By Bryan Jeon
It was tough to have to see the North Carolina Tar Heels losing just all of their momentum midway through the game and then the game itself, falling to the Georgetown Hoyas 96-84 in overtime. The game wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates, as the Tar Heels were outscored in the second half and in overtime, 52-34.
It’s tough to say what stopped the train in its tracks so abruptly, but one thing is for certain; even when North Carolina was leading in the second half, it was Georgetown’s game all the way. One can blame the intangible yet extraordinary value of momentum among many reasons as to the downfall of North Carolina, but I have my own theory – the loss of their mascot.
I’m sure you all think I’m crazy for believing that a student who only steps onto the court during timeouts and halftime in a funny-looking costume has such an effect on the team’s performance, but I really believe so.
I feel that with a loss of someone close, an athlete or a team can only play on the extreme ends of the spectrum. One example of an extremely uplifting moment was when longshot Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson for the heavyweight belt just weeks after his mother died. North Carolina also played on the inspiring level to win by ten points against the USC Trojans on Friday. Unfortunately, the Tar Heels’ next game resulted in the extremely poor end of things, having no fight in them while in bereavement.
Jason Ray, 21, died Monday morning after being in critical condition for three days. Just hours before the Tar Heels’ game against USC, Ray was hit from behind with a sport utility vehicle while walking on a highway shoulder.
Emmitt Ray said his son “absolutely loved” dressing up as Rameses, the UNC mascot, despite the costume’s bulk. How cool is that? A kid who loves to dress up and get the fans fired up throughout the game will subconsciously rub off on the players’ intensity, including those focusing only on the game. Obviously, the players aren’t playing to make their mascot proud, but they bring the hustle and energy with the support of Rameses.
I know what I’m trying to say might be a little far-fetched, to say the least, but I personally feel that there would be a different team in The Final Four had the senior cheerleader been creating a ruckus in the arena.
Image courtesy of tarheelblue.com