The Hansbrough Hangover

Please just make the headache stop. End the Carolina Men’s Basketball season. It’s been an excruciating year, in fact, I can’t remember my junior year at UNC being quite this painful, and the team went 8-20. Maybe I just drowned my sorrows back then.

Speaking of drinking, you know that feeling the day after a night on the town, where you’re groggy, complacent, physically beat up and just a shell of your usual self? The fun had the night before was great, and worth doing again, but it’s kind of hard to see that high through the painful low of the hangover. Welcome to the Tar Heel’s season.

I wrote back on January 5 that fans should have known the team would take its losses early against the likes of Kentucky, Texas, etc. Despite that, I thought by year’s end we’d see growth from the young players and therefore a more cohesive unit. Wrong.

As the season got worse and worse, I picked up Hard Work, the book Roy Williams wrote in the off-season, to see if it would ease the pain. It’s a good read, and does help you put winning and losing into perspective. You certainly won’t be as quick to criticize ol’ Roy for the record this year. But it’s also interesting to see his comments on last year’s championship winning team, specifically Tyler Hansbrough. Roy gushes about him just like the sports commentators did for the past few years. The guy was incredible for the Heels, don’t get me wrong (I have a #50 jersey hanging in my closet), but could he have been such an impact on and off the court that the program needs complete resuscitation after he leaves?

Of course the team lost a lot of other players that made it great. Even Bobby Frasor would have helped this year’s team tremendously. But read the passages in Hard Work where Roy talks about Tyler. It’s fascinating how much Roy admired him and what he brought to the team. There are several anecdotes about recruiting Tyler, but none about Ty, Wayne, Danny, etc. Roy said he slept less and was under more stress in 2009 than in any previous season because of all the pressure he put on himself to make sure Tyler won his championship. Despite how nauseating it might be to Carolina-haters, he must have truly been that special of a player.

We thought Ginyard would be able to be a leader this year. But his impact has been nonexistent. Does he feel, deep down, that his career ended last year when those players graduated and he was left behind with a bum leg? He roomed with Tyler and Bobby for years, and by all accounts they were great friends. Was their departure more than he could handle? Does he have a Hansbrough Hangover too?

At some point, we’ll get some answers as to why this year’s team was a train wreck. And there are some great reasons to be excited about next year’s team. Pretty soon it’ll be a new day, with the highs of 2008-2009 and the crash of 2009-2010 in the past so that the program and fans can move on and start fresh. Time is the only true cure for a hangover, so grab a bloody mary and cheers to time.

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