5 April 2022
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill men’s basketball team and staff returned to Chapel Hill Tuesday afternoon after falling short in the national championship game, 72-69 to Kansas.
Hundreds of fans gathered at the Dean E. Smith Center on campus, headquarters of the Tar Heel basketball program, to welcome the team as they stepped off the buses. Although the team returned home without a trophy, fans said the the team was still champions.
“One thing you can say about Carolina — it’s really a family,” said UNC student Alyson Thompson.
After a late night that ended in defeat, the team departed their hotel in New Orleans just after 11 a.m., and their charter flight was in the air by 12:45 p.m. The flight touched down at RDU around 2:45 p.m.
Before heading home, head coach Huber Davis spokes to the assembled fans and media in New Orleans.
“On the court, off the court, in the classroom, I am just very, very proud of them,” he said.
Then, before entering the Dean E. Smith Center, Davis thanked fans for their support.
“I really wanted to just thank you guys for this entire season … the support you’ve given these guys, our program, this university, this coaching staff, myself, in my first year,” said Davis.
A UNC fan who watched the game at Top of the Hill told WRAL News, “It was very disappointing, but to see them make this run that they had, I don’t think a lot of people saw that in them, so to see where they could go and make it to the national championship — it was awesome.”
“They put up a great fight,” he added.
UNC fans said they were ‘so proud’ of Davis in his rookie season as head coach.
“I’m just excited about what they’ve got in store for the next few years,” said another fan who also watched the game at the Dean Smith Center.
A fan who watch Monday night’s game with thousands of others inside Smith Center on a big screen said he was “nothing more than proud of the boys.”
“We lost tonight, but at the end of the day, we won. At the end of the day, we beat Duke … we didn’t win the champion but at the end of the day, I feel like we won as a team,” the UNC fan said.