Humiliated, yet hopeful 

You had to love the look on Roy Williams' face. It's the only thing that could keep my eyes off that tie. I wish I could have listened in on Hansbrough and Co.'s post-game weeping session. If nothing else redeems this year's tournament, the spectacular first-half drubbing of North Carolina will live on in my memory. Even Bill Self couldn't choke that lead away.

(Apologies to Stephen Curry: You just creep me out with your mom and your naps and your patchy beard and your free laundry service. Is Davidson a college or a cult? What's with those haircuts?)

My bracket ended up 49th out of the 52 entrants in my friendly neighborhood pool. <turns red> Some guy who picked Duke to win it all landed 10 spots ahead of me. <wipes away tear> I'm guessing I'm the only one with a weekly sports column.<buries face in hands> Good thing I didn't put too much money on the line. <punches wall> Or post my bracket online for the whole world to see. <cuts self>

Even after being humiliated, I'm not liable to go with the chalk next year just because of cheap specters like parity. “No guts, no glory” will still be a viable approach. Lots of teams were rebuilding this year. The SEC alone should be twice as formidable come 2009.

NCAA basketball is a coach's game and advances like chess — the board'll look a lot different next season. Let's just hope the committee takes home court advantage a little more seriously.

When you have more than one trick up your sleeve, you can afford a little transparency. It's a long wait for fall, but open practices have the Hog nation champing at the bit. Every frantic drill portends greatness to come. Every stray whistle reeks of a brand new style. We're even managing to get excited about Michael Smith.

I'm as expectant as the next guy, but you can't read these first few scrimmages like tea leaves. My major concern is the offensive line, which will undergo the most substantive changes between now and the fall. They were a major disappointment last season, and next year they will be even more vital to our success. You can't throw the ball with defenders breathing down your neck.

The Diamond Hogs continue to struggle in conference play, due primarily to their thin bullpen. We have no choice but to win from the batter's box.

Van Horn got tossed in grand fashion last Sunday, hotly contesting a check swing in the ninth inning. Maybe both he and Pel could use some work on anger management, but you can't really blame him for blowing his top. We ended up losing the game in extra innings as a direct result of the call. Every pitch counts for our relievers.

If you need an extra dose of positivity this season, keep up with Erik Hinske, Cliff Lee and other former Diamond Hog greats with the “Hogs in the Minors/Majors Update.” Sign up for the weekly update by e-mailing dpdale@aol.com.



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