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UNC Basketball: Heat and Pressure

An ancient recipe, alive and well in offseason workouts

North Carolina v Kansas Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Diamonds are fascinating things. Setting aside the practical applications of a stone that is harder than all other stones and the significance that we have given them over generations, the way they catch the light is a sight to behold. The manner of their birth should not be overlooked, either; buried in the earth for millennia, starting as a chunk of nondescript carbon and eventually being compressed and cooked into the things that hopeless romantics hope to one day perch on the finger of a life partner. The geothermal work that goes into these brilliantly rare stones makes them valuable, which in turn leads to an exploitative trade in these shiny things that I’d be remiss not to mention.

Diamonds are a rare wonder, and that scarcity paired with the ethical and ecological impacts of diamond mining have carved out a niche for alternatives. Some lab-grown diamonds are surging in popularity due to their relative value, and moissanite gems are being offered with increasing regularity alongside diamonds. The gems are similar, but not the same. All these options, though, have at least two things in common: heat and pressure.

The 2022-2023 UNC men’s basketball team is a fascinating thing. After the near-perfect finish to last season, many fans have expectations brighter than the glint of a precious stone. A disappointing final half of basketball against Kansas did very little to tamp down the flames of excitement that flickered in bonfires in the middle of Franklin Street after the season’s second win over the Blue Devils. National talking heads and publications have turned attention back to Chapel Hill, painting the returning core of the Iron Four as a preseason top-20 team. Fans of rival schools hope that Coach Davis’ first year will prove to be a fluke. A not-insignificant portion of Tar Heel fans are hearing echoes of 2016 and looking out for a similar followup.

All of this pressure descends on courts in Chapel Hill in the midst of a heatwave, with ‘Feels Like’ temperatures soaring well over a hundred degrees and local sports bloggers reported as “just staying inside” or “only going outside to go to the pool.” Somewhere within a two-and-a-half-mile radius of my desk, there are likely pickup games being played or workouts being finished in the midst of this thick Southern heat.

Heat. Pressure. The timeless recipe for creating beautiful things. This coming season should be a fun one, but only time will tell exactly what kind of beauty we’re in for.