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Losing becoming UNC’s forte

Nov 27, 2001 6:19 AM

North Carolina and the smug arrogance of its student body are easy to root against. Pardon us, if the 0-2 start brings a smile on our face.

Losing at home to “cannon fodder” like Hampton and Davidson will not fly at Chapel Hill, where fans rationalize that the only reason the sky is blue is because the Lord is a Tar Heels fan. You see, basketball at UNC is a religion.

But saying that head coach Matt Doherty should bear the brunt of the “blasphemy” may be unfair. Doherty deserves some sympathy because his three best players decided not to come back.

The big loss was Joseph Forte, who opted to enter the NBA draft after his sophomore year and is currently with the Boston Celtics.

The situation became critical when Julius Peppers and Ronald Curry decided to just play football this season. The Heels were struggling last year until Peppers and Curry joined the team and sparked an immediate turnaround.

Doherty has time to work on UNC’s problems and the Heels should be competitive when the conference season begins after New Year’s. Besides, there is always the chance Peppers and Curry will change their mind and play basketball again. The student body will pressure the duo to reconsider.

But for now it’s nice to see UNC lose, especially at the Dean Dome. Humility is a trait often lacking in Tar Heels fans.

Defects in system

After watching St. John’s blow a nine-point second half lead against Gonzaga, there is no doubt the Red Storm will miss point guard Omar Cook.

The talented freshman, hailed as the finest point guard ever to come out of New York City (until next year), decided to take the big money in the NBA after just one full season of college ball.

The continuing defections of talented underclassmen further dilutes the sport and offers the best explanation for why Hampton, Eastern Washington, and Davidson are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame.

Picks with gusto

The Jeff Sagarin ratings have long been a staple of excellence in college sports. The service is particularly stellar this year.

Sagarin was the only major poll that ranked Arizona in the top 20 when other services turned their back. The No. 4 preseason ranking paid off handsomely after the Wildcats posted consecutive wins over Maryland, Florida and Texas.

The latest Sagarin figures have Arizona ranked No. 1 ahead of Duke. That’s not all. Try Ball State sixth, Western Kentucky 10th, Detroit 15th and Southern Utah at No. 20 with a 0-1 record.

It’s refreshing to see someone take a controversial stand and back it up with stats. Too often, the same teams appear each week based on reputation.