Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Seventy Three-Seventy Two...Close for Comfort!

I really wasn't all that worried.

Going in to last Saturday's clash between my hue of blue and Jeremy's, I felt pretty confident my Cats would pull it out - after all, did you SEE Carolina against UNLV?! Or how about the way they had to battle from behind to beat the Wisconsin Badgers? Add to that the Cats' clicking defense and a hyper-charged home crowd, and I felt pretty positive about retaining the bragging rights I'd won in the 2011 Elite Eight.

Then came the game. Suddenly, the 'Heels didn't seem to suck as much. Trying to be a good sport, I'd lean over to Jeremy and say, through clenched teeth, stuff like, "Y'all have really taken us out of our offense" or "you can tell they've really been throwing up the threes in practice this week." What I was really doing, however, was buying myself a little good will - hoping that he'd be as kind to me in the aftermath, as I was (trying to be) to him as the battle raged.

For those who've never experienced it, there is a distinct difference between watching a game with a Wildcat and watching one with a Tarheel. This became clear to me early on in our relationship. Jeremy and I were at a NCAA Regional game in Charlotte last March. The 'Heels were playing Washington when I first noticed this disparity between MY people and his. MY people are painted up, jacked up, fired up, voices united, screaming, shouting, slapping hi-fives to strangers one second while cursing a missed free throw the next.

His people, on the other hand, behave at a ballgame the way most folks do at a classical music concert. We're all t-shirts and cheek tats; they're cashmere and sweater vests, or, as former Florida State baller Sam Cassell put it, they're a real "cheese-and-wine crowd, kind of laid back."

It's that way at home, too. I scream about every possession as if it's our last. "TERRENCE JONES, YOU SUCK" is immediately followed by "Nice shot, TJ. Now RUN THE FLOOR, and DO NOT let Marquis Teague handle the ball!" Jeremy sits, calmly watching while his beloved Tarheels take missed shot after missed shot, and the most rambunctious I have EVER seen him get is when he musters a single, spirited, "Come on, 'Heels" as they start their surge.

It really is phenomenal that two fan bases with equally impressive basketball legacies express their excitement in such drastically different ways, and no where is this difference better expressed than in Danny Nowell's brilliantly-written "Lexington Diary."

Nowell is a Tarheel. Following his passions for basketball and bourbon, Nowell attended last Saturday's game and described it thus, "As the game started, the atmosphere in the building became as electric as any I’ve seen. We in Chapel Hill are as passionate about our Heels, but we carve opponents’ psyches with our condescending dignity; Kentucky concusses you with blunt-force excitement."

And last Saturday's "blunt-force" was as exciting as it gets.

Great game, Baby. We'll see you in April, and when we do, remember all that "good will" I built up at Rupp, okay?


  1. I saw the score in the paper Sunday & wondered how the two of you were doing with such a close game! ;-)