Saturday, February 05, 2011

Larry Drew Withdrew, UNC Tar Heel Blues

Larry Drew II UNC Tar Heel Basketball point guard
Larry Drew withdrew from UNC basketball? In February? Really??

I'm a Tar Heel, was born in Chapel Hill and graduated from UNC. Basketball is in our blood whether we play or just root for our team. This decision has got to be the wackiest decision I've ever seen regarding sports, and yet my heart goes out to a 20 year old kid who seemingly made a really bad mistake.

What an insane trip Roy Williams has had in Chapel Hill. In his 8 years at Carolina, the head coach has seen high times and low, plus a bizarre parade of events. He's had players sign letters of intent and go pro instead (J.R. Smith), leave an NCAA contender early for the NBA (Brandan Wright, Ed Davis), season-ending injuries to multiple key players (Zeller, Ginyard, Davis), the Wear twins surprisingly decide in May not to return, and the only starting senior (Will Graves) cut from the team. But when Larry Drew II decided to up and leave Carolina on Feb. 4th, just before the most intense part of the season and March Madness looming... wow, that's just something Roy Williams and the rest of us didn't see coming.

I'm not going to speculate too much as to the whys and hows. Growing up the son of an NBA player and now head coach for the Atlanta Hawks, obviously is a different situation than most. The pressures of being a starting Carolina point guard through incredibly tough seasons can't be easy either. Also coming to the Southeast for college from California isn't without the culture shock.

Right now all I can think of is how much this hurts everyone involved. It hurts Larry himself, of course probably the most, for he will have to live with this bizarre decision and the scrutiny that will come for a long time. It hurts his team, as Larry was a huge contributor to the Tar Heels despite the critics (myself included) constantly panning him. But in truth Larry was a tremendous defensive player and, at times, a hell of an offensive player as his coach always pointed out in his defense. The team played better in the last four games than they have in the past two seasons, and that is lost momentum that may be hard to replace. It hurts his teammates, for when people that close to you up and leave without any discourse it can be a hard thing to deal with. I mostly think of Tyler Zeller, another junior, and hope he handles it as well as possible. It hurts coach Williams, who undoubtedly will over-analyze his own actions and relations with Larry to the point of driving himself a bit crazier during a time when he needs every ounce of brain faculty. It hurts his family, the Drews, as Larry senior is an NBA head coach in relatively nearby Atlanta and will not hear the end of this "family decision" for a long time either. It also hurts the fans, the Tar Heel nation, because some of us were real supporters of this kid and believed the best place for him currently was coming off the bench as a back-up point guard and actually having a chance to do something no other Tar Heel has ever done (or maybe will ever do)... and that's the chance to win two NCAA National Championships.

I know, you think that sounds crazy but it's not. This team has that potential now and possibly next year if they just play to their potential. Without Larry Drew, though, it will definitely be that much harder.

All I can say is it's a bummer. I don't know what else to say. My heart goes out to you, Larry. You're still a kid and (I believe) just made a bad decision. I made lots of them at your age; I just didn't have the entire nation watching me when it happened.

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