It’s that time of year again. Time for the madness of the march to the Final Four – the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The pairings are out. The brackets are filled in. Now it’s time to dance.
Several of the so-called experts are picking Carolina to go all the way, to cut down the nets in St. Louis. I love my Tar Heels dearly, but I’m worried. That’s because it takes more than just great players making highlight reel-worthy plays and Hall of Fame coaches making the calls.
Shall we dance?
It’s takes team chemistry, an intangible asset that means the difference between winning it all and going home empty-handed. It’s team chemistry that Carolina has struggled with now for two or three years.
Once again, it can be traced back to the Doherty coaching years. Doh didn’t build a cohesive team. He didn’t have the skills or experience to know how to deal with today’s youngsters, who mostly look out for No. 1 and have their mind on their NBA money rather than working as a unit.
The chemistry’s been a mess because of the personalities and egos on this team. The team leader is Jawad, but in a quiet way. Sean May leads by example, and sometimes that example isn’t good (look at the Ga. Tech loss in the ACC tourney).
Rashad has the player’s spark, but he can get donw on himself in a way that infects the entire team. Raymond leads by taking everything upon himself to get it done. The rest don’t have much of an overall impact, except maybe Marvin, the young up-and-comer who will be a star in his own right.
I think the team’s chemistry was better with Rashad out of the lineup (he just returned to play in the ACC tourney). David Noel and Rayshawn Terry and Melvin Scott got more playing time and mixed in well with the starters. Rashad’s such a head case that, despite his scoring ability, he disrupts the team with his moods.
Under Doh, the team fell apart. It had no sense of itself. The group didn’t work together at all. Under Roy, it’s gotten better. It has learned the meaning and import of the Carolina family, an understanding that can translate into team chemistry.
But with this team, the chemistry is so fragile that if just one little thing is off, it falls apart. I hope the boys take it all the way. I hope that can lose themselves in the game-by-game meaning of team. I hope they come home to Chapel Hill champions.
They’ve got four days to mix that chemistry.