Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NCAA Tournament: With this win, it's easy to see why the North Carolina Tar Heels are President Obama's darlings

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Away from the court, things are still tough. The economy continues to suffer. Unemployment remains widespread. A quarter is worth a dime.

On the other hand, there is finally some good news for America.

The First Bracket survives. All hail the First Bracket.

Yep, evidently, this is what President Barack Obama saw in the University of North Carolina basketball team when he picked the Tar Heels to win the NCAA Tournament. He saw speed, and he saw sizzle. He saw toughness, and he saw tenacity. Most of all, he saw a team that could thrive while barely taxing itself.

Alas, if only Obama's economic recovery team were this fast or this efficient.

North Carolina — Hoop Force One, if you will — played like a team the leader of the free world could appreciate Thursday afternoon. Despite playing once again without star point guard Ty Lawson, who could use a bit of recovery himself, the Tar Heels beat tiny Radford in a landslide 101-58.

This was North Carolina at its best, flying down the court, wearing down the opponent. Even if you think of the opening around of the tournament as basketball's primaries, it was an impressive thing to see.

When the Heels are running like this, and shooting like this, is there anyone who can keep up? Louisville? Pitt? UConn? Memphis? Duke?

Okay, okay. For all the attention that Obama's bracket — or Baracket, if you prefer — has garnered, let's be honest. The president didn't exactly go out on a limb and pick Binghamton, did he? No one has asked, but it's a safe bet that George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth all have North Carolina winning in their brackets, too.

Who doesn't love North Carolina? Put it this way, in the first AP poll this season, 72 sports writers out of 72 picked North Carolina as No. 1. That comes with being one of the brand names of college basketball.

So, too, do lofty expectations.

For instance, Tar Heels center Tyler Hansbrough broke the ACC scoring record. And this is how coach Roy Williams referred to it.

"I told him I put him back in because I wanted him to get a rebound," Williams said. "I didn't know if he got a rebound the whole game. He scored more points than everybody in the history of the ACC, and he went 4-for-50 (Thursday)."

For instance, Tar Heel shooting guard Wayne Ellington scored 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting. And this is how Williams referred to how well Ellington played.

"Especially after he realized we were wearing one shirt and the other team was wearing another color," Williams said. "Three turnovers in the first five minutes throwing it to the other team. During one of the timeouts, we reminded him we were the team wearing the white jersey."

For the record, Williams was mostly joking, and there was a great deal of fondness for his players contained in the banter. Still, there was a method to the jabs, as if they were reminders to his players not to be fooled by success. Even after a 43-point victory, things aren't perfect.

Take Lawson's right big toe, for instance. In the history of North Carolina, there has never been a toe that has been more widely discussed. Marilyn Monroe had six toes per foot, and none of them was talked about as much as Lawson's. Without Lawson, the Tar Heels' climb gets significantly steeper, and everyone knows it.

And so the writers crowded around Lawson's locker after the game, even though Lawson hadn't played a second. They asked about the digit. They asked about the pain. They asked about the talk-show callers who have suggested that maybe it isn't that painful.

"If anyone says that," Lawson says, "they're retarded."

Still, it says a lot about a program when thousands of people are on the Internet and telephone talking about a young man's go-to-market piggy. People have even called to suggest cures, including having a pretty girl kiss it. For the record, Lawson says the toe is better and that he expects to play Saturday. Someone alert the president.

For the record, Williams says he knows why Obama picked the Heels to win the title.

"When he played with us, nobody blocked his shot, and everybody passed him the ball, and everyone set screens for him. We wanted to let him score. And he drove to the basket one time, and Tyler didn't take his head off. So that was good."

Either that, or perhaps Obama merely noticed how quick and skilled the Tar Heels are.

Evidently, that's been noticed by a lot of people filling out brackets in a lot of offices. Even the Oval one.

NCAA Tournament: With this win, it's easy to see why the North Carolina Tar Heels are President Obama's darlings 03/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Muslim faith greater than fear for Wharton's Rania Samhouri (w/video)

    Tranckandfieldpreps

    TAMPA — Rania Samhouri graduated Monday night from Wharton High School, and many times throughout the ceremony she flashed back to a moment that changed her life.

     Rania Samhouri stretches after track practice on Monday April 24, 2017 at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. Rania, who is Muslim, recently started wearing her hijab during track competitions. She graduates from Wharton this year and will attend University of South Florida on scholarship next year.
  2. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  3. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  4. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

    "That …

    Colby Rasmus collects high fives and shoulder rubs after driving in all four of the Rays’ runs in their victory Thursday. Rasmus had two run-scoring hits a day after hitting a home run.