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THF Top Five Stories of 2007

Another year has come to a close and for Tar Heel fans it is has been a roller coaster. I really hate roller coasters and looking back on this year, there has been some heartbreaking stuff going on. Then again, one could argue the higher the level of success the tougher the losses when they come so late in the season.

#5. UNC returns to College World Series, loses to Oregon State again.

It is not too often that you get a second bite at the apple. In 2006, UNC was right there with a chance to go out and win the CWS against Oregon State when a ill advised visit to the mound by Mike Fox led to some shaky pitching and even shakier fielding to do the Heels in. So in 2007 when UNC found themselves in the CWS again and managed to stave off Rice in two elimination games to get into the best-of-three championship series for a rematch with Oregon State. Revenge right? Not so much as the Heels fall in two games handing the Beavers back-to-back title.

#4. Roy Williams inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Further testimony as to how deep and rich the history of basketball is at UNC. Roy became the third UNC head coach to be inducted into the Naismith HOF also has over 500 wins and currently has a winning percentage over 80%. After winning 433 games at Kansas, Roy returned to Chapel Hill and has maintained much the same level winning an ACC title last season, an NCAA title in 2005 and presently is coaching the #1 team in the country.

#3. Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson Stay in School; Brandan Wright goes to the NBA

This was the second of two events that set the table for the current season. We all knew Wright would probably go even though staying would have been the better move. Wright could have used more strength training and another year of experience. Instead he made the jump based on various projections which ended up being wrong on so many levels dropping Wright down to eighth in the draft instead of the #3 pick like so many had predicted. However, his defection to the NBA was not nearly as big a problem as Ty Lawson or Tyler Hansbrough had they chosen to go. In the end they both decided to stay and ensured UNC would be in great position the following season.

#2. The Butch Davis Era Begins

It really began in February when Davis pulled a recruiting coup on multiple players including Greg Little and Ryan Houston. By the time the season rolled around, fans were excited and there was a definite changed in tone for the program. What followed was an up and down season which saw the Heels lose six games by a total of 24 points. UNC ended up 4-8 but seemingly found a QB in T.J. Yates or if Mike Paulus catches fire a legitimate backup. Given the youth of the team the minor successes of this season bode well for some major ones in the next. However there was anxiety afoot as Davis became the object of various coaching search speculations across the country, particularly the Arkansas job. This led to UNC opting to grant Davis an extension and $291,000 raise which was hailed as everything from an extortion racket run by Davis to the end of Western civilization as we know. Now with so many major jobs now closes, Davis is safe and UNC looks forward to next season.

#1. The Georgetown Game

You would be hard pressed to find a single game which carried such great weight in terms of being a crushing loss and became the rallying cry for the following season. In other words, what happened that day in New Jersey did not simply come and go as players and fans alike slowly got over it. It really kind of stayed with us. Everything I have read leading up to the season indicates it has stayed with the players as well. The collapse versus Georgetown became the catalyst for the present quest. That game also became the point of comparison in terms of how well this UNC team is doing certain things this season versus last. This was the first event that set the course for the following season which was later confirmed by the Lawson/Hansbrough decisions. The point is that no matter what happens this season it will be judged on how UNC redeems itself from last March which means reaching a Final Four at the very least.