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THF Countdown #19: 2001

Season: 2000-2001
Record: 26-7 overall, 13-3 ACC(1st place)
ACC Tournament: Lost to Duke in the finals

NCAA Tournament: Lost to Penn State in the 2nd Round

Roster: Brian Bersticker, Adam Boone, Michael Brooker, Jason Capel, Ronald Curry, Jim Everett, Joseph Forte, Brendan Haywood, Jonathan Holmes, Will Johnson, Kris Lang, Orlando Melendez, Brian Morrison, Max Owens, Julius Peppers.

Source: UNC Media Guide

This team was a lot like the 1992 team.  Both started out winning a ton of games including a win over Duke, who was the higher ranked team.  After that the wheels came off.  In 1992 it was probably owed more to youth and the fact UNC ended up playing five of their final eight ACC games on the road.  In 2001 it was a simple matter of bad chemistry and a harbinger of doom for the program a year later.

The problem was we had no idea what we were getting from Matt Doherty.  Doh spend several years with Roy at Kansas and then ended up at Notre Dame.  After the coaching search went to hell in a handbasket and Dick Baddour had "In the Family" tatooed on his freaking forehead to the point he was willing to hand the keys to one of the greatest programs in college basketball to some guy with only one year at the helm of a major college team.  I cannot imagine why we thought this was going to end well.

Anyway, despite the misgivings, we were all riding pretty high when UNC went to Cameron at broke a five game losing streak versus Duke.  The 18 game win streak garnered a #1 ranking until the Heels had that classic trap game at Clemson deepening my fear of playing any game at Littlejohn while ranked #1.  After that things got really touchy, more so between Jason Capel and Joe Forte but also in terms of how this team performed.  Granted UVa a top ten team but losing by 20 to the Cavs on the road sent all sorts of red flags up.

The real warning sign came when Duke visited Chapel Hill and knocked UNC around on their home court and then did worse to them the following Sunday in the ACC title game. Duke and UNC was clearly heading in two different directions with the Devils winning a national title and UNC falling completely apart against Penn State.  Penn. Freaking. State. In some ways losing to PSU may be worse than what happened against Weber St.  At least with the 1999 team it was evident the Heels simply did not have it.  In 2001, there were glimpses of greatness but that Sunday afternoon in losing to a team that is routinely at the very bottom of the Big Ten(the Big Ten people) was humiliation galore.

It was really a tough ending for Brendan Haywood's career and as it turns out for Joe Forte's too.

Countdown So Far

20. 1992
21. 1996
22. 1999
23. 2000
24. 2004
25. 1990
26. 2003
27. 2002