our 28-day forecast: no frickin’ idea


Around 1987, I was in a creative writing class taught by the renowned Max Steele at Carolina – it was about twelve of us, most of us pals, a cadre of deeply funny folks with a fair amount of talent. Max Steele himself was in his “last roar of the lion” phase, capping off his career as one of the last great Southern voices still teaching. When we saw the roster the semester before, we were jubilant, all thinking at least four great novels would come of it. The class was a disastrous bore.

My high school graduating class at Norfolk Academy was notoriously enigmatic. There were only about a hundred kids per grade, so it was possible to develop and foster a sense of kindred spirit. The class two years below us and the class right above us seemed like synergy-filled love-ins, even the nerds having Bulldog Feverâ„¢, raucous and full of inside jokes that all 100 seemed to get. Our particular grade, the Class of 1985, was balkanized and silent. When they used to list alumni donors by year, there’d be a bizarre drop-off in fundraising when it came to us.

Which leads, always, somehow, to my guys in baby blue.

I just can’t pile this all on Roy Williams, I just can’t. I know he’s getting crucified – even after getting us our 2nd National Championship in five years mere months ago – but like all art forms, basketball is beholden to the curious whims of chemistry. It’s the chaos theory of outcome, small trade winds in the mizzen topgallant sail that subtly push the warship into oncoming cannonshot. It’s fourteen small, seemingly-unrelated events that combine into insurmountable defeat.

Yes, there is always “play harder!” and “box out!” and “take care of the ball!” and “make the easy shot!” but if you accept that these are kids that don’t want to lose on purpose (and that we have a coach that dies a tiny bit inside with each loss) you have to dig deeper and find out why the little things aren’t happening.

Which, of course, is a fool’s errand. You’ll never find the source, just as you can’t unstir the milk out of the coffee. All of you have been involved in projects that just didn’t work, no matter how solid it looked on paper, no matter how many awesome people were involved. There are words for it in English: snakebit, cross-starred, unfortunate, ill-fated.

We anthropomorphize defeat to make it easier to take, but defeat doesn’t care. It is made of a list of benign ingredients that react when mixed. You can fight it, and sometimes you will win, but it’ll take mind-bending focus. Often, it’s in your best interests to take your lumps, and wait for the tincture of time, the infinite possibilities of the next day, to set you to rights once more.

0 thoughts on “our 28-day forecast: no frickin’ idea

  1. aigduke

    As a Duke fan, I must say that the ACC isn’t as much fun when UNC sucks this much. It was nice in the beginning, but it seems that everyone has given up. It’s hard to enjoy talking smack when the response is and eyerolling, “I know, I know.” Here’s looking forward to a renewed rivalry next year.

  2. Anne

    Losing sucks. The end.
    Also: My husband and son are Notre Dame fans. I’ve enjoyed watching Tyler Hansbrough’s little brother Ben playing for them in recent weeks. If it weren’t for this blog, I would have no idea what “Hansbrough” signified. So thanks for making me a better sports fan. :-)

  3. GFWD

    Wow, pity from a dook fan. For the record, even when Pete Gaudet gamely took over for Rat Bastard during his nervous breakdown, I still hated dook. Keep your pity and just hope your boys can win a home game against the Heels for the first time in the last five years over in Greensbrough Indoor Stadium.

  4. littlerattyratratrat

    Nah, GFWD, our Dook fan is right…it’s no fun hating on an unworthy opponent. Think about those years when the blue devils sucked…how much fun was it going into the tournaments without the joy of facing (and destroying) Duke to look forward to?
    It’s like the good book says, “we desire not the death of the sinner; we desire ’em good and heathy so we can enjoy kicking they’s asses.”

  5. craighill

    we have zero fire. as my ex brother in law who used to coach D-1 used to say, sometimes you gotta “motherfk” these kids and get them mean. i don’t think this team has a single person on it who is has ever gotten into a fight. as awful as it sounds, we need to get in some people’s faces and remind people that we are carolina.

  6. Robbin

    Two words: Defending Champions!
    Also, respectfully, the Duke fan can kiss it. Coach K’s band of misfits aren’t that good this year either, regardless of their ranking.
    Two more words: Duck Fuke.
    This season doesn’t concern me half as much as those horrid “silver” home uniforms.
    Let’s keep the faith, shall we . . . Legions would kill to be Carolina Blue.

  7. anon

    Robbin got it right.
    Dook sucks this year, just like they have each of the last 5.
    Since 2005, the Heels have won 2 national championships. During that time, Dook hasn’t made it past the first weekend of the tournament. Hell, they haven’t beaten us in their own freaking gym since 2005.
    Dook (and everyone else) damn well better get their lumps in now, because the Heels will be back.

  8. Lee

    if this were an episode of Numb3rs, Charlie would have some big equation on his board to come up exactly why we are losing down to an ill fitting shoe of one of the players along with another who can’t get enough sleep because he’s addicted to Time Out chicken biscuits.
    Maybe we should contact the FBI.

  9. jersey

    ‘Tis but a scratch.
    Count me among those that feel that the Duke fans can take their pity and shove it up their collective ass. Last time I checked, Carolina has won TWO national titles in the past five years, a span that hasn’t seen Duke come close to the Final Four. K is a fraud and so is his program as it currently stands. Maybe they make the Sweet 16, but then they will crash and burn like they have over the course of the last decade.
    This season was a perfect storm for the Heels – a team that lost its four best players to the NBA, no clear scorer/leader left on the roster, and a series of decent but not stellar recruits coming in. Rest assured, Marshall, Bullock and Barnes will change all that by bringing in those things that Carolina has lacked this season – a legit point guard, a consistent outside shooter, and a freak athlete swingman that can break down a defense.
    Keep the faith, Ian!

  10. Tanya

    I’ve adopted the ostrich approach. Sticking my head into the sand…let me know when it’s over.this is the only way I can cope without medication.


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