How can any season after a national championship compare?
I have said for years that if the Tar Heels win it all, the players can all go pro because we’re gambling with house money for the next couple of seasons. The record, not only for UNC, proves my point.
The current Tar Heels lost three starters and a sixth man from their NCAA championship team in 2017, all pros right now, and are looking at a .500 finish in the ACC and middling NCAA seed. But unless everyone returns from a title team — and often even that doesn’t do it — this is the price you pay for glory.
Look at Carolina’s first two national champs under Roy Williams. After 2005, seven regulars were lost to graduation or early entry into the NBA draft. Fortunately, senior David Noel came back and a freshman class led by Tyler Hansbrough came in. Struggling early, the 2006 Tar Heels finished fast and placed second in the ACC but went out in a second-round NCAA game.
After 2009, it was worse. Hansbrough and Danny Green graduated, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington turned pro, and the injury-racked 2010 team was the only Roy Williams UNC edition that missed the Big Dance completely.
Dean Smith won two national championships. After the first in 1982, James Worthy went pro and Jimmy Black graduated. Their successors won 18 straight games at one point and regained a No. 1 ranking. But despite Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Matt Doherty returning, faulty point guard play denied them a second straight Final Four one game short.
Everyone was back from Smith’s 1993 NCAA champs except for the glue guy, George Lynch. A great freshman class came in, but the chemistry of the year before was never recaptured and that top-ranked, top-seeded team went out in a second-round shocker to BC, snapping Smith’s streak of 13 consecutive trips to the Sweet Sixteen.
It’s commonplace. The year after N.C. State shocked the world in 1983, the Wolfpack also wasn’t good enough to make it back to the NCAA tournament. Neither was Kentucky after winning it all in 2012. Duke went nine years between its 2001 and 2010 titles.
So, Tar Heel fans, take the word of Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers: relax.