It’s Groundhog Day and I’m sure you’ve heard the joke.
Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow, sees his shadow and, somebody cracks, “Uh, oh, six more weeks of bad basketball.”
Obviously, that’s not a quip we’ve heard around these parts very often, and we certainly won’t today, not with the Jayhawks No. 1 in the polls.
However, they may be uttering that Groundhog Day yukker today in, of all places, North Carolina.
Yep, the defending national champion Tar Heels are tanking terribly, and appear headed for coach Roy Williams’ worst season since his first at Kansas University more than two decades ago.
While switching channels Sunday night, I came across the Heels’ latest debacle — a 75-60 loss to downtrodden Virginia in the Dean Dome.
Williams’ team looked as drab as the brown suit he was wearing. If he ever smiled, I missed it. Ol’ Roy was Somber City, acting as if a doctor had told him he could never drink another Coca-Cola again.
Every team has mid-season slumps, but who would have believed North Carolina would drop five of seven games, including three at home?
No need to go into Williams’ accomplishments. We all know he averaged 27.8 wins a season during his 15 years at KU, and we know he won two NCAA titles in six years at Carolina.
During his early days at KU, Williams would blame himself if the Jayhawks lost, saying it was all his fault. As his tenure on Mount Oread lengthened, however, Williams stopped using the mea culpa excuse.
Interestingly, Williams is blaming himself again, or at least partially so, saying after the Virginia defeat: “I’ve gotten awfully dumb in the last six months is what someone told me, and in some ways it’s true.”
Added Williams: “It’s about as frustrating or disappointed as I have been in my entire life.”
Williams didn’t make any comparisons, but the last time one of his teams performed this poorly was his rookie year as a coach in 1988-89 and the Jayhawks dropped eight games in a row during the conference season, four in Allen Fieldhouse.
Why are the Heels struggling? I haven’t seen them in person, but you can tell a lot about a basketball team by checking out its statistics.
The first thing I checked were the UNC shooting percentages, and they were middling — 47.5 percent from the field and 66.9 percent from the free throw line. For comparison purposes, the Jayhawks’ corresponding numbers are 49.6 and 70.9.
But the really glaring stat is turnovers. Carolina has coughed the ball up 25 more times than its opponents. Kansas, meanwhile, has 50 fewer giveaways than its foes.
If you’ve seen the Heels on the tube, you know that Larry Drew II is their point guard. If you’ve been around awhile, you surely remember his father was a point guard at Missouri in the late ’70s after prepping at Kansas City Wyandotte High.
So I guess you could say that there is one player on the Tar Heels roster with at least a remote connection to the Sunflower State.
Maybe the Tar Heels are just in a temporary sinking spell. Perhaps they’ll finish strong. Right now, though, as Ol’ Roy might say, they’re “purty bad.”