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Players, coach, fans celebrate championship at UNC

Posted April 7, 2009
Updated December 9, 2009

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— North Carolina has brought another NCAA men's basketball championship trophy home to campus.

The Tar Heels joined thousands of blue-clad fans at the Dean E. Smith Center on Tuesday for a rally to celebrate the program's fifth national title and its first since 2005.

Roy Williams UNC celebrates NCAA victory

Coach Roy Williams was the last to arrive, and he entered carrying the trophy and the net he helped cut down at Ford Field in Detroit.

“These young men behind me have done something that will last forever," Williams told the crowd. "They’ve been on magical ride, and they took me for a fantastic ride, and I loved every minute of it.”

An estimated 15,000 people packed into the Dean Dome to welcome home the team, returning from the Final Four in Detroit.

North Carolina claimed its second NCAA title under Williams, smashing Michigan State, 89-72, at Ford Field in a game that was far from the tense battle many expected.

The Heels led 55-34 at halftime – the 55 points was a championship game record – and slowed the pace in the second period to let the clock drip away. Ty Lawson finished with 21 points, Wayne Ellington 19, and Tyler Hansbrough 18.

"There's not much to say, but we're national champs," Hansbrough said. "And it's the best feeling in the world to know that when I come back and watch games at the Smith Center, I'll always look up and be able to remember this team and what we were a part of and what we were able to accomplish this year."

With its trouncing of Michigan State Monday night, this season's UNC team put its name in the record books as one of the NCAA's most dominant teams.

Carolina's 21-point halftime lead was the largest ever halftime margin and the 17-point winning margin is the largest in a championship since Duke in 1992. UNC's total point margin for six games, 119, is the second highest ever.

Now, the questions turn to the composition of next year's team.

Seniors Hansbrough, Danny Green and Bobby Frasor will depart. Freshmen Ed Davis, Larry Drew, Tyler Zeller and Deon Thompson, as well as sophomore Will Graves and senior Marcus Ginyard, have said they plan to return.

Before leaving Detroit Tuesday morning, Williams said he doesn't have a specific timetable when juniors Lawson and Wayne Ellington will decide if they will go to the NBA.

Williams said he hasn't spoken to the Tar Heels stars about their decision. Both players entered their names in the 2008 draft but returned to school this season.

Soon after the team's 2005 title four underclassmen opted for the NBA – Rashad McCants, Sean May, Raymond Felton and Marvin Williams – decisions the coach expected for the most part.

Williams has an idea what Lawson and Ellington will do, but "not with the conviction that I had last time," he said.

For the 30,000 fans who rushed Franklin Street following North Carolina's victory Monday night and the thousands still reliving the sweetness of a national championship, that is a worry for later.

On Tuesday, they were lining up to buy commemorative T-shirts and sports apparel to celebrate this year's team. Soffe, an apparel manufacturing company in Fayetteville, worked overnight to send out 23,000 units of clothing to department stores and local stores that sell UNC merchandise.


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  • Mom of two Apr 8, 2009

    Maybe there are more important things to some than basketball, but we won and that is important to us. Maybe people should stick to what is important to them and not waste everyones time by posting something about subjects they do not like. Tarheels worked hard and it paid off.

  • Mom of two Apr 8, 2009

    I am so upset. recorded 2-3 on ch 14 so i could go get my championship shirts, got home and had 15 minutes of players. I did not get to see the last 3 come in or anything else. I am so glad they one. To see the joy on Tylers face and everyone else was great. I will really miss the seniors next year. I am not a big fan of watching the NBA. Good Luck to everyone and Congrats.

  • DowntownGirl Apr 8, 2009

    Okay, all together now -- Rams Club money, private donations, not taxpayer money for athletic scholarships, buses, police escort, etc. This win brings national recognition to our state and however you spin it, it's a GOOD thing. It's all part of the quality of life factor that goes into bringing companies, people, movie filming... (that equates to dollars, folks) into our area. And, if the most it inconvenienced you was ten minutes on I-40, use Hwy. 70!

    Job well done, HEELS!

  • kellyaustin96 Apr 8, 2009

    Absolutely a fantastic performance:)!

    To the detractors in this thread "get a life," you are at your "sorry" station in life perhaps becuase of your negative attitude. Grow up and recognize excellence around you and allow others to enjoy.

    Also, thank-you to the State and Duke fans and alums for your congratulations.



    UNC '78

  • justacountrygirl Apr 7, 2009

    Just wanted to express how proud I am of the Tarheels!!!!!!!!! Says alot about the players' character and determination to come back for their senior year and win the BIG DANCE. They did it for their coaching staff, their university and their FANS. Give these players the credit they deserve. HEELS RULE!!
    As for the negativity surrounding the coverage of their victory, get over it!!! This is an absolute positive in the wake of daily negativity that surrounds us all.

  • weasleyes Apr 7, 2009

    Panthers54 hit the nail on the head! I am a Pack fan first but an ACC fan anytime they are playing outside the conference. Congratulations to the Heels! You deserved it and you won it! As to the economics, one local guy (at one of the few textile firms left in NC) said that "We have work coming out of our ears as a result of this! We have orders from all over the world!" That means dollars, for local people, and REAL help for the NC economy! I hope my Wolfpack will be up there again one day, but for now: "GO TARHEELS!"

  • Usually_right Apr 7, 2009

    Who cares?

  • muttley - back by popular demand Apr 7, 2009

    I'm glad the NCAA's are over!! Because of this I missed 3 soaps I keep up with... now I don't know if Missy's baby was ever found.

  • Pulling for the Tarheels Apr 7, 2009

    Dalefan - I'd be willing to bet if Dale Jr had won "the big race" and was being brought here where YOU could support him - you'd have a different tone.
    That's what "fan's" do - support their team. And yes, there probably are more important/serious things happening - but this was very important to those college boys who worked for it - can you not take just a few minutes out of your day to support their efforts without complaining?

  • superman Apr 7, 2009

    I am not a fan of UNC-- they had a great team and I am glad they won. However, to say that they did something to "last forever" is a bit of an overstatement. Basketball is great- but it ain't putting any food on my table. It is not like they discovered a cure for cancer or something. It is a shame that our only fame is basketball. WRAL furthers the cause of basketball.