“You don’t feel good about the way you’ve played. But yet you do have a great deal of confidence and a great deal of hope that you can get things turned around. Last year about this time we weren’t feeling very good either, and maybe it was as good a turnaround as we’ve ever had. There is a lot of hope.”
Yes sir. It seems that this is what it’s come to. Even for the national-championship-winner and Hall of Fame member Roy Williams. Hope – that’s the name of director Williams’ next play.
This year’s Carolina squad has baffled everyone. And I mean everyone. Yes, there are plenty of those who may have predicted a subpar season for the Tar Heels, especially with P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald dancing the NCAA limbo.
And there are those, after the Louisville and Michigan State victories, who fully flung themselves on the Tar Heel Victory Express, wholeheartedly anticipating the Final Four to be its final destination.
But no one – no one – expected to jump onto the wild and wacky roller coaster ride that has been the 2013-2014 Carolina basketball season.
The Tar Heels were cast in a performance of Jekyll and Hyde. The playbill initially featured emphatic wins clustered with head-scratching defeats. And it once starred Marcus Paige – seemingly comfortable with his name flashing in the marquee lights.
The audience was entertained and enthralled by a colorful scene filled with an ensemble cast in the Carolina victory against Rick Pitino’s defending national champion Louisville Cardinals. Then came the surprising upstaging of the then No. 1-ranked Michigan State on the road. And finally, the staging and costumes were exemplary in a white-out win against Kentucky at the Smith Center.
But depressing and heart-wrenching moments counter-balanced the blissful highs of the play. None was more resounding than the record misses from the free-throw line against the Longhorns from Texas. The director, Roy Williams, was seen fuming from backstage when the actors seemingly lost their way while the plot took a dreadful turn.
The audience was excruciatingly subjected to moon balls careening off the rim, and eerie guttural cheers for rare foul shot makes rose up from the rafters.
And then there was the thrill of the overtime act against an underwhelming team from Davidson. This time, David wasn’t quite able to topple Goliath.
But when the page turned to 2014, the up-and-down performance in Jekyll and Hyde turned consistently sour. The audience grew uncomfortable as the shots stopped falling and the fighting spirit was lost altogether. To make matters worse, their favorite star, Marcus Paige, exited stage right.
Three horrible losses ensued. The stage lights went black. Pitch black.
But then one faint light was switched on. Director Williams walked out on the stage. With a disturbed face, he apologized to the crowd. He said this performance went horribly wrong, but that he invited everyone back at a later date, free of charge.
He explained why he maintains hope for the sequel. He’s seen this happen before, he pleaded. He took responsibility for the public train wreck.
And the long and winding road continues on. All aboard the Crazy Train! Where it will stop, no Tar Heel knows.
I guess we’ll just have to wait for the world premiere of Hope, The Sequel.