Let's be clear about something. There are members of every fan base who consider it perfectly acceptable to treat the players and coaches for which they root as though they were 2nd class citizens. Among these folks there is no loyalty per se to the players but only to the uniforms. Their attitude is very much a "what have you done for me lately" one. I find this completely detestable. This is why bloggers and the new media in general is held in such contempt because any blowhard with a keyboard can get online and say things they would never say in person. Many of these individuals are people who have no idea what it is like the undertake the commitment these players have taken. Some of these folks spent the better part of their college years having fun never having to juggle going to class, going to practice and being in a very bright spotlight from Octobet to April.
This blog represents intelligent and thoughtful discussions of Tar Heel basketball. For my part I will have my share of opinions and criticisms. Heck I might refer to a player's play as being "soft" at times or lacking a certain toughness in certain situations but when I do so it will be on the basis of observation and presented in a constriuctive manner not in an way the dinigrates the player. The fact of the matter is UNC wins and loses as a team. Yes we can all point to poor or great play by individuals but at the end of the day a team wins or loses together. When UNC lost to Boston College it was not the fault of Ty Lawson or Danny Green alone. Everyone wearing white and blue that night had a hand in what went on. When Wake Forest took down the Heels, Deon Thompson or Tyler Hansbrough were not the only players who failed to do their job that night, the whole team came up short. No one player has a perfect game but taken together they can have an oustanding performance. Every player on the court will make mistakes and in the hypercritical atmosphere of anonymous message boards those mistakes are maginified and even used to define a player despite what other things they may have done right.
There is a time and place for proper criticism. The main issue with most of the internet criticism is it is based on so little information. That was the crux of Roy Williams' response to a caller Monday night who called Deon Thompson soft and said Ed Davis should start. Roy said:
“Nobody’s with my team, except Roy Williams, Joe Holladay, Steve Robinson and C.B. McGrath. Everybody can sit in their insurance office or the pharmacy or the mortgage association group or they can sit anywhere the dickens where they want to sit, but they haven’t been with my team. So don’t be calling me saying who the [heck] should be starting and who shouldn’t be starting. I’m not mad about it. I’m really not made about it, but it is senseless…
“If you’re not with someone’s team, you have no idea what’s going on. I’m being serious, and I’m not mad about it. I ask questions myself when I’m watching [games], but the fact of the matter is that the greatest example is Marvin Williams and Jawad Williams. We had two good players. If I had started Marvin Williams and brought Jawad off the bench, I don’t think it would have been as effective. And right now, we’ve got two guys – one’s averaging 7.7 rebounds a game, and the other one is averaging 6.7 rebounds a game. And they’re not doing bad…
“Coach [Bill] Guthridge had that saying one time, ‘Do not condemn thy neighbor unless you’ve walked in his moccasins for two full moons.’ And in coaching, what that means is don’t criticize and don’t question because you’re not there every day. You don’t see the things that I see. You don’t see a mistake that Deon makes or a mistake that Ed makes.
“It’s fine to be a fan. I have no problems there, but I learned from the best guy that ever coached in Dean Smith and he has not asked me one question yet about my substitutions in five years, so I don’t care what anybody else says.”
While some might think Roy is overreacting, I tend to think he is mostly right. Fans don't see what the coaches see. Fan's don't have the insight and knowledge as a coach to understand how things work. Fans take 40 minutes of game time as their only evidence of a player's performance. Fans use simplistic standards and observations that do not benefit from repeated film study. As Roy said coaches are with the players and he also pointed out, Roy does not make these decisions with input and can avail himself of Dean Smith anytime he wants. That does not mean Roy cannot be wrong, stubborn or generally cling to the wrong strategy. What it does mean is the opinion rendered by we, the fans, has very little value given how little we actually know.
Anyway, I will step down off the soap box and implore all Tar Heel fans to take a high road when talking about the players and coaches. The purpose of this blog has always been to provide a place for open discussion which is rational and pays proper respect to the players themselves and with the help of you the readers it can continue to be that.