Installment #7: College BB Is Back
Indeed, college basketball, one of my favorite out of all the American sports is back! I am so happy. After an abrupt and unceremonious ending to last season due to the coronavirus, us college basketball heads can finally enjoy live games again. Right on time too because I had long ago grown tired of watching old college hoops games in which I already know the outcome.
The 2020-21 campaign began more than two weeks ago now on November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. This was about two weeks later than the college basketball season usually starts, and like college football and every other sport, accommodations to this pandemic had to be made. There were no fans in some arenas and very few in others. Crowd noise had to be piped in and if you weren't playing, you had to wear a mask. About thirty games were either canceled or postponed.
However, radios and televisions were still able to broadcast over a hundred games to millions from the comfort of our homes. These games were mostly part of various beginning-of-the-year tournaments, like colleges hoops always begin. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say, it was college BB Heaven.
I am an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball fan more than any other conference and a North Carolina Tar Heels fan more than any other team. The Heels did me proud their first game. They beat the College of Charleston Cougars 79-60. Only a handful of family and friends were allowed in and they were scattered around the 21,750-seat Smith Center in Chapel Hill. There were no cheerleaders and no band, so the team would be charged with bringing their own energy.
And it was North Carolina's freshmen that brought the heat. Guard Caleb Love scored 17 points and fellow rookie Day'Ron Sharpe added 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Cougars missed their first eleven shots, helping the Tar Heels take a 14-point lead. But Charleston would come charging back, led by Brevin Galloway who had 15 points for the CofC. By halftime, North Carolina's lead had shrank to seven at 39-32.
Charleston took a 43-42 lead on forward Dontavius King's corner 3-pointer with fifteen minutes left. The Tar Heels then ran off seventeen unanswered points. This run was led by Sharpe, Love, and another freshman guard RJ Davis, who scored twelve of the seventeen for Carolina. The 17-0 burst changed a one-point deficit to a 59-43 North Carolina lead after sophomore forward/center Armando Bacot completed a three-point play at the ten minute mark of the contest. From there, it was smooth sailing for the then ranked #14 Tar Heels as they cruise to the 19-point victory.
It was good for me to witness a win for my favorite college hoops team in their first game. In a lot of ways, this feels like a rebound year, a sort of redemption season. I'm not thinking championship, although I wouldn't be mad. But last season, they posted a 14-19 record. This win-loss mark was Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams first loosing season in his career and the first loosing season I can remember and I've been a fan since 1993. So I definitely hope for better, a 25-win season and a trip to the NCAA tournament would be nice. I don't think that I'm raising the bar of expectations too high for a team that is returning everyone from the previous year except Cole Anthony. Plus, they've added four or five freshmen. Let's see can they meet expectations.