04/04/05 — Carolina hopeful

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Carolina hopeful

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on April 4, 2005 1:45 PM

Tonight’s national championship game will leave a lot of Wayne County residents feeling True Blue or truly blue.

The match between the UNC Tar Heels and the Illinois Fighting Illini has many UNC alumni and fans counting down to 9 p.m., hopeful they can celebrate another national title, like they did in 1957, 1982 and 1993.

No doubt, a few Duke and N.C. State fans hope they will see UNC fall in the title game, like they did in 1968, 1977 and 1981.

A handful of local fans have made their way to St. Louis, the site of tonight’s game.

Dickie Baddour, a Goldsboro native, is UNC’s athletic director and has often been spotted in the crowd during the NCAA tournament. His brother Phil, a Goldsboro lawyer, has joined him for the Final Four.

Then there’s Dr. George Mayo, a Goldsboro dentist who decided to make the 14-hour drive, each way, when he couldn’t get a plane ticket.

“Even before Carolina got this far, I inquired about getting an airline ticket in St. Louis, and that was impossible,” Mayo said via telephone this morning from the Gateway City.

His backup plan was to fly into Louisville, Ky., and then drive five hours, but he couldn’t find a direct flight from Raleigh-Durham. “You had to go to Cincinnati or Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Mayo believes he’s in select company.

“I saw one Tar Heel fan with a North Carolina tag on it about 200 miles outside of St. Louis. There’s not many here that have driven,” he said.

Mayo said he is surprised how many fans came to the Final Four without tickets. “It seems as if thousands of people have just flocked into the city to enjoy the excitement. I wouldn’t come if I didn’t have a ticket.

“We got a lot of diehard Tar Heel fans, there’s no question about that.”

Back home, some of those diehards are feeling confident.

“Carolina’s going to win it,” Goldsboro Councilman Jimmy Bryan said. “I’ve just got a feeling in my bones.”

Bryan said his wife has more superstitions about watching UNC games than he does. “She starts off wearing her UNC jewelry and if the game doesn’t start off well, she’ll start taking it off,” Bryan said.

After all, the right combination just might be what her beloved Tar Heels need to pull out a win.

As owner of Sportsman’s World, Bryan has another reason for wanting to see a title.

“We sell more Carolina basketball merchandise than Duke or State or any of them, and it sells even better when they’re winning,” he said. Should UNC win tonight, Sportsman’s World will have national championship T-shirts on sale tomorrow.

Bill Broadaway, a commercial loan officer with BB&T, called Illinois “a tough team, but I feel good about our chances.”

“I think we match up well with them in the front court. The trouble is the guards,” he said. The Illini have three — Dee Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams — who can be lights-out shooters.

“I have a feeling it could come down to a shot like Jordan hit against Georgetown,” Broadaway said.

That was the deciding bucket in UNC’s 1982 title, so that’s a good omen for the Tar Heels, right? “I hope so,” he said.

Special Counsel Attorney Laura Shivar has an interesting perspective on Carolina’s success: She graduated from Carolina, while her husband graduated from N.C. State.

“Coming from a split household, I am proud to say that my entire family is cheering for Carolina. My husband is an N.C. State grad, and my son is a freshman at State, but we’re all pulling for a North Carolina team to go all the way.

“I loved Carolina. I loved what Carolina did for me. I’ll say my special prayers tonight and pull for them.”

John Henderson, of Henderson-Crawford Insurance Co., is wearing a Tar Heel-pattern tie today to show his allegiance for tonight’s game.

“I’ve really been impressed with how they’ve turned their attitudes around and come together as a team,” Henderson said.

He plans to watch tonight’s game at home. “I’m somewhat of a purist. I don’t like to watch in crowds with people yelling. I’d rather be where I can focus more on the game.”

Tony Worrell, of Wayco Ham, said, “If they can play a whole game like they did the second half against Michigan State, they’re going to win.”

Tony and his wife, Sally, plan to kick-start Carolina’s karma by going to Chapel Hill tonight, as they did in 1982 and 1993. They will watch the game with friends and head to Franklin Street for the traditional victory celebration if UNC wins.

“We’ll probably watch for 30 minutes or so, take it all in,” Worrell said.

Of course, if UNC loses, some of these folks might not make it into work tomorrow. Call it the ‘Blue flu.’

The game will tip at 9:21 p.m. and be televised by CBS affiliates WRAL (Channel 5) and WNCT (Channel 9). Pre-game coverage begins at 8:30 on WRAL and 9 on WNCT.