WEB-ONLY SPECIAL FOR MY SPECIAL WEB-ONLY READERS
IT IS GOOD TO LOSE -- sometimes. No, this is not an article written to give small consolation to Wolfpack men’s basketball fans disconsolate over their loss to the University of Florida Gators the other night on a 75-foot buzzer-beater. No one needs to console the fans of a team that won a national championship on an air ball.
Nor is this column written to console the North Carolina Central women's basketball team which recently lost to Duke 117 to 28. No, somebody at NCCU should have read up on regional holiday customs before booking that gig. In New Jersey, it is a long-standing tradition to invite over your neighbors around New Year's and beat the snot out of them. Gracious is not a good description of the Duke women as neighborly hosts.
The NCCU athletic administration might have watched the news feeds from Bangor, Maine, then they could have seen this coming Current Duke and former Maine coach Joanne P. McCallie was honored before Duke's game at the University of Maine just before Christmas with a standing ovation as a banner with her name was unveiled alongside Maine’s retired player jerseys. Duke went on to beat Maine 75-34. Gracious is not a good description of the Duke women as neighborly guests either.
No, in thinking it is good to lose -- sometimes -- I was thinking of the Tar Heel men's football team. Losing the Car Parts Bowl down in Charlotte the day after Christmas, that was a good thing.
Let me explain by corollary. Winning is not always good. In 2005 the UNC men's basketball team won the national championship over Illinois with a team dominated by underclassmen. Think about it, fans. Sure, it felt good getting treated at the Burn Center after that night's bonfire celebrations, but what about a couple of days later when the painkillers wore off and you realized your entire team was going pro? The starters -- and a freshman who didn't start a single game -- gone. The sophomore water boy took a job with Gatorade. And the consequence? The dreaded re-building season.
(If it had not been for the incoming freshman class, Roy's Boys, headed by Tyler Hansbrough, beating the Duke out of Duke at Duke on "Duke's Senior Night," this could have been a depressing and distressing season for us Tar Heel fans.)
In 2009 the UNC men's basketball team won the national championship in a rout of Michigan State. So, what happens to our batch of talented underclassmen? You got it, off to the NBA, leaving us with . . . the dreaded re-building season.
(Note to Coach Williams: Roy, please have your Tar Babies win at Duke on Saturday March 6, 2010 on Jon Scheyer’s "Senior Night." It will help us hapless fans make it through another dreaded re-building season.)
The Tar Heel football team, in contrast, not only had the sense to lose but to do it as a team. No player on the team had an outstanding game. Last year, in the previous Car Parts Bowl, some players did not cooperate in the loss. I am thinking here of unaccommodating junior Hakeem Nicks, who, playing in his hometown, set three school receiving records and shattered his career-high game in yards receiving, catching eight passes for a bowl-record 217 yards and three touchdowns -- and, of course, immediately went pro.
This season's loss in the Car Parts Bowl was good because parts of our football team which might have gone pro early did not. So, when the season kicks off against LSU next season, the Heels will be built, not re-building.
And, for those of you who think I am ignoring the elephant in the locker room, no, I am not talking about an overtime loss by the UNC men to a sub-mid-major team. That game is a great example of the Tar Heels being gracious guests at the College of Charleston’s ironically named Carolina First Arena -- and another good example of life during the dreaded re-building season.
Gary D. Gaddy left college early to work in a pizza-pie crust factory.
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy