Chapel Hill Left Blue After Carolina Loss
Posted March 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST
INDIANAPOLIS & CHAPEL HILL — It was an abrupt end to a magical season which saw Carolina start 0-3 in the ACC and conclude on a 16-1 tear. That one loss came last night in the NCAA Final Four to Arizona, the team to which the Tar Heels tumbled in the first game of the season.
Some Carolina fans gathered in Franklin Street bars and restaurants hours before Saturday's game in hopes of celebrating a victory with other faithful fans. Others went all the way to Indianapolis to cheer the Tar Heels along.
But after the game, Carolina fans trickled out of the RCA Dome, trying to accentuate the positive.
"That's OK, the Heels will be back, we'll be back. Don't worry about it Tar Heel fans, we'll be back. We'll get 'em," said UNC supporter Steve Jones from Wake Forest.
Iowa Tar Heel fan Fred Moore said he felt sad for the team, but thought they gave it their all.
"Everybody gave them up for dead in January and they came back and won the tournament and won the Eastern Regional and went to the Final Four. I mean, I'm disappointed for them but I'm not disappointed in them," he said.
Some dejected fans made money though by selling their tickets to the championship game. But most of the fans couldn't go home early even if they wanted to do so. They had paid for their hotel rooms and airfare with the anticipation of a Tar Heel victory.
In Chapel Hill it was much the same scene after the game as fans slowly left the bars and restaurants where they had watched the game. Final Four fever started to fade away as the fans headed home, but a few die hard fans stuck around Franklin Street and offered a few words of optimism.
"The Heels are good," said Randy Wells. "They shouldn't have lost against Arizona, but that's how it happens."
The hundreds of police who were on standby for a victory had an easy night in Chapel Hill. The only signs of a party were a few strands of blue crepe paper left dangling from the trees.