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Favorites of 2018

Ending 2018 by contracting the flu gives you lots of free time. I have watched a lot of minutes of a lot of bowl games I don’t really care about (that being said, Go Aggies). Just this afternoon, I watched Top Gun and Days of Thunder back to back, and the pattern is still full and rubbin’ is still racin’.

And I also was left with quite a bit of time to look back through the 2018 archives and pull ten favorites. This started as a list of five, but was a useful reminder that even in a year everyone seems desperate to classify as a down one, the Tar Heels still gave us a ton of memorable afternoons and evenings.

So these were ten of my favorite stories from 2018. If I missed yours, let me know below.

Jan. 17: Winning Here. I had almost completely forgotten about Carolina’s home win over Clemson, which was one of the most fun nights of 2018 in the Smith Center. There were two moments that stand out to me: Woody Durham rising and waving to the crowd from the mezzanine on the night it was announced he’d made the Hall of Fame, and the raucous student section when it was announced classes had been canceled the next day.

Jan. 31: The Testimony. I promise, not all these columns are from games against Clemson. The Tar Heels lost this game, but they played an excellent second half after some halftime motivation from Roy Williams and Joel Berry. My favorite part of this story was the anecdote about Berry and Williams having a midweek conversation that was a classic window into what kind of player Berry was in Chapel Hill.

Feb. 9: Live With This. Carolina wins a home game over Duke in front of one of the best crowds in Smith Center history. Enough said.

Feb. 18: The Rim Protector. If you’re reading this, you already know I love Joel Berry. This was such a completely different (and unexpected) kind of Berry play but so perfectly emblematic of the person he is. Also, big road wins are almost always extremely fun to write about.

Feb. 21: A Winning Room. This was the kind of story I liked reading when I was growing up soaking in every word I could read about Kenny Smith and J.R. Reid and George Lynch. So those are also the kinds of stories I like writing, with a little bit of behind the scenes flavor. You already saw the game on television, so I want to show you a little bit of what you didn’t see.

March 8: Name on the Back. That pregame hug between Wes Durham and Roy Williams is high on the list of 2018 moments I remember most clearly. This was a very, very emotional night for Carolina fans, as Woody Durham had passed away less than 24 hours earlier. But there was still a game to play.

March 10: The Way It Is. If pushed, I would probably say this was my favorite game of 2018. It was such a ferocious win, such a statement win for the program, and at the time, felt like it had important consequences. It most definitely felt like a late 1980’s Carolina-Duke ACC Tournament game.

August 25: Final Floor. All the stories from reunion weekend were fun, but this was the one where every single moment was one you wanted to freeze and remember. Roy Williams and Hubert Davis trying valiantly not to cry. Marvin Williams’ great speech. The mixture between vastly different eras in Tar Heel basketball–Marvin meeting Joe Quigg was one of those indelible moments. And, of course, seeing Roy Williams’ name on the Smith Center court for the first time.

Nov. 9: The Right Place. All the discussion about Little over the last few weeks. And every single time his name comes up, I think back to this night at Elon, and the comments from the freshman and his dad, and I find something more consequential to worry about.

Dec. 15: A Grownup. Garrison Brooks impressed me on this evening about as much as any player ever has in a postgame setting.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read the ten of these stories above, and the over 100 more that were posted on GoHeels.com. Getting to be part of the way you experience Carolina athletics is one of the greatest privileges any Tar Heel could ever have.

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