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A Few Thoughts on the UNC Senior Class

With tonight’s game against Miami serving as Senior Night for Tar Heels Marcus Ginyard, Deon Thompson and Marc Campbell, I was prepared que up some Boys II Men (do I go with “End of the Road” or “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye”? Decisions, decisions) to write a post summarizing the careers of all three and what contributions they’ve given to the program, but it appears Tar Heel Fan has beaten me to the punch, and done so quite thoroughly and eloquently, so I’ll defer to him making points about each and add a few thoughts of my own.

On Deon Thompson:

Thompson, throughout his career, has always been flashes rather than a steady beam of light. There has always been an air of potential, a waiting for some breakout moment that turns Thompson into consistent contributor. Through three season, it never happened because (1) it really did not have to and (2) even if it did there were brighter lights on the stage than him which made whatever he did gravy.

Tar Heel Fan brings up several notable moments in Thompson’s career, including the regional final against Georgetown and last year’s game at Duke, where Deon rose to the occasion and delivered some big buckets for UNC. I might even add last year’s National Title game to that list, where Thompson had a nice game against a supposedly staunch MSU defense, but it’s hard to say anyone didn’t have a good game in that instance. I’ll echo THF’s thoughts that Thompson’s status as a participant in Team USA’s U19 team and his supposed flourishes during summer play may have ruined our expectations of him. Ultimately he seems to be the type of player who is great as a second option but never was able to take the leadership reigns this year. I mourn for him a bit more than Ginyard, who from my admittedly distant point of view seems to have checked out a bit this year, whereas Thompson seems to take the losses pretty hard judging by his post-game comments and body language that I’ve seen. He came into this year with big talk about making another run to the Final Four, but he’ll be left carrying the mantle of this failed season. I think it was always difficult for me to reconcile some of the really nice aspects of Thompson’s game, like that smooth turnaround jumper he showed so often, with his seeming reluctance to consistently assert himself on offense. Nonetheless, I think he played an important role in UNC’s championship season and we should remember him more as a player who overcame some early issues with weight and confidence and managed to turn himself into a nice secondary player.

On Marcus Ginyard:

Marcus Ginyard, on the other hand, is probably less notable than even Thompson. Like, Thompson, Ginyard was a role player who was labeled early and often as a defensive stopper. Like so many Tar Heels before him, Ginyard was that guy who did a little bit of everything on the court. He was not flashy or even something you noticed yet the box score comes out and there is Ginyard with eight points, six boards, three steals and a blocked shot. Ginyard did the little things and quite well by all accounts though the argument could be made(and proven in 2009) that Danny Green could do all those same things and was an offensive threat. Still, there was plenty to like about the way Ginyard played the game during his first three seasons and certainly the way he carried himself off the court as well. Then injury struck, robbing him of the chance to play on the 2009 title team. This is where I ultimately feel sorry for Ginyard. Instead of going out last season with the guys he showed up with and winning a title (setting aside the theory that Ginyard over Green may have created issues) he goes out with this abysmal season with his standing among fans somewhat damaged.

Alright, so I am going to go back on what I previously wrote just slightly and say that I do have some sympathy for Ginyard on this one. As a photographer on the sidelines last season, it was painfully obvious to me that Ginyard seemed ready to lapse into some serious depression watching the boys he came into school with not only survive without him, but thrive even more as Danny Green stepped into his starting spot. Ultimately he does go out with a ring on his finger but it’s probably more bittersweet than anything else. His career path mirrors Thompson’s in some ways because the first game of his that sticks out in my mind was the 2006 matchup against Illinois, where he showed some impressive offensive promise that never really matured into a full-blown skill set. But enough feeling sorry for the guy, because it’s still tough for me to watch him this year and not think that he’s thrown in the towel a bit early. As THF pointed out, we’ve probably been spoiled by someone like David Noel, who Ginyard was expected to mirror this year in leadership and statistical performance and managed not quite to do either.

On Marc Campbell:

Well, THF didn’t write anything about Campbell but at the very least he provided us with an occasionally entertaining twitter account. So… thanks for that, Marc!

All in all it’s a senior class that hasn’t exactly distinguished itself for the ages but was part of two Final Fours (and still have a chance at a third! right? who’s with me? anyone? anyone?…) and should be remembered for their contributions rather than their detractions. I hope that they are still able to salvage more good memories than bad from their careers. Any guy who was part of a team that added a banner to the Dean Dome rafters should be able to walk into Top of the Hill for the rest of his life and have somebody buy him a drink and offer up some of good memories of the player’s career. Rest assured that if I find myself in Chapel Hill and any of these guys show up, I’ll be more than ready to give them my graditude rather than my criticism. To this year’s senior class: thank you.