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November 10, 2009, 12:46 AM ET
The end of complaints about the beginning

by John Gasaway

In the hours leading up to its occurence the opening of the college basketball season came in for some discursive abuse yesterday, but I’m not going to do one of those one-link-per-word sentences that documents the abuse. You saw it, I saw it, and I’ll admit at the top that the abusers have a point.

Every year it does feel kind of weird. The sequence goes like this: Most important game imaginable, one with confetti and net-cutting. Followed by months of nothing. Followed by North Carolina suddenly wearing odd throwback uniforms with red (!) waistband piping and beating a hapless and overmatched opponent called FIU by the score of 88-72. 

But I kind of like the weirdness. If I were my friend Kyle I’d say something like: The season begins with an ending. The last time we saw this game we cringed in the tenebrous opulence of its ceaseless glare. Now in the quiet November dusk of our game’s dawn we commence where we finished. It is at once a ritual, a harbinger, a compulsion, and an invitation. An invitation to hope, to follow, to care, and to dream. If only we will take it. 

But since I’m me I say: I like it. One day there’s nothing, the next day I’m seeing John Henson for myself, instead of merely puzzling over fuzzy YouTube clips and maddeningly diffuse recruit rank-ese (big upside!). If you had a governor cutting a ribbon and giving a speech beforehand it really wouldn’t change those essentials for me.

Only thing: Call me naive but I really thought that once we had Jay Bilas chipping in with a Foreword for our book he’d be our mole, so to speak, in Bristol. Not so fast, Gasaway! Jay may be spreading copies of the book around the water cooler but the copies haven’t all been read yet. If they had, I wouldn’t have heard during last night’s game that last year the Heels ”just tried to outscore their opponents. They really didn’t start playing defense until deep into the tournament.”

Oy vey. Sometimes I think that to be tempo-free and conscious about North Carolina is to be in a constant state of correction.

BONUS season-so-far note! More book excerpting: Ed Davis is going to be a monster this year, about like Cole Aldrich last year but with way better national visibility. He had ten defensive boards and four blocks in just 23 minutes. Yes, FIU was a little on the, uh, diminutive side. With Davis you will find he does this no matter who the opponent is.  

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