The Sad Tarheel Fan’s Guide to the Andrew Wiggins Decision

Welcome, those of you whose taste in Cackalacky athletics (Cackala-thletics?) runs a lighter shade of blue, to the first installment of the Sad Tarheel Fan’s guide. I was hoping to write one of these after the UNC-Duke game on [DATE REDACTED OUT OF CRIPPLING SHAME], but I found myself unable to even remember that event directly, let alone sit down and write some kind of reflection on it. Even now, some months removed from the travesty, I can only think around it, and not directly about it. It’s like the girl in “Jurassic Park” looking at the Velociraptor’s reflection in a frying pan, I can only bear to focus on the dim idea of something so vicious and terrifying, not what it really looks like or the specific ways it can kill me.

Anywho, 14 May marked the latest pseudo-disappointment in the 2013 life cycle of the UNC fan, when the most athletically impressive Canadian this side of Chris Jericho (alternate cultural reference option #1: “the hottest Canadian this side of Carly Rae Jepsen,” alternate cultural reference option #2: “the most sought-after Canadian export this side of Cuban cigars”), Andrew Wiggins, elected to take his talents to a location over 800 miles from the nearest beach.

The list of reasons to be sad about this is obvious: there is a talented young player of basketball who instead of going to UNC to play basketball has chosen to play basketball at a place that isn’t UNC, etc.

Here is the list of reasons why we should be okay with it:

 

1. The last time a high-profile scoring forward came to UNC

We don’t need to re-re-re-re-rehash Harrison Barnes’ UNC career here (which ranged from underwhelming to exactly whelming), but suffice it to say that between the second half of his first year and the first half of his second year he was able to string together pretty consistently good basketball. The man had a great nickname and sold wonderful shirts, and provided fans with some pretty nice moments, but he never became the singular talent we were all led to believe he would become. This is what’s known as a cautionary tale. We owe it to ourselves to wait until at least a couple of months into next season before deciding whether or not to be retroactively sad about Andrew Wiggins choosing Kansas. Sure, he could be the next transcendent star, but he could also be the next Black Falcon.

 

2. The lineup is pretty spectacular without him, if I do say so myself

For real, though. Barring some radical status-quo shift, the 2013 Heels are going to look something like: Paige, Hairston, McAdoo, Meeks, and some rotation of Bryce Johnson and Leslie McDonald, depending on what kind of game Daggum Roy is trying to play. Paige grew tremendously over the course of last season, and we’ve already been over how awesome PJ Hairston is. The big difference maker this year, I think, is going to be Meeks, (join me in a footnote if you will[1]) who will come in as a presence inside to take some pressure off of James Michael to allow him to do what he did so well two years ago: catch defenses off-guard while they’re paying attention to something else.[2]

 

3. The narrative. The narrative!

If there’s one thing sports fans love, it’s taking a small sample size and jumping to ridiculous conclusions based on superficial implications of said narrative. Case in point: all of the “Roy Williams has a Kansas problem” stuff after this most recent NCAA tournament. Now, I’m old enough to remember Dean Smith, so I’m not fanatically devoted to Roy but the idea that Kansas holds some kind of Kryptonite is jibber-jabber of a high degree. The most recent defeat came largely at the hands of a 7-foot Senior who Carolina really had no capability to defend. Before that, Stillman White admirably attempted to lead a team who’d just lost its emotional center in his first career start, and the Black Falcon forgot to pack his wings. In 2008, the Kansas team UNC lost to turned out to be the best team in the country. If it happens, say, four or five more times, then we can start talking about some kind of specific mojo-loss that plagues Roy when he trots out against his old team, but not until then.

(For a usably large sample size, see: Dean Smith and Coach K played 38 times over the course of the former’s career at UNC, and the good Dean won 24 of those encounters, from which you can pretty much only draw one reasonable conclusion).

The point of all this being: how awesome would it be if the next annual tournament selection committee-engineered matchup between UNC and Kansas ended with Andew Wiggins in a losing effort looking across the court at a UNC team that he could have been a part of? You get your schadenfreude, your revenge, and Roy Williams gets the monkey off his back (even if it doesn’t belong there, yet, in the first place).

 

4. There’s Young Talent Needs Developing

This kind of dovetails with point 2. The glut of young, raw talent last year turned out to be a sort of disadvantage early in the season. Roy Williams was forced to rotate a wide cast of unproven players to search for a viable lineup and to test individual ability. Brice Johnson, Desmond Hubert, Joel James, and even Jackson Simmons all showed flashes of brilliance but were plagued also by mistakes. With four of the starting five all but set for next year, that fifth slot is the perfect opportunity to rotate the young, talented players that UNC already has to get them minutes and experience.

 

5. Count Your Blessings

Guys, there are people who have to live in, like, Nebraska, where they don’t even allow basketball. They have the hoops and everything but they use them for quarterback drills and to make fun of, and to shuck enormous ears of corn. Be thankful that we (and I have to assume that if you’re reading this you live in this area, and value college basketball, or more probably are a member of my family[3]) live or care about an area where the idea of a Canadian basketball wunderkind coming to ply his trade is even a remote possibility. Speaking of which, he’s Canadian, And because of this, there’s going to come a point in the year when all he wants to do is go to Hurricanes games anyway, and get fat on little pieces of circular ham, and it’s only a matter of time before the story breaks about him missing practice because he’s joined the Mounties. We can’t abide another Mountie, people.

 

6. That Said, No Matter How Badly We React, We’ll Always Be More Reasonable Than the fans in the United States of Kentucky

     Self-explainatory.

 


[1] You’ll hear a lot about a certain type of player who doesn’t wow you with statistics but provides what fans and sportswriters have come to call “intangibles.” Last season, James Michael McAdoo was the exact opposite: he had consistently good games by any statistical metric, but still managed one or two moments per game that made us all wonder if he had the flu, or if his talent had been stolen by the Monstars. I submit that 2012 J.M.M. was college basketball’s only entirely tangible player.

[2] Another exciting thing about Meeks is that his highlight videos have, like, no dunks in them. It’s all soft-handed turnaround finesse stuff, as in: basketball that requires more than the ability to jump.

[3] Or, most probably, are Shane Ryan himself, the Willy Wonka to the RTP Chocolate Factory that is Tobacco Road Blues, evaluating whether or not this piece is fit for consumption or should be inflated and discarded like Augustus Gloop.

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