Monday, February 26, 2007

The Heels Can’t Find Their “Way”

Photo by ROBERT WILLETT - (Raleigh) News & Observer


Patrick Kendall

You have no idea how much that title hurts to write. The Tar Heels have no idea how difficult they made my Monday (what with Bob the Terp and all). Now, Virginia Tech and Maryland have both given losses to the two top ACC programs of the past twenty-five years and I’m left speechless at the fact.

Duke is easier to explain. They don’t have the talent. Carolina is harder to explain. They have the talent. They just don’t have the “Way.”

What is the Way, you ask?

Prepare yourselves for a journey to the Far East (of Basketball anyway) as we head to the streets of DC and NYC where the Way is sought, studied, and in some cases – attained. The Way is a mythical experience that provides guidance and calm to competitor warriors during pressure situations. Like “chi” (and the Force), the Way binds all things sports related; it surrounds athletes; it protects them. But in order to achieve Way, one must believe.

What the Heels have done instead of believing, is buying into their own hype. They believe that talent alone will be enough. They believe that by throwing bodies at the other team and trying to run them out of the gym, they will succeed. They believe that intensity is a switch that can be thrown any time, and that momentum (Uncle Mo in my house growing up) only matters when going downhill. The Heels can’t find their Way, and they will not win the Championship without it.

In 2005 Sean May was the Way. He became a force of nature on the floor; unstoppable, unyielding. Heels ’07 needs the same beacon to come to light now. Hansbrough could be the Way, but he still misses free throws at game’s end, or turns it over critically in situations that require doing the opposite. That is not the Way. Reyshawn Terry would like to be the Way because of his senior status, but he is a guy who unfortunately is only good enough to play for the Heels AFTER all the talent leaves the team.

Ty Lawson is learning his Way but he’s not ready. Freshmen rarely are. Carmelo Anthony and Pervis Ellison leap out at me as freshmen who were the Way but those guys are few and far between (17 years in fact). Brandon “I’m Still Learning How To” Wright is a little slight, a little young, and a lot deferential.

So, who can this young team turn to in its time of desperation and need?

I submit that Roy Williams must become the Way.

Think about it. In 1991, when Duke was again faced with that juggernaut of an opponent, UNLV, just one year after getting waxed in the most lopsided Championship game ever by this same exact team, Coach K had to become the Way in order for those guys to succeed. His certainty (not belief, for you must believe in the Way, but it must be done with certainty) in his players showed them the Way, and their belief brought them victory. It’s time for Roy “Where There’s a Williams, There’s a Way” Williams to follow that same path.

Now is the time for Roy Boy to pick up the torch of his forecoaches and pursue his destiny. It will not be an easy journey. His faith will be tested (by Maryland and another Williams no less!). His answers questioned. His leadership challenged.

But in the end, the journey will pay for itself because it will teach him the Way and in return he will show a young, talented group the same.

Then UNC can go out and rip Florida a new one in the Championship game and all will be balanced in the Universe.

1 comment:

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