More on the Kenny Smith Return in 1984

I missed this on Tuesday but Adam Lucas addresses it in his mailbag column at Tar Heel Blue.

Responding to key injuries is kind of an open-ended question, but I thought this might be a good chance to look into the 1984 Kenny Smith injury, because it seems to have the most relevance to the current Ty Lawson situation.

Some background for those of you who don’t remember: the 1984 Tar Heels were a juggernaut. They won their first 17 games by an average of 17.4 points per game. But in the 17th game, something happened–LSU’s John Tudor committed a vicious breakaway foul on starting point guard Kenny Smith. Smith, a freshman, was the perfect pilot for a team that also included Brad Daugherty, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, and Matt Doherty. Smith suffered a broken wrist because of the foul and missed the next eight games (counting the FSU game, Lawson has currently missed seven games).

The Tar Heels didn’t exactly struggle without Smith; they still won seven of the eight games he missed, with the only blemish a one-point loss at Arkansas. Sophomore Steve Hale stepped into the starting point guard role and handed out 50 assists in Smith’s absence (6.25 per game; Thomas has 46 over seven games, or 6.57 per game).

But when Kenny Smith returned in the penultimate regular season game against Georgia Tech–and Dean Smith has gone on record as saying he probably brought his point guard back too early–the Carolina offense slowed down. A team that had been averaging 80.8 points per game through the first 25 contests averaged just 77.2 points over the final six games, and that included a double-overtime contest against Duke (in regulation, Carolina averaged 73.3 points per game after Smith’s return). That’s a drop of almost 10 percent.

In those six games after Smith’s return, the Tar Heels shot 50.4 percent from the field. Pretty good, right? Yes, except that this was a team that shot 54.3% from the field for the entire season. Meanwhile, opponents made 47.7% of their field goals after making just 45 percent for the entire season. Hale was less efficient after returning to a reserve role, and his 3.33 A:TO ratio in Smith’s absence dipped to 1.72 after Smith’s return.

What does it all mean? That it’s not always easy to plug a player back into a team playing well. The Tar Heels got just two regular season games and two ACC Tournament games with Smith back in the rotation before jumping into NCAA play–and the field was smaller in those days, so the team didn’t get a potentially easy first-round warmup opportunity. It’s also worth noting that from Smith’s return to the end of the 1984 season against Indiana was just 22 days. That’s almost exactly the same amount of time between now and the end of the ACC Tournament, which means this year’s squad will have much more time to blend Lawson.

Roy Williams mentioned something similar on his radio show Monday night, as he first pointed out that Smith was playing with a cast that was slowly being removed. The head coach then compared Lawson’s absence to the Rashad McCants illness of 2005. As Tar Heel fans remember, McCants missed four games and then tried to return in the ACC Tournament, where Carolina did not play very well. But after they were able to practice with him for a full week before the NCAA Tournament, the old chemistry returned and the quality of play improved dramatically.

The disturbing aspect of this situation with Smith was how badly Steve Hale played when he returned to a reserve role which is something alluded to last week by J.P. Giglio at ACC Now as it relates to QT’s play. The upside is Roy was there in 1984 and obviously there in 2005 with McCants so he is not inexperienced when it comes to working through the adjustment period to a injured player coming back.

And speaking of Kenny Smith, Inside Carolina as a nice sit down interview with the The Jet and check out this video of highlights from his UNC days:

I had forgotten what incredible speed and leaping ability Smith had and it also reminded me that I met Smith once at a basketball camp, at the time he was one of my favorite UNC players and still is.


48 Responses to More on the Kenny Smith Return in 1984

  1. Josh Bowling says:

    Man, he could run the offense while being the offense. Good clips for a young Dexter Strickland and Kendall Marshall to look at.

  2. william says:

    Kenny never made it to the Final Four or won an ACC tourney with Carolina, which is probably why he is not remembered as being of the caliber of Phil Ford, which he definitely was. Ford was an All-American twice and player of the year and I am not sure whether Smith ever made First or Second team All-American.

    On the other hand, Kenny Smith’s teams’ won more and were more consistent than Ford’s. Also, I think there were probably more excellent guards nationally during Kenny Smith’s time than when Ford was playing, with Chris Mullins, Pearl Washington, Johnny Dawkins, Muggsy Bogues and Mark Price all being contemporaries of his.

    Nevertheless, Kenny Smith had an excellent pro career, although not quite All Star caliber and won a couple of titles with Houston. I still remember when they announced he had decided not to go to UVa and instead come to Carolina and John Kilgo told his listeners that Kenny Smith was “a Jimmy Black who could score.” Well said for a great collegian and pro and one of the smoothest, coolest Carolina players ever.

  3. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    Wow – I forgot about that team. Brad Daugherty, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty and Kenny Smith. Four of them went onto to become NBA All-stars, if not Hall of Famers. Help my aging memory – who did UNC lose to in the NCAAs and how was that possible?

  4. william says:


  5. Wilson says:

    Damn Indiana’s interim coach.

  6. william says:

    That was my &*% freshman year.

    Jordan had foul trouble as I recall and Smith may have been too conservative in letting him sit on the bench while the minutes were going by. Carolina made one of its mad comebacks cutting the deficit from double figures down to two in the last couple of minutes but Indiana made free throws to hold on. Indiana’s new coach Dan Backitch got a lot of credit for playing tough defense on Jordan, although it’s not clear whether it was deserved. I think Jordan mostly just had a Shammond Williams kind of night.

    Remember there was no shot clock or three point shot back then and Indiana was playing very deliberately and Carolina got impatient and refused to let the game come to them. I am not that big on second guessing coaching decisions, but that may be the game, along with the USC game in 1971, that Smith received the most criticism for his decisions.

    Smith generally got the best of Coach K, but if there were two coaches that were either equal or got the best of Smith, it was probably Bobby Knight and Norm Sloan.

    Maybe we should include Frank McGuire also, who had a pretty good head to head record against his protege, beating him four of the last five in the ACC, including in the 1971 ACC finals, but then losing to UNC in the 1972 Eastern Regional after USC became an Independent. People today think USC was crazy to go independent, but believe it or not, the decision seemed much less loopy then than it does now, as Notre Dame, and Marquette were basically guaranteed NCAA tournament spots every year and USC got several independent bids as well, but eventually the lack of rivals seems to have finally hurt their USC pipeline.

    Frank McGuire claimed he opposed the move, but that it was due to football being unable to recruit under the ACC’s high SAT standards compared to the SEC, where you got in if you could spell SAT.

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I remember Daddy telling me(since I was nine and could not stay up and watch the game) that Dean waited too long to bring Jordan back in.

  8. 52BigGameJames says:

    the only coach I consider to have gotten the best of Dean was Rollie Massimino. And Frank didn’t beat Dean in the 71 finals–Dean beat Dean in that one.

  9. Josh Bowling says:

    THF, I thought I was the youngest on this site @ 34.

  10. william says:

    James, I think you doth protest too much, lol.

    I think you are talking about strictly coaching decisions, I am being broader in the sense of taking Dean to the woodshed a bit, like the loathesome Bobby Knight beating great Carolina teams in 1981 and 1984 and denying us titles in those years (although I still don’t know if we would have beaten Georgetown in 1984). McGuire went undefeated in 1970 in conference and then beat Carolina 2 out of 3 in 1971 and basically went out triumphant, although South Carolina would only have 3 more years going to the NCAA under his leadership.

    Sloan beat el Deano 9 times in a row in the early 70’s and Bubus was another who had a similar run, although I only go back to the 1974 team in terms of watching.

    I have been trying to find the records, but Bubas may be the only coach with 10 decisions or more to have a winning record against Smith. McGuire won five of the last 8, including the 1972 Eastern Regional win by Dean, but it took him a few years to get USC rolling and Dean probably still has the edge, although I think they faced off under 15 times. Obviously, I am a big fan of all our coaches but Williams and McGuire are fascinating to me due to their having come from brokenhomes/poverty and having made good.

    Here’s an interesting McGuire/Williams factoid: Both of them made it to the Final Four with two different teams, McGuire with St. John’s and UNC, and Williams with Kansas and UNC, and both of them held the number one ranking at two different schools, McGuire at UNC and USC and Williams at Kansas and UNC.

  11. 52BigGameJames says:

    wow-what a great point william (broken homes)–I think if you dug into Miller’s background you’d find the same. McGuire always reminded me of the police captain that Michael killed in The Godfather, lol. My counter would be that those periods you referenced (Thompson & Roach-yes Roach) years, Dean was outmanned, so really more of a recruiting issue, than coaching. Dean arguably did his best numbers coaching-wise when he was out-gunned.

    NCSU has blown another it looks like.

  12. 52BigGameJames says:

    State’s 3/2 zone was very effective against Duke today (wink/wink-Roy!)

  13. 52BigGameJames says:

    In fact, the case might be made that in one of those those Roach-motel years, USC actually underachieved, given their talent.

  14. william says:

    Well, they were definitely not getting out far enough the last ten minutes. That felt like a kick in the stomach. State makes all its free throws until the end and then starts bonking them. Only State or Clemson could have blown this one. Just pathetic in the last few minutes and what was Lowe doing at the end, with 3 seconds left…. Very sad.

  15. 52BigGameJames says:

    I was being serious–they had to basically go man the last minute when they were down. I think a 3/2 is the way to go vs duke.

  16. 52BigGameJames says:

    even my wife noted that Sid should’ve called the TO.

  17. william says:

    The 1970 Gamecocks went 14-0 in conference and 16-1 over-all, losing in double overtime to NC State who stalled. I think they were 25-2 overall.

    I guess if getting upset in a big game equals underperforming, then you are right and you would have to say the same thing about the 1976 Heels and the 1984 Heels and the 1987 Heels and so on.

    The 1971 Gamecocks may be more what you are referring to, as they lost their first game in the NCAA’s and finished second in the regular season to Carolina, although they beat them two out of three. You do have to remember that for two years straight everybody in the conference stalled over and over against USC, apparently resigned to the fact that they could not compete straight up and the stalls were highly effective.

    I see it a little differently. To me, underperforming is like the 1981 Terps who were supposed to win the conference easily and didn’t come close, or maybe the 1979-81 Blue Devils who were supposed to win the NCAA title all three years and never came close.

    I never saw the Gamecocks so it is impossible for me to comment about the talent comparison except by history and which players did well in the ABA/NBA, but Carolina had Charlie Scott in 1970 and Lee Dedmon, Bill Chamberlain, George Karl and Dennis Wuycik in 1971, along with role players, Kim Huband, Steve Previs and poor Dave Chadwick, who botched the jump ball defense against Owens, so it is not exactly as though Carolina did not have any good talent.

    My understanding is that our 1971 team was similar to Roy’s 2006 team, talented but very young, while USC was more like Duke that year with the bigger names like Kevin Joyce, John Roche and Tom Owens. One of our neighbors growing up, Bobby Carver was also on USC but I think he was a key reserve.

    Another thing that I have read is that around this period ACC teams were beginning to realize that they did not actually have any real chance of winning a national title. South Carolina might have been the second best team in the country in 1970, but as good as Tom Owens was, I don’t think he was a match for Sydney Wicks and the other Bruins.

    UCLA was so loaded during the early 70’s that their reserve center Swen Nater was a number one draft pick and I believe won rookie of the year in one of the leagues and he never even played much at UCLA. Dave Meyers and Marques Johnson had to wait a long time to get many minutes at UCLA as well. It was interesting because kids wouldn’t put up with that today.

    I think Duke and Carolina’s experience of thinking that they had excellent teams in the Finals against UCLA and then both of them just got slaughtered really had an effect on the league mentality and winning the ACC tourney became really the be-all and end-all until NC State proved that it was possible if you had two of the best five players in the country and a good supporting cast. 1974 was the key year in making the ACC what it is today and there were so many great games that year between UCLA, State, Maryland and Notre Dame that I remember vividly.

  18. 52BigGameJames says:

    surely you’re not saying USC lost just to avoid a route w/the Bruins, lol? Roach got POY over Scott (debatable) so that one’s a wash. Heels did have talent as you pointed out but I believe the National press had USC tagged as the premature runner-up to UCLA–almost similar in stature to the Elmore/McMillan/Lucas teams. And again, if you’re going to drag the college/pro continuum into it, then you may as well go ahead & say Scott and Roche were wash-outs as neither had more than marginal success in the pros…certainly nowhere near BC’s acheivemnts.

  19. william says:

    About the recruiting, James, you have a good point. Dean says in his book that he didn’t win any battles against McGuire until the mid to late 70’s, but there were a lot more good North Carolinians to recruit back then than now for some reason, so I think he could recruit instate instead of NYC. Smith says that he lost out on Owens, Roche, Joyce and Winters, but that he did get Eddie Fogler from that area and some other guy I can’t remember, who never ended up playing but became an MD, which to Smith was just as good, although Roche is a pretty successful lawyer….

    In terms of your mafia reference, you are exactly right. He even looked a little bit like that police captain that M.C. guns down. When McGuire played in MSG, he requested tickets on 2 opposite sides of the arena to distribute and when Smith asked him why, McGuire said that it was because all his friends were either cops or um … not cops, if you will and that he couldn’t seat them together….

    He was a living legend and the stories about his generosity are many. Another one I loved was that he was friends with Billy Cunningham’s father, who was a firefighter. I think Billy was hoping o stay in NY to play, but one night Cunningham’s father called him in and said, “Billy, great news, you are going to play down in North Carolina for Uncle Frank.” Cunningham later said that that was the first that he had heard about it and the last that was said about it–he clearly had no say in the matter, and he went on to have his great career in Chapel Hill.

  20. 52BigGameJames says:

    great stories william! thanks for sharing. my great-uncle told me that McGuire used to have dinner at Case’s house before games in Raleigh, then they would go on court and assume “mortal-enemy” roles for the benefit of the rivalry. Dean had the utmost respect for Frank, and thats good enough for me. I hated those SC teams as much or more than many hate Dook now. There was a story in SI one time about Roche going into an ice-cream parlor in Columbia and roughing up the proprietor. He was a bastard who deserved all of the bad press and fan animosity that was generously thrown at him. and just like a Dookie, he wants peeps to feel sorry for him now.

  21. william says:

    You know, that is a good point, James. I am convinced that Hoya Paranoia was all just a marketing scheme, a brilliant one, by John Thompson to make Georgetown the team of African-Americans all over the country, the way that rich Northeasterners all root for Duke.

    McGuire may have been doing the us against them routine to get South Carolinians interested in basketball, as they were and are, always a football state. Let’s face it, he took a team with no history and made them famous (infamous) throughout the mid-Atlantic. In a lot of ways, those were some really fun, outlaw kind of days, with the wrestlingesque fight between Ribock and Lefty and all.

  22. 52BigGameJames says:

    here ya go william–thank me later…

    be sure to read page 9 and tell me that you don’t think Roche is the most despicable character to ever play in the ACC. He states basically that he is beyond re-living the past–I say he has the paranoid profile of a man haunted, and ashamed of his past. How can anyone celebrate the career (no matter how stellar) of someone like that? A sad story imo–“Greek-tragedy” if ever there was one.

    great photo’s!

  23. william says:

    I posted those links yesterday, lol. Those are amazing articles!

  24. 52BigGameJames says:

    oops-my bad–sorry!

  25. william says:

    I, however, saw the tragedy more from the point of a great athlete and excellent scholar who has been a success in life by American standards in almost every way, who did some outrageous things when he was 22 years old, but who still does not have the piece of mind yet to fully deal with that part of his life even at middle age.

    I am with you in the sense that I found that team and those players and coaches to be one of the most intriguing in the history of college sports.

    I went to Barnes and Noble tonight and they had one of those coffee table type books about Maryland Basketball and it had a long section on the rivalry between Maryland and USC and the Lefty-Ribock fight and the rematch in 1971 where it was 4-3 at halftime at College Park with Maryland winning 31-30, a couple of days after the upset in Chapel Hill, 79-64. Like you said, they apparently were far more hated than Lefty or Duke or Carolina ever were. (For some reason Sloan and Valvano never seemed particularly hated in spite of winning titles). Obviously, McGuire already had ongoing rivalries and I don’t think he minded being the villain.

    I was thinking about what you said about his relationship with Smith and Smith said that if Carolina could not win in 1971, he was glad for McGuire, whose team clearly was deserving the year before and lost on a fluke, similar to what UNC experienced in 1976. Thus, in spite of the fan intensity, apparently Smith and McGuire never had a falling out like Knight and K, in spite of the following similarities:

    Both McGuire and Knight would ultimately be eclipsed by assistant coaches who took over their jobs and who would ultimately win more games (unless K retires) and more/as many titles. Nevertheless, McGuire and Knight would share a record of 32-0 for most wins in a season that neither Smith nor K would come particularly close to breaking, although K may have saved both men’s record in 1992–so we did get something out of Duke’s title that year.

    Norm Sloan would come close to another McGuire record, that of most victories in a row by an ACC squad but fell just short when State got crushed by UCLA in St. Louis in December 1973.

  26. 52BigGameJames says:

    If professional refuge in the legal profession can be deemed a success, then I agree 🙂
    When compared to the rich UNC legacy of Dean Smith, and the Family atmosphere he’s engendered, the Roche story at USC bespeaks tragedy. But an interesting chapter nonetheless. I guess the ACC history would be pretty boring without such outlaws.

    I think K’s relationship with Knight can be easily explained in K feeling insecure (at that time) about establishing his place among the Elite. Knight obviously isn’t the most secure man in the world, and understandably took offense to Mike’s “slight” of his mentor. I can’t imagine Coach Smith acting out either side of that, which in mind mind further cements the man’s legend.

    Witness the Patriots evolution to answer the question of how one comes to be hated–one title does not a demon make.

  27. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Anyone catch K talking so glowingly about Knight today? No big deal except he calls his friendship a “lifelong one,” Well not according to John Feinstein. According to Feinstein Knight and K did not speak for about ten years after Duke beat Indiana in the 1992 Final Four. Something about Knight thinking, in his mind, that K disrespected him by beating him, at least that is what Feinstein said in a recent interview.

  28. 52BigGameJames says:

    I think it also had to do with Mike being quoted in an interview about “being his own man”, with the implication that he was solely responsible for his own success. Remember when Bob came down to CH to play a few rounds with Dean, and cry on his shoulder? I take K at his word today, but in my mind both Knight and K, while being HOF coaches, pale in comparison to Dean and Roy in the character HOF.

  29. william says:

    You had to love some of the things you saw in the 60’s and 70’s that we don’t have today, for example: Bones McKinney and Lefty Driesell were two of the most interesting coaching personalities ever, and to boot, neither coached his alma mater, which became a big conference rival, UNC for McKinney and Duke for Lefty.

    I think the relative level of coaches was just as good or better back than than now. You had Smith, McGuire and Sloan, all who would win titles; you had Terry Holland and Vic Bubas and Bill Foster, all of whom made it to the Final Four; you had Lefty who did everything but make it to the Final Four; Carl Taacy was at the tail end but still took the Deacons to the Final 8, twice, I believe, farther than Tim Duncan could; you had Press Maravich, Tates Locke and Bill Foster at Clemson, where Locke probably had the best Clemson teams ever back with Tree Rollins and Skip Wise and Foster had less success there but had built the UNCC program from nothing, leaving the year before the went to the Final Four.

    The amazing thing to me is the why that Dean buried all his rivals. Partially, it was on the court, but that came in the overwhelming sense only after 1975. Dean was simply so good at, I won’t say manipulating the media, because that has a negative connotation, but he made it difficult for his rivals to feel comfortable in the conference, even when they were either outdoing him or at least performing equally. Coach K was essentially the only one with the will to go head to head with Smith, not counting Valvano and Lefty, who had unfortunate demises.

    For example:

    Vic Bubas had a winning record against Smith and equal or better success in the 60’s but then retires unexpectedly at a very young age in 1970.

    Frank McGuire beats Smith four out of five, going undefeated in conference in 1970 and winning the ACC tourney and achieving the number one ranking in 1971, but his team left the conference at the end of the year.

    Norm Sloan beats Smith 9 times in a row and wins 57 out of 58 games and wins the greatest NCAA title since 1957 after going undefeated in conference two years straignt and winning two tournaments in a row, during a period when Smith had never done any of these things, except win consecutive tourney titles. And yet, Sloan was gone within four years of his amazing title run.

    Bill Foster at Duke, has a period from 1977 to 1980 where his teams are either equal to, or exceed, Smith’s teams on the court depending on your point of view, going to the Finals and the Final 8 during this period and yet by 1981, he has gone to USC to languish in despair for a handful of years.

    Terry Holland never quite equalled Smith on the court, but did have pretty good success against Carolina, tormenting them with mediocre Cav teams in 1976 and 1977 and then taking 3-6 against the incredibly talented UNC finalists from 1981 and 1982. Granted, Smith won the bigger games in 1981 and 1982, but Holland’s upset in 1976 ruined Ford’s greatest team, which thought it might be able to compete with Indiana. In 1984, when Carolina flamed out, Holland went to the Final Four and almost the finals, with a very mediocre Cav team. Holland would then quit just a couple of years later.

    Carl Taacy filled this bill to a lesser extent, going to the Final 8 twice and dropping huge defeats on Carolina in 1978 in the ACC tourney and in 1982 against the eventual national champs and like UVa, going further than Carolina in 1984 and yet, he too would be gone in a couple of years, citing burn-out.

    Only K was able to avoid scandal, burn-out or general exasperation, among those coaches who were able to compete at least fairly equally with Smith. Nevertheless, Smith, who at one time had close to an equal record versus K, finished up from 1993 through 1997 on a big streak and ended up with an 11 victory margin, overall, I believe, and for once things when the other way. Duke’s program although certainly already excellent, when into the stratosphere when Smith retired and it has only been the return of Roy Williams to some extent, that has brought Duke back down to earth.

    So what was it about Dean? Obviously talent and hardwork were the most important factors, but it seems that many of his peers just couldn’t stand Smith or abide his presence, and ended up fleeing the competition to what appeared to be greener pastures.

  30. 52BigGameJames says:

    interesting subject and good points, especially about Tacy (one of my favs) who often gets overlooked in the coaching discussion. Two of the ones you referenced did something similar to what Dean did at UNC which I think is necessary to having that longevity. K, and to a much lesser extent Holland, both built tradition, and sense of Family at their schools. Even with what K has done at Duke, it still doesn’t match what Dean and Roy have done at UNC. Case did it at State in the 50’s and of course the Wizard at UCLA in the 60/70’s, but I don’t think anyone has ever done it to the extent Dean did at UNC. That’s IMO the only way you compete with that in the long term. Anything short is just a brief run at excellence. Pitino and Cal are perfect examples of the flip side.

  31. 52BigGameJames says:

    I think it also explains in part the “hate” for UNC. How can you not be jealous of that unique sense of Family? It’s really grudging admiration.

  32. william says:

    In Personal Fouls, that book about Valvano, many of the State players said that once they graduated, that was basically it for them at State, in terms of getting help and they said they had heard that former Carolina players can call at any time and have Dean Smith return their calls and try to help them….

  33. william says:

    Norm Sloan was the mystery to me. I never understood why he left, after winning ACC tourneys in 1970, 1972 and 1973, all in spectacular fashion and having pulled off the signature college basketball achievement of the 60’s and 70’s by dethroning the greatest team of all time. It was as though he didn’t understand what he had. I sort of understand Pitino giving the pro’s a shot, but for a Case guy like Sloan to go back to Florida which had no basketball tradition at that time seemed to make no sense and still doesn’t. Maybe he wanted to golf year round.

    As a kid, I was always a Carolina fan and I don’t know why because my dad rooted for Virginia and NC State, but I always rooted for Sloans’ teams in the play-offs since Carolina was down those years in 1973 and 74, which were the first two years I watched basketball.

    I don’t remember Carolina people hating State as much as being sick of losing to them for 3 years straight and you had to love State’s game, which was so much fun to watch, having both the tallest and the shortest starters in the conference and the incredible pogo-stick come to life, David Thompson. Towe shot his free throws while barely touching the ball and State followed these guys with the entertaining group of guys like Kenny Carr and Clyde the Glide Austin, If I remember correctly, Sloan’s last recruiting class ended up being core of the 1983 title team. He must have really felt that if I have to play second-fiddle to Smith after what I achieved, there is no hope, lol.

    I don’t think that there has ever been a better or more entertaining team in the ACC than the 1974 Wolfpack, unless it was the 1974 Terrapins.

  34. william says:

    Norm Sloan was the mystery to me. I never understood why he left, after winning ACC tourneys in 1970, 1972 and 1973, all in spectacular fashion and having pulled off the signature college basketball achievement of the 60’s and 70’s by dethroning the greatest team of all time. It was as though he didn’t understand what he had. I sort of understand Pitino giving the pro’s a shot, but for a Case guy like Sloan to go back to Florida which had no basketball tradition at that time seemed to make no sense and still doesn’t. Maybe he wanted to golf year round.

    As a kid, I was always a Carolina fan and I don’t know why because my dad rooted for Virginia and NC State, but I always rooted for Sloans’ teams in the play-offs since Carolina was down those years in 1973 and 74, which were the first two years I watched basketball.

    I don’t remember Carolina people hating State as much as being sick of losing to them for 3 years straight and you had to love State’s game, which was so much fun to watch, having both the tallest and the shortest starters in the conference and the incredible pogo-stick come to life, David Thompson. Towe shot his free throws while barely touching the ball and State followed these guys with the entertaining group of guys like Kenny Carr and Clyde the Glide Austin, If I remember correctly, Sloan’s last recruiting class ended up being core of the 1983 title team. He must have really felt that if I have to play second-fiddle to Smith after what I achieved, there is no hope, lol.

    I don’t think that there has ever been a better or more entertaining team in the ACC than the 1974 Wolfpack, unless it was the 1974 Terrapins.

  35. 52BigGameJames says:

    have to agree with all of that–it was hard not to like that team, and you could sense they liked each other, and knocking off the Bruins, (with one of the greatest college centers of all-time imo) was a feat you can’t fully appreciate unless you had that historical perspective.

    It all started unraveling for Sloan during the Walker years. One of my class-mates (D. Ewing) played on those teams briefly, and transferred to Stetson when the s hit the fan. I’ll always believe a good and patient coach could’ve made a really decent wg out of him.

    Sloan was a really good coach and recruiter, but he could be an ornery dude. Some buds and me used to sneak into Carmichael gym to play pick-up, and we would always go watch the featured pick-up game on the main court (saw Ted Brown play there one time and he was good!). One time several of the State players happened to be playing, and Sloan was there too—he turns to us and says “can you believe these guys play Varsity ball”? We were a little dumbfounded that a D-1 coach would be soliciting our opinion on his players, but seriously, that tells you a lot about his temperament.

    I grew up literally surrounded by Pack fans, but the Leftwich/Williford team, and those Thompson/Towe/Burleson teams were times that I embraced the dark-side.

  36. william says:

    My father used to host teams in Charlotte for the Chamber and Dana Kirk told him that there was no way his Memphis team could beat Carolina back in 1982–true–but still, why tell people that?

  37. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Sloan left over a dispute with the AD. Apparently, NCSU did things did like they do now, really poorly on the administration end.

  38. william says:

    That is why I find all of the venom and hatred over at Statefans to be ridiculous. There were a lot of diehard Carolina fans who were rooting for State in both 1974 and 1983. I understand that it is a little easier to deign to root for a rival when a team like Carolina is so successful, but a lot of the State mutterings are really over the top.

    I thinking about Hoya paranoia and I believe that was the last time I actually pulled for Duke, back in 1989 when they upset Georgetown and Alonzo in the Regionals, but that was sort of a Stalin vs. Hitler situation and now I probably regret my decision, but I loved watching those 1974 State and Maryland teams.

    Even after Maryland hosed us in the ACC semi’s, you just had to be impressed with their game and how well they played. State only lost to UCLA that year and Maryland only lost to State (three times), at Chapel Hill and against UCLA. If McAdoo had not gone pro, I have to think that Carolina would have gotten the bid in 1973, that Maryland got, but Maryland was much better in 1974, while State seemed to be about the same.

  39. william says:

    He wasn’t fired, though. I guess you are saying it peeved him enough to leave, sort of like Al Bohl at Kansas with Roy?

  40. 52BigGameJames says:

    Willis Casey
    –my GU (great-uncle) said the running joke on WC was that an aspiring football player at State was quoted: “I’ve been trying to make the f’ball team at State for the last 3 years…Casey’s wife did it in one season”. Might be a little racy THF–feel free to edit!

    You’re preaching to the choir on “State-hate”. Been like that as far as I can remember, but a history prof I had at State (Jerry Cashion–who had taught at UNC too) said there was a historical precedent that pre-dated any hoops rivalry, traced back to the days when hwy 54 was a footpath between Raleigh and CH. CH has ALWAYS had the bullseye because of it’s progressive leanings, and perceived arrogance.

    I bet you met some neat players/coaches during your Dads tenure at the Chamber.

  41. william says:

    It was mostly Davidson and UNCC opponents, and I think the old North-South, which was a lot of fun, but the bonus from his point of view was that he got to do the post-season. I think his favorite coach he worked with was Jon Chaney, believe it or not. I remember him talking about Dana Kirk. His least favorite was Bill Frieder of Michigan, as I recall, whom Carolina tormented, unlike his successor who played us pretty equal.

  42. 52BigGameJames says:

    doesn’t surprise me–I liked Chaney a lot-class act imo.

  43. william says:

    i think he did it up through 1994 so that he could work on the Final Four, which was supposed to feature the Tar Heels but instead had Arkansas and a team which shall remain nameless. Boy, those Arkansans did not make a good impression, “pig sooweee!” Clinton had the finals rigged which was the only decent thing he ever did.

  44. william says:

    They should bring back the North-South, with NC State and GIT and Clemson. Those were really great and unique events, even in the later years when they no longer featured conference games and had, I believe, Furman and the Citadel. Carolina actually did lose one year to Furman, I believe, back when Furman was the Davison of the Southern Conference.

  45. 52BigGameJames says:

    well, the Big Ten/ACC challenge hasn’t exactly fulfilled expectations, but I doubt they’ll give up the TV $.
    I love some of the old B & W photo’s of the Old Dixie Classic, with guys on the back stoop of the Memorial Auditorium sipping Cokes between games. Big O…Jumpin Johnny Green…come on down, we’ll show you how to play!`

  46. william says:

    By the way, I checked the lifetime records of ACC coaches versus Smith(McGuire was not included because USC is no longer in the conference I guess, but Smith clearly had a winning record against him, but maybe more in the Holland range).

    Terry Holland and Coach K were the most successful against Smith with at least 20 decisions. Bubas was 12-8 against Smith, Holland was 10-18 against Smith (4-6 during the Sampson era). Cliff Foster was 4-17. Carl Tacy was 10-29. Bobby Cremons was 10-28. Valvano was 7-18. K was 14-24(or 26), losing his last 9(or 11). Rick Barnes for all the NCSU bellowing about how he competed with Smith, was 1-8. Jeff Jones was 4-14. Les Robinson was 5-7, but it was a very strange 5 of 7 including several monster blow-outs by the Heels. Pat Kennedy was 4-10, but last his last 9. Norman Sloan was 13-25 but it seemed less good than it was as 9 of those came consecutively during the 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975 seasons.

  47. 52BigGameJames says:

    good point about Rick Barnes–kinda like a loud little leg-humping chihauhau.

    despite the numbers, the “big-win” coaches who stand out to me are K, TH, CT (I distinctly remember one Charlie Davis doing a Tyrese-like job on us in the Tourney), BC (Price/Dalrymple/Scott), and of course McGuire & Sloan who were legit threats when you played em. Bubas was so early in Dean’s career I’m not sure if that shouldn’t come with an asterisk. Tacy & Cremins didn’t have the consistency of a Dean or K, but they definitely brought it to your azz on occasion.

  48. william says:

    If anyone has any information, I would love to see DVD’s of the following games: Carolina-Duke, ACC tourney 1969; Carolina-USC ACC tourney 1971; State-UCLA National Semi-final, 1974; Maryland-UCLA, regular season, 1973.

    Also, this is the time of year when ESPN Classic shows the best stuff. In the past couple of years, I have seen some older stuff such as Maryland-NC State, ACC tourney final, 1974; Carolina-Marquette, NCAA Final 1977(Carolina had a chance to tie with under 2 minutes–you never hear that); UCLA-Kentucky, National Final, 1975 and UNC-Kentucky, No.1 vs. No.2, December 1981; and Georgtown-UVA, No.1 vs. No.2 (right before Chaminade) 1983.

    Unfortunately, the networks were not always careful. Many of the Knick title run games have been lost and the UCLA-Kentucky print was in awful condition, but still better than nothing.

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