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The Daily Tar Heel

Fickle Fans Running Forte Off

He should leave Chapel Hill behind for the professional ranks. North Carolina fans don't deserve to have him on their basketball team.

They don't want him, either.

Not since the Tar Heels exited the Big Dance in the second round. Not since he shot 3-for-13 from the floor against Penn State to tie a career-low six points. Not since he shot 8-for-26 in the NCAA tournament. Not since he shot a combined 11-for-36 in two humiliating losses to Duke. Not since he supposedly turned from a prince into a "ball hog" during the team's late-season collapse.

Now UNC fans hate the player and his game.

How incredibly fickle and spoiled.

Is he not the same Joseph Forte named co-ACC Player of the Year with the national player of the year?

Is he not the same Forte who led the Tar Heels to an 18-game winning streak and a No. 1 national ranking? This with a team with below-average expectations by Tar Heel standards that he carried to such heights after dealing with early-season criticism about a shooting slump.

Is he not the same Forte who averaged 20.9 points while Brendan Haywood was the team's second-biggest threat at 12.3 a game? Is he not the same shooting guard who hit 45 percent of his attempts from the field, 37.7 percent from 3-point range and 85.3 percent from the free-throw line?

Is he not the same Forte who led UNC with 67 steals while the next-craftiest teammate snatched 36? Is he not the same "selfish" Forte who was the team's second-best distributor with 3.5 assists a game and third-leading rebounder at 6.1 a contest?

Is he not the same Forte who scored 24 points and snagged 16 boards in the program's first win against Duke in three years? Is he not the same college sophomore who already has an almost eerie confidence, short of cockiness, that's contagious to his teammates and somewhat reminiscent of Michael Jordan?

Oh, and happy birthday by the way, Joseph. He turned 20 on Friday.

Is he not the same Forte who became the first Tar Heel freshman to lead his team in scoring? Is he not the same Forte who sank a double-clutch 3 to send his team into overtime against Duke as a freshman? Is he not the same Forte who helped lead that team to an unexpected Final Four?

But now he's Chapel Hill's favorite scapegoat, villified by the tongues on the street. They have themselves to blame for his recent shooting woes.

All the press and criticism about his taking more than his fair share of shots finally got to him. He took just 13 in each of his last two games, after which he admitted that all the talk had weighed on his game.

Now Forte's unhappy to be a Tar Heel and rightfully so. He's praised if he scores 30 points and the team wins but demonized if he scores 30 and the Tar Heels lose. So he gave the fans what they wanted and stopped "hogging" the ball. With that they also got a season-ending loss.

Who did they think was going to carry that offensive load? There's a reason defenders don't exactly freeze in fright at the sight of Kris Lang or Jason Capel with the rock.

So, the first thing I saw when I returned from spring break and stepped off the plane was the Nittany Lions' celebrating on an airport monitor in the moments after their upset win. The first thing I heard from fellow students after the loss: "Forte sucks. I hope he leaves for the NBA."

How soon they forget.

So go, Joseph. Go.

And take Jason Williams with you.

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Mike Ogle can be reached at

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