Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Perils of Traffic

The fact that UNC beat Vermont 93-65 last night isn't all that surprising -- even given the fact that Catamounts gave Kansas a scare last month and were featured in ESPN Magazine as kind of the "Gonzaga of the Northeast." What is even less surprising is that Rashad "Robots" McCants' return flight from Mars was delayed, and resulted in him being late for the game.
Stuck in traffic and fuming, Rashad McCants kept control of his emotions. He did the same later when North Carolina coach Roy Williams told him he wouldn't be starting.

"To me, it was just focusing on the task at hand, and that was to win the game," McCants said.
McCants went on to score 19 points, but the fact that he was stuck in traffic is still a funny visual. I can see McCants in his AMC Pacer, adjusting the eight-track as he sits in traffic on his way to the Dean Dome (the fact that he lives four blocks away is beside the point). The longer he waits, the tigher he grips the wheel. To make matters worse, McCants sees Jackie Manual blow past him on his bicycle on his way to the game (and yes, Jackie's in full uniform, just like middle school). He then mutters something about "not liking me when I'm angry," turns green, busts out of his car and runs to the game.

OK, enough with the silliness. Seriously though, unless McCants is like Charles Jefferson from Fast Times at Ridgemont High ("That's Charles Jefferson. I thought they only flew him in for games!"), there really is no reason for him to be late to a game that takes place in Chapel Hill, NC.

Luckily, Roy Williams knew exactly what to say:
After arriving late, McCants' punishment was not starting for the first time this season, but he only missed about 4 1/2 minutes before he left the bench. He made a 3-pointer about 90 seconds later, and he and North Carolina were on their way.

It reminded Roy Williams of a time Michael Jordan was tardy to a Tar Heels' game because of traffic, and he made a point of telling that to McCants.

"That made him very happy," Williams said. "It's not a big deal. He's already missed time on the court, it's over and done with. I was very pleased with how he handled it."
And everyone lives happily ever after. It's amazing how much McCants has matured since he arrived in Chapel Hill and how well Williams handles him. I wonder how Doherty would have dealt with the situation if he were still running things; I wouldn't have been totally surprised if instead of showing up late, McCants decided not to show up at all -- which would mean more playing time for Adam Boone and Brian Morrison!