There’s a lot going on.
It used to be that the offseason was a time to breathe, a fleeting six months where we didn’t live and die by the things we see on our television screens. Now, the news comes in waves, as we venture into a new landscape where everything is up in the air and nothing is settled in the ways we’ve become accustomed to. Some call the transfer portal a Calamity, an assault on the sport we love, a fundamental shift in the natural rules that have governed our seasonal television habits for years. Others see it as a necessary reimagining of the formula, full of exciting opportunities and creative ways to solve problems like position depth or holes in rosters left by early departures to greener fields. Whichever side you may find yourself on, the change has been bracing.
Thursday was the final day for non-grad-transferring players to enter their name into the portal. D’Marco Dunn, the very picture of potential, is gliding off into the sunset, perhaps sensing an explosive change coming for the Tar Heels’ roster next season. I was sad to see him go, personally; I always liked his game. It’s also next to impossible for someone like me to imagine not wanting to play for the Tar Heels, mostly because it was never something I would ever have to reconcile with my real-world existence. I trust that Dunn is doing the right thing for his situation, and I wish him nothing but the best wherever he lands eventually. We all have to make do with the tools we have at our disposal at any given time, and sometimes a new start is the best option.
His departure, though, is just one example of the fundamental changes that we face as fans of this sport. The way I used to depend on Tar Heel upperclassmen, as quasi-Guardians against change, is no longer a feasible way to prep for an upcoming season. We journey into an ever-changing world without knowing exactly what powers we’ll have to call on.
Still, it’s a little exciting. The sequel to this past season has promise, at the very least; a lot of new parts and as-yet-unseen ingredients to mix together in the proverbial pot with the hopes that the recipe is good enough to get us back to the promised land.
In some cases, the sequel is better than the original. The Dark Knight places higher on most people’s Batman movie list than Batman Begins, and most folks prefer The Two Towers to The Fellowship of the Ring. I’d also bet good money that most anyone who has an opinion prefers It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back to Yo! Bum Rush the Show. By all reports, the newest entry in the decades-spanning Nintendo series The Legend of Zelda follows in the footsteps laid out above by Public Enemy and Christopher Nolan. I still haven’t played, as it was released the same day that this was written and if I had done these two things in the opposite order you likely wouldn’t be reading this right now... But I’m looking forward to it.
Can it top the previous version? For both Carolina men’s basketball and the newest Nintendo Switch game, we can only hope the answer is yes. Either way, it’s a lot of fun to have something to look forward to.