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April 7, 2009Approximately 8,000 to 9,000 people came to the Smith Center on Tuesday to welcome the North Carolina basketball team back to Chapel Hill from Detroit after the Tar Heels won the national championship on Monday by defeating Michigan State
Woody Durham, who does the radio broadcasts for the school, hosted the event. The players arrived in suits while wearing caps. Senior Bobby Frasor also brought along a basketball.
Coach Roy Williams brought along the national championship trophy and put it on display at the front of the podium.
This stirred the crowd to some of its loudest cheers, outside the introductions for players such as Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Tyler Hansbrough.
Williams talked about what a difficult year it had been with all the injuries Carolina has suffered, but he talked about how this team overcame the adversity and continued to get better until the end of the national championship game against Michigan State on Monday.
The Tar Heels were clearly a tight unit on the court, helping one another on defense and sharing the ball unselfishly at the offensive end.
Williams told the crowd how lucky he was to get to coach such a fine group of young men.
The crowd anxiously fidgeted in an effort to get photographs as Durham introduced the seniors and gave them a chance to address the crowd. The stands had been lined off in places, and getting a photograph was not easy.
Green had a big smile when he spoke, and he eventually did the dance that had become a tradition when he was coming off the bench his first three seasons. A teammate held his shirt as if he were a puppet, just as they used to do along the sideline.
Hansbrough gave a speech as he normally does: short and sweat.
The entire affair did not last very long, and the team marched off the stage and onto other business as the crowd applauded the Tar Heels for their championship season.
Three members of the team will have their jerseys hanging from the rafters. Lawson and Ellington (the most outstanding player at the Final Four) will have their jerseys hanging along the second or third row because of their accomplishments.
Hansbrough will be on the front row, probably beside Antawn Jamison, who was the last player to have his number retired after being named the consensus national player of the year.
Hansbrough earned the right to have his number retired when he was named the consensus national player of the year in 2008. He did not win the award this year, but he was named a first-team All-American, first-team All-ACC and he won the national championship in his final game as a Tar Heel, which was his ultimate dream.