I WILL TELL YOU WHY etymologists believe the word fan is derived from the word fanatic. This will take a moment.
Last Saturday, my men's team, the Gentlemen Tar Heels, won its rivalry game over the Devils of Duke at Duke on Duke's senior's senior night in the hallowed confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium winning an the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title outright. On Sunday, my women's team, the Lady Tar Heels, swept its rival the Lady Devils of Duke three times this season, including in the hallowed confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium, on the Lady Tar Heels' seniors' senior night in a swan song to the Old Carmichael Auditorium winning the Atlantic Coast Conference in an undefeated regular season, and winning the ACC tournament in Greensboro for the fourth consecutive time.
My favorite North Carolina women's player, LaToya Pringle, won this year's Conference Defensive Player of the Year, announced by the league today. My favorite North Carolina women's sub, Jessica Breland, earned the league's first-ever ACC Sixth Player of the Year honor. My coach, the University of North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell, ran away with the 2008 ACC Women's Basketball Coach of the Year award – just like her team did with victories over its opponents.
I am, as a fan, of course, outraged at the injustice of it all.
Injustice Number One: Erlana Larkins was not conference player of the year. She finished second to Crystal Langhorne of Maryland, even though "E" is a better all-around player and has clearly outplayed Langhorne the last five times that UNC played against Maryland. And, oh yeah, Larkins team which she led by effort and example went undefeated in conference and tournament play.
Injustice Number Two: Cetera Degraffenreid was not ACC rookie of the year and did not make first-team all tournament, even though she replaced everybody’s All-American Ivory Latta – and the team didn’t lose a beat, including the Degraffenreid-led run to the tournament title.
Injustice Number Three: Inconceivably, Tyler Hansbrough did not shoot a single free throw in the game against Duke.
Injustice Number Four: Dick Vitale says that Jon Scheyer is his "choice for the best sixth man in college basketball" -- while he was watching Danny "Green Like Money" Green play. Not only is Green the best sixth man in college basketball, he is clairvoyant. Don't believe me? Here's what happened from the point in the game at which Mr. Dick Vitale anointed Scheyer the best sixth man in college basketball, until the game’s finish.
At 5:50 Scheyer had the ball, drove to the basket, Danny Green, coming over to help, blocks Scheyer's shot. Scheyer gets the return, puts it in for the first Duke lead since the first couple of minutes of the game. At 4:45 Green gets a rebound. At 4:35 Scheyer gets a rebound. At 3:35 Scheyer shoots, Green blocks his shot. At 2:15 Green gets a rebound. At 1:15 Scheyer shoots, Green blocks his shot. At 0:55 Lawson steals the ball, goes downcourt missing layup, Green follows with a tap-in. At 0:45 Scheyer shoots, Green blocks his shot. At 0:45 Scheyer shoots, Hansbrough blocks his shot. At 0:30 Green gets a dunk. At 0:12 Greens blocks a shot by Paulus. Ball out of bounds to Carolina. Clock at 0:00, UNC wins 76-68, having scored the last 10 points in the game.
During those 5 minutes and 45 seconds, Jon Scheyer got two rebounds and scored two points (on six shots, having five of his shots blocked). Meanwhile, Green blocked five shots, got three rebounds and scored four points (on two shots). Who sounds like the better player to you? Normally, six minutes don’t tell the story of a season – but in this case they do.
The one consolation in it all, which may be sufficient to compensate for all the disgraceful injustices enumerated above, the Speedo guy pays $45,121 a year to attend Duke University – unless, of course, he’s on scholarship.
Gary D. Gaddy played basketball regularly until he was over 50 years old, retiring from the sport like Jim Brown, no joke, at the top of his game.
A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday March 13, 2008.
Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy