North Carolina Teammate Fires Back At RJ Davis Critics

RJ Davis, North Carolina Tar Heels
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

RJ Davis, the standout basketball star for North Carolina, experienced a night he never anticipated.

Despite a stellar season where he earned the ACC Player of the Year title, his performance faltered at the most crucial juncture. The top-seeded Tar Heels suffered a heart-wrenching 89-87 defeat against No. 4 Alabama in the Sweet Sixteen of March Madness, largely due to Davis’ struggles on the court.

Davis, recognized as a first-team All-American, endured a challenging night shooting, going 4-of-20 from the field and 0-of-9 from beyond the arc. However, his teammate Cormac Ryan came to his defense during the post-game press conference, preventing Davis from spiraling into self-criticism.

“I’ve got to chime in here. You guys can write whatever you want about the game. You could talk about RJ, you could talk about the stats. You could talk about whatever. We would not be in this position without RJ Davis and Armando Bacot. Carolina wouldn’t be in this position without these two guys.”

The perennial debate in sports circles revolves around whether star players should bear the brunt of criticism for underperforming in critical games, despite their stellar regular-season contributions. Ryan vehemently dismissed any notion of blaming Davis, highlighting their remarkable consistency throughout the season.

Davis maintained an impressive average of 21.2 points per game on 42.8 percent shooting, while his teammate Armando Bacot consistently recorded double-doubles, guiding North Carolina to a conference title during the regular season.

Ryan’s defense of his teammate is commendable, yet it’s undeniable that this game will cast a shadow over Davis’ legacy. As a team leader, Davis naturally shoulders more responsibility, a burden that may seem unjust for a 22-year-old college student. However, the greatest players are often remembered for their performances in the most significant moments.

Despite the setback, Davis has etched his name in the annals of North Carolina basketball history. Notably, he surpassed Michael Jordan on the UNC all-time scoring list and boasts the second-highest free-throw percentage in Tar Heels history during NCAA Tournament play, according to GoHeels.com.

In essence, Ryan’s defense of Davis holds merit. Davis undoubtedly stands as one of the greatest players to don the North Carolina uniform, a remarkable achievement given the program’s storied history.

Nonetheless, his struggles against Alabama cannot be entirely overlooked, as he shares a portion of the responsibility for the team’s defeat.

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