The North Carolina Tar Heels suffered their first loss of the season to the Belmont Bruins this past Sunday in Chapel Hill by a score of 83-80.
There are so many issues that need to be discussed regarding the loss that I’m not even sure where to start.
I guess a good place would be the free throw line.
Is there a new trend that cool kids miss their free throws? Every time I turn a game on I feel like I am suffering through watching Dwight Howard make four of his twelve free throws or DeAndre Jordan air ball the first of a pair and then maybe make the second. This travesty seemed to be more prevalent on the NBA level, but I guess the Tar Heels want to be cool too.
As I stated, the loss was the first of the season, but more importantly, was the first non-conference home loss for the Heels in eight years. Eight. And the main reason for the loss was not because they missed P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, it’s not because the team is relatively young, it is because the team shot 22-48 from the free throw line.
I know for a fact that I am not the only basketball fan that gets legitimately angry when players miss free throws; there have to be more of you out there. Missing free throws and ultimately losing games because of it is unacceptable. For the most part, other than going to class, these guys live in the gym. They spent countless hours working on numerous facets of the game, but apparently there are a select few who still work on free throws.
I played on the club basketball team at Chapel Hill, so I never played on a level anywhere close to the Division I level. However, I have played basketball my entire life, and one of the most important things I was taught by coaches and trainers growing up is to always start and finish a workout at the free throw line. A minimum of 25 free throws to start each workout, and 25 free throws to end each workout.
Although I was on the opposite side of the gym from the Belmont bench and fan section, I noticed one Belmont fan in particular was standing and yelling while UNC players were shooting free throws. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but I noticed the Belmont fans around him were laughing, and the UNC players were missing. When I got home, I was scanning my Twitter timeline to see if there was anything interesting, and I saw an article that Deadspin had posted titled “Belmont Fan Sings Miley Cyrus Before UNC Missed Free Throw; Bruins Win” so I had to check it out.
Sure enough, although the UNC basketball players have been shooting free throws for most of their lives, a fan singing Miley Cyrus was enough to make them lose concentration. A very creative diversion I must say, but there is no excuse to miss free throws because of a heckling fan. Players on this level deal with heckling fans every time they step on the court, and are trained to tune them out, or at least that’s what fans are led to believe.
Here is a video of the Miley Cyrus impersonator.
I hate to call anyone out, but J.P. Tokoto: what are you doing out there dude? To play at one of the most prestigious basketball schools in the country and make 4-16 free throws is unacceptable, for lack of a better word. All jokes aside, I think all of our mothers’ could realistically make four out of sixteen free throws, or at least close to it. At one point in the game, Tokoto, the 6-foot-6 sophomore wing was 2-12 from the line.
Early in the game, after he missed his first five free throws and I began getting angry, I regrettably said, about medium-volume, “Make a (expletive) free throw dude.” Don’t worry, I was the youngest person in the vicinity, so no children could hear me. It was a Sunday and I regret my choice of words, and I noticed the older man in front of me turned and glared at me as I said it. However, after Tokoto continued to make just two out of his next seven free throws, the man who glared at me was sure enough yelling the similar things, so I didn’t feel as bad about myself. Tokoto’s performance from the free throw line was so bad that every time he actually made a free throw, the entire arena stood up and cheered wildly and sarcastically.
I was offered two tickets and a parking pass (thanks Mrs. Grote) so I decided to make the hour and a half journey from Winston-Salem to Chapel Hill with a friend to watch the game. Surprisingly enough, even though I graduated from Carolina, I never get too angry when they lose, because most of the time I can see it coming a mile away. The Tar Heels trailed by seven at halftime to a mid major team: a strong mid-major team, but a mid-major nonetheless.
The Tar Heels look to bounce back from the loss to Belmont this Saturday at home against another tough mid-major team in the Richmond Spiders. I will not make the hour and a half journey to watch the game this time, as I learned my lesson this past Sunday. My birthday is this coming Sunday, and if I had one birthday wish, it would be for the Tar Heels to make at least 60 percent of their free throws in the next game. Not because I am a UNC fan, but because I am a basketball fan. Please. For all of us: make your free throws and end the torture. Play Miley Cyrus over the loud speakers at practice while shooting free throws, just in case the Richmond crowd took notes on how to leave Chapel Hill with a win.