everything they can to chart their own course, make their own legacy all the while living in the shadow of the legends that have walked that campus and played for that school. They will look to model their game after people such as Lennie Rosenbluth, Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Antawn Jamison…among 100s of others. They’ll play for the name on the front of the jersey instead of the one on the back (we hope). They’ll be guided by one of the most accomplished coaching staffs in college basketball. They will try to handle the pressure not only of living up to the legacy that has been built over the last 99 seasons of Carolina basketball, but also the pressure of the media to see what this reloaded team can do as an encore to the last 4 seasons that culminated in the school’s 6th championship.
It’s exhausting, sometimes, what these 21 weeks can bring. I know with great certainty that while I absolutely LOVE the game of basketball, I usually feel like I’ve run a marathon by the time the championship game rolls around…and all that without ever putting on a uniform or dribbling a ball, so I can’t imagine the exhaustion level of one of the players. I’m determined to have fun with this season. Last season I was frustrated with the way Mark Gottfried’s tenure ended. He deserved a better ending. And I was nervous for every Carolina game that it would be the undoing of the entire team and they wouldn’t win their championship they’d worked 4 years to win. So, this season I want it to be different. I want to enjoy it…to feel that fun that Coach Williams talks about all the time. To experience the journey whether it be with the 1 or the 100 or both.
Bring on the season.
Bring on the fun.
ROLL TIDE and GO HEELS!