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UNC Basketball: Boardwashing

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On the importance of cleaning the boards.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not easy to rebound.

This is a fact of life, and a fact of basketball. There are few things that can be so readily condensed, so the things that can be ought to be identified and pointed out, like the red streak through the grey woods of a North Carolina winter that suddenly resolves to a cardinal sitting briefly on a twig.

It’s not easy to rebound.

There was a lot of hope, at least among my friends, as that famous ball dropped in a nearly-empty Times Square, that the turning of the calendar would be symbolic; a beginning of a different kind of rebound. Sometimes there are things in life that make a rebound necessary, and if the year 2020 was an errant shot that needed rebounding, it would be a nose-breaker; a near airball that knicks enough of the rim to carom rapidly downwards in an unpredictable fashion, homing in on unsuspecting heads just beginning to look upward to track the ball. 2021, at time of writing just over a week old, has not yet begun to fulfill that maybe-mad hope of folks who were clinging to anything we could find to get through the end of last year.

Like I said, it’s not easy to rebound.

In between everything else, a freshman center for the Tar Heels named Day’Ron Sharpe, in a game against a conference opponent that would eventually be decided by only two points, pulled down 16 rebounds. Seven of those came on offense, giving the Heels crucial second-chance opportunities in a tight ballgame. Anticipating how the ball will come off of the rim, boxing out the guy wearing the other team’s colors, securing the ball and coming down with possession; it’s an art form, a point of emphasis, and a fact of life for a Tar Heel big man. Day’Ron Sharpe did it 16 times in Tuesday’s game. It wasn’t until this exact sentence that I even used the word ‘the’ more than 16 times in this entire piece. My point is, 16 is a whole lot, and rebounding isn’t an easy thing to do.

It’s not easy to rebound, but it’s so important.