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. What you should know about new Rays slugger Lucas Duda

    Blogs

    The MLB trade deadline is a few days away, but the Rays aren't procrastinating. Earlier today, they swung a deal for the Mets' Lucas Duda, sending minor league right-hander Drew Smith

    Slugger Lucas Duda will add some (more) power to the Rays lineup.
  2. Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets

    Blogs

    The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

    Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

    To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, …

    The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.
  3. Bucs do their best to stiff-arm the expectations

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If you want to see a team giving the Heisman trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    As always, the key to the Bucs success will be Jameis Winston. He still is only 23, but a charismatic leader that this team and this town believes deeply in. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations

    Bucs

    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.

    2008

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox

    Bucs

    They narrowly missed the playoffs by this much.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]