Carolina In My Mind

Ah the lyrics of the immortal James Taylor.  As most of you know, the Sports Dudes road tripped through North Carolina this past weekend.  We spent Saturday in Greensboro with one of our college buddies, the legendary Andrew Day.  On Sunday, we journeyed to Chapel Hill to witness the Tar Heels take on the Terps in what was a must-win game for the latter squad.  A fantastic time was had by all (except Kevin for obvious basketball related reasons).  Here follows my general thoughts and musings from the weekend:

Buz and Ned’s: Great BBQ is hard to find.

· Great food stop: Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue

Kevin and I stopped at this Richmond BBQ joint for lunch on Saturday.  I have visited Richmond many times and had never eaten at this fine establishment, so we decided to give it a shot.  I was pleasantly surprised.  We both had the pulled pork sandwich.  I thought the pork was excellent; great sauce, very tender meat.  The potato salad was also very good.  It was a little pricey (mine was around $14 for the meal and drink), but good BBQ is hard to come by, especially if you aren’t in an area famous for it (i.e. Kansas City).  I would certainly recommend it to anyone making a stop in the Richmond area.

· Franklin Street

For those of you who went to George Mason with us (or any other school that’s not in a “college town”), we were all robbed of the true college experience.  Franklin Street, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the University of North Carolina, is the main strip that sits just off campus.  It’s really not fair.  Bars and restaurants line the street and everything is Carolina blue.  It’s not really going to shock anyone who went to a similar college (i.e. Penn State), but for those of us who went to Mason or any similar institution, it really rubs it in your face that you didn’t get the “true college experience”.  I highly recommend Top of the Hill on Franklin Street for anyone visiting Chapel Hill.  It’s an excellent microbrewery with a sweet rooftop patio.

· Roy Williams’ bathroom

We got onto campus plenty early so we could wander around.  Right next to the Dean Dome is the natatorium and the Carolina Basketball Museum.  We walked around the side of the dome looking for a bathroom.  The natatorium was locked, but I hit a couple buttons outside the offices on the lower level of the dome and one of the doors popped open.  We walked in and just to our right appeared to be the UNC Basketball offices.  I commented on how I felt we probably shouldn’t be in there, but the door was unlocked and we really had to use the bathroom.  We all hit the head, which was extremely nice by the way, but were scolded by a woman on the way out.  “Who let you in?!” she demanded.  “Uh, the door was open,” I replied.  She hurried us out the door and back outside.  We came to the conclusion that we had just relieved ourselves in the bathroom of North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams.  If anyone has a better explanation, I would love to hear it.

· The Carolina Basketball Museum

In a word: awesome!  For anyone who is a fan of the team, it’s a must see.  But even if you aren’t a fan, and I think Kevin can attest to this, it’s really a site to see.  The amount of history there is staggering.  There’s an awesome highlight video at the beginning, lots of information about the team’s history and tons of memorabilia, including all five national championship trophies.  I definitely recommend a stop here if you are attending a game at the Dean Dome.

Want to see how big Eric Montross’ shoes were?  Take a walk through the Carolina Basketball Museum.*

· Player sightings

After taking in the museum, we sat outside in the beautiful Carolina weather for a few hours.  We were sandwiched right between the Dean Dome, the natatorium and the museum.  After about 30 minutes, I turned around and noticed half a dozen young kids in suits walking through the parking lot to a dorm building.  Among there were PF John Henson, SG Leslie McDonald and SG Dexter Strickland, all key contributors to the Tar Heel basketball team.  It was cool to see them out and about.  Then a camera started following them and some idiots ran over to ask for pictures and autographs.  Come on man, leave the kids alone.  It’s gameday.

Minutes later, Kevin elbows me in the ribs.  I look up and five feet from us is Harrison Barnes, UNC freshman and the #1 recruit in the nation from this year’s NCAA freshmen class.  He walked right by, headphones bumping, up towards the same dorm building.  He’s about halfway when some idiot screams, “Dats Harrison Barnes!  Come on y’all dat’s Harrison Barnes!”  A half-dozen people swarm the poor kid who is lugging multiple boxes up to the dorms.  He’s far too nice and grants them the pictures and autographs they demand.  Props to the kid, he’s a class act.

Is it weird that I still find it cool to spot these athletes in public?  Maybe.  But I’ll never be the idiot running after them.  I wouldn’t want someone harassing me hours before a game, and I’ll extend them the same courtesy.

· The game

I’m not going to bother going into much detail here as you could have seen pretty much everything we saw on TV.  There were however a few cool things to behold.  Once get got through the gates, about an hour and a half before game time, Kevin, Day and I walked through an unmanned entrance to the lower level and went down as far as we could.  Kevin stood and watched the Terps warm up and then showered them with encouragement as they ran back into the locker room.  I stood at mid-court, two rows up, taking in the Carolina warm ups.  It was really cool to see the players this close up.  Props to the Dean Dome administration for allowing fans to get this close before tipoff.  I even caught a glimpse of former Dookie Mike Gminski who was the TV analyst for the game.  Nice earring G-Man, go back to Durham.

Mike Gminski, despite his Dook ties, managed to spend two hours in the Dean Dome without flopping.

· Southern women

Good God.  It’s not really about the quality as much as the quantity.  They’re everywhere.  I’d say the ratio is at least 50% down there which is substantially higher than the more northern states I have inhabited during my lifetime.  Perfect example, Kevin stopped to grab some BBQ at the game (yes, more BBQ).  Serving him his food was not an (insert random disgusting guy here), but a smoking hot young girl.  It’s the little things like this that make the difference.

· Bojangles’

Before hitting the road after the game, Kevin and I made a stop at Bojangles‘.  It was the maiden voyage for both of us and we were both impressed.  The chicken was good, but for me it was really the fries and biscuits that made the difference.  I know Kevin will never utter this sentence, but in my book, it beats Popeyes’.  I’ve heard people in the South hype this place for years, and in my book, the hype was warranted.  Highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the South.  Oh and they are everywhere, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one.

*Photograph by: Andrew Day (www.andrewdayphotography.com)

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One Response to Carolina In My Mind

  1. Sounds like an awesome trip. By the way, if you’re ever in Chapel Hill again, try Spanky’s restaurant which is right across the street from Top of the Hill. Excellent burgers…

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