Could have been better, but it has been a great four years

Well my fellow seniors, we’ve officially gotten the short end of the Carolina basketball stick. Yep, since UNC reached the Final Four in 2005, 2008 and 2009, the Class of 2013 is the only graduating class that spent four years with Roy Williams and never saw a Final Four or a national championship in men’s basketball. Ouch.

Carolina fans are a little really spoiled when it comes to basketball. We should be national championship contenders every year, right? We should rush Franklin Street every year, right? Unfortunately, ’tis not this case.

Yes, I’m a little bitter that the class of 2013 has been so unlucky (I mostly blame Creighton), but the past four years of Carolina basketball have still been special. If you don’t believe me, look up the next time you’re in the Smith Center. You’ll see two recent honored jerseys, a couple ACC championship banners and others. After Sunday’s loss to Kansas, I’m comforting myself with that and putting my faith in lil’ baby Marcus Paige to bring us a championship in the next couple years. Looking back though, it’s been a fun ride. Here are my favorite moments in Carolina basketball as a student:

Freshman Year, 2009-2010 season

Let’s be honest —there aren’t many highlights from this season. Runner-up in the NIT? Nah, I’d like to forget that season ever happened.

But hey, we had a pretty awesome team for 99 seasons before that.


Moving on….

Sophomore Year, 2010-2011 season

Sophomore year was fun. Fans got a little glimpse into what it was like to have a potentially epic team and it was certainly entertaining, with no shortage of drama.

Kendall Marshall’s first game after LDII bailed — February 6, 2011
Larry Drew II just left in the middle of the night (good riddance). Many UNC fans were left wondering what now? All the responsibility on Marshall’s shoulders, who had only been wearing a Carolina jersey for a little more than 3 months at this point in time. Marshall handled that pressure better than anyone had expected with 16 assists and so much effort that he got sick at halftime. Besides the fact KButter is one of my favorite Tar Heels of all time, this was one of the first times as a Tar Heel myself I knew basketball would be something special. Also, just know that Larry Drew II never won a NCAA tournament game. Take that!

Harrison Barnes’ buzzer beater at FSU — March 2, 2011 
I can remember watching this game. I was in the TV room of my sorority house with a couple of my friends (and I’m pretty sure someone’s parents were there). The game was coming down to the final minutes and it was definitely a nail-biter. Carolina inbounds the ball with 11.8 seconds left and we are all screaming our heads off. We are only down 1! Drive! Go! Go! Go! — then, dead silence as we hold our breath — followed by even louder cheers before. I remember thinking afterwards, this Barnes kid is for real.

Beating Duke — March 5, 2011
No, I wasn’t in the Dean Dome, but I was one of the first on Franklin Street when UNC beat Duke 81-67 and captured the ACC Regular Season Championship. I had postponed leaving for spring break and watched the game with my roommate at Top of the Hill. This was the only time I got to rush Franklin as a student, so you know that game is up there for me.

Rushing Franklin after beating Duke in 2011.

Rushing Franklin after beating Duke in 2011.

Pick up games — Spring 2011
Where else do Division I athletes and future first-round NBA picks play pick up with the students? Yeah, Carolina is pretty awesome.

Barnes dunks during a players vs. students pick up game.

Barnes dunks during a players vs. students pick up game.

Junior Year, 2011-2012 season

More than anything, I’ll remember this season bitterly. This was our year and I was positive we were going to win a national championship. But, as we all know, it doesn’t always work out the way it is supposed to.

Carrier Classic — November 11, 2012
You have to admit, this was cool. The Heels dominated Michigan State on a boat. And the likelihood of a college basketball event like that in the near future is slim after problems in 2012.

Carrier Classic viewing party in Carmichael Arena.

Carrier Classic viewing party in Carmichael Arena.

Beating Duke at Cameron and snatching the ACC Regular Season Championship — March 3, 2012
Since the highlight of my spring break that year was attending SnowBall Music Festival in Avon, Colorado, I wasn’t even in North Carolina for the game. I had ventured away from where the concerts were held (alone since none of my friends I was with go to UNC) and went into a bar (alone) and watched the game (alone, until my friend Sean decided to show up). And I’m pretty sure I was the only person in that tiny sports bar in the mountains who cared even the slightest what the outcome of the game was. And I’m absolutely positive I looked like a crazy person watching the game. But man, did it feel good to get a solid win against the Blue Devils, especially after the shot heard round the college basketball world.

Stormin’ Morman in the Sweet 16 — March 23, 2012
This has got to be my favorite tournament game as a student. With Kendall Marshall down (again, damn you Creighton) and Stillman White starting point guard, every Carolina fan was on the edge of their seat. I thought I was going to be sick. And then overtime? Why must you do this to me Tar Heels. I remember watching this game at preformal with some of my closest friends — the mood of our evening hanging in the air. But the Heels pulled through and got the W. It was a big hill to climb, but the Heels held on for one more game.

Senior Year, 2012-2013 season

This season could have been much, much worse. It started with comparisons to 2009-2010, but ultimately finished with a trip to the round of 32. Yeah, I’m sad the season is over, but still proud of how far the Heels have come.

A much needed win vs. UNLV — December 29, 2012
All anyone could say about the Heels at this point in the season was that they needed a signature win. Losses to Butler, Indiana and Texas didn’t help. Luckily, the Heels got the win against #20 UNLV even without Reggie Bullock. *Sigh of relief from Carolina fans*

Going small at Duke — February 13, 2013 
We lost this game yes, but this game was huge for us this season. After struggling most of the season (flashbacks of 2009, anyone?), Roy Williams switched the team to a smaller four-guard lineup, replacing Desmond Hubert with P.J. Hairston. Fans had been clamoring for the change for weeks (free PJ) and for most of the game, it worked. I was surprised and in a state of disbelief as I watched at Topo, drinking a couple Old Well Whites to keep my nerves (somewhat) together. Ultimately, the Heels couldn’t pull through but the match was a game-changer as far as the season goes. A team that many thought would end up it the NIT (no not again!) was suddenly getting more positive attention. Oh yeah, and this happened:

ACC Championship game vs. Miami — March 17, 2013
Miami dominated the ACC this season, fair and square. They beat every team except for Wake Forest (who the only played once), including beating the Tar Heels 68-59 at home in January and 87-61 at Miami in February. But the Heels had not yet faced the Canes with the small lineup. In my opinion, this game was the best game Carolina played all season even though we lost. Miami was just better.

NCAA Round of 64 vs. Villanova — March 22, 2013
I’m convinced they try to lose sometimes, but the Heels managed to get past Villanova in a game many thought they would never play in. Even better, the win was number 700 for UNC Coach Roy Williams, which is a huge milestone. I’ll admit it, a tear may have shed when I watched this post-game celebration.

So there it is. My favorite moments as a UNC student over the past four years. Did I miss anything? What are your favorites?

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