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So Saturday afternoon I had an interesting post. I guarded the locker room of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Boston College. It was a good post, one I’ve had before (for Virginia Tech and Miami), but this was UNC. This was different.
The locker room is connected to the skate lobby, which is basically a big square room with five doorways that lead to five different places: the referee’s room, the media room, bathrooms, the visitors’ locker room, and the court. When the visiting team is in the skate lobby, it’s their room. No ifs ands or buts. NOBODY is allowed to pass through the room when either they or the referees are passing through.
When the team is in their locker room, I had to check credentials and make sure only the right people got in. For the record, Roy Williams refused to wear a credential, but I let that slide, of course.
UNC comes out of their locker room very slowly, walking 2x2, rhythmically clapping and chanting “We are the Tar Heels.” It was pretty cool. But their slow entrance irritated a cameraman trying to get onto the court. Once they entered the lobby, I halted him.
“But I was walking faster than they were,” he whined.
“Yeah, but they’re North Carolina,” I replied.
I did get to see most of the game from the tunnel, which offered a sensational view of the court. And for a time, it was pretty exciting. Tyrese Rice had 23 points in the first 7 or 8 minutes, and BC held an 18 point lead early in the 2nd half. Rice finished with 46. But no other BC player had more than 8. UNC was simply too strong, too fast, and too consistent to give the Eagles a big upset win.
The crowd was the most raucous it’s been all season. It was about 40% Tar Heel fans, but the big lead gave the other 60% of the 8,500 in attendance a lot to cheer about. And because it was the #2 team in the country, there was the possibility of fans rushing the court.
There was a Locker Room discussion a few months ago about rushing the court. I was against it because it jeopardizes the safety of the referees and the visiting team. But we had a contingency plan in place.
Trying to stop a few thousand students from rushing a basketball court is impossible. The student sections are already on the floor, and if 1,000 students want to get to the court, they’re going to get to the court. So we placed people in front of them in an attempt to funnel the fans away from the Tar Heel bench. We had people specifically assigned to the referees, Roy Williams, and the UNC players. These people would act as escorts. They were also the biggest guys working the game.
But there was to be no rushing. UNC won 90-80, which allowed them to move up to #1 in the rankings earlier this week.
After all the post-game press conferences, the team left the locker room, and my assignment was over. It was a 6 hour shift, the longest I’ve had for basketball this year. As you can guess, there was a lot of media there, including the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan, who dashed out of the building with 5 minutes left in the game.
It was a pretty cool experience. Roy Williams got lost in the maze of hallways so I gave him directions. Tyler Hansbrough and other players asked me how I was doing. One of the players, I think it was Alex Stepheson, had a small Pirates of the Caribbean backpack on, to go along with his UNC equipment bag.
BC basketball has been mediocre this year. They’re 13-14, with a 4-10 ACC record that puts them 10th in the Conference. But I did get to see the KU Jayhawks come in and blow them out back in January. And unlike any of the BC players, I can tell people I successfully guarded Tyler Hansbrough and the rest of the Tar Heels.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer