The Quest for Championship number 7 begins tonight from Chapel Hill, with "Late Night with Roy". Anticipation for the 2011-12 season began back in the Spring when Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zellar decided to return for another season. Along with this group the Heels bring back Kendall Marshall, Reggie Bullock, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland among others, add them to a highly ranked recruiting class featuring James McAdoo, Desmond Hubert and P.J. Hairston and you have a recipe for high expectations.
Expectations are nothing new at North Carolina. Championships are always the goal when you play for the Tar Heels. Simply take a glance into the rafters of the Smith Center if you need a reminder. You can stamp a label on this team..It is Championship or bust. But they have the leadership and talent on this roster that can handle these types of expectations. After all, part of this group who are now reaping benefits had to endure the criticism of the N.I.T. season of a couple of years ago which came after the post Tyler Hansbrough era and the 2009 Championship Season. That core group helped turn things around with a run to the N.I.T. Championship Game which carried into their successful run last season which ended one game short of the Final Four.
By most accounts the 2011-12 Tar Heels are the odds on favorites to cut down the nets again this season. But they will have to work to do it. That is what made the 2009 team so special. They did not read the press clippings. They set out a goal and kept it in hand the entire season and never let it leave their sight. This team could take a lesson from them. I am sure Coach Williams, who is excellent in keeping teams with high expecations focused and on path, will use the Hansbrough team as an example for this one.
Tonight will be the first time fans can watch the Men's and Women's teams practice for the first time this season. But it is mainly a fun evening with skits and entertainment. But the ribbon will be cut for the start of the season. Will it be another season that will result in another Championship banner? Time will tell, but enjoy the journey.