UNC Archive


Hatchell wins 9th annual Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award

Sylvia Hatchell.

Sylvia Hatchell.

University of North Carolina women ‘s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is the winner of the ninth annual Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Only weeks after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in October 2013, Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia and was forced to miss the entire 2013-14 season. After undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments that lasted until March 2014, she was cleared to return to the bench for the 2014-15 season. As of February 20th, Hatchell’s Tar Heels were 21-6, 8-5 in the ACC.

Hatchell said, “ I’m honored and humbled by this award, and it’s even more special, because I knew Bob Bradley.” On her battle with leukemia, Hatchell said, “It’s tough. It’s hard. But you can beat it. Every day is a blessing. Now, I try to support others who have leukemia, because I know how important it is to have that support.”

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said, “The resiliency that Coach Hatchell displayed in her fight against leukemia was truly inspiring. I can’t think of a more deserving person for this award. “She continues to be a role model for others that are currently battling the disease.”

A native of Gastonia, NC, Hatchell graduated cum laude from Carson-Newman College in 1974. She began her college coaching career at Francis Marion, where her Patriot teams went 272-80 over 11 seasons, including a 36-2 record in 1986, when they won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championship.

Hatchell is in her 29th season at North Carolina and 40th overall. As of February 20th, her UNC teams were 684-259. Hatchell’s 1993-94 UNC team won the NCAA national championship. Overall her teams have won 956 games and lost 339.

Hatchell and her husband Sammy have been married since 1979. Their son Van is a former UNC men’s basketball player and a graduate of UNC.

ACSMA will present Hatchell with the Bradley Award during the ACC Women’s Tournament in Greensboro, NC.

A joint venture of the ACC and ACSMA, the Bradley Award is given annually in memory of the longtime sports information director at Clemson University whose positive attitude inspired all who knew him as he battled cancer. The distinction goes to an ACC student-athlete, coach or administrator in men’s or women’s basketball who has overcome significant hardship to contribute to his or her team.


Tar Heels playing for fourth place Saturday against Duke

Roy Williams.

Roy Williams.

roywilliamsThe Tar Heels, after an impressive win at Georgia Tech, still have a chance to make it into the top four of the ACC with a game left at home vs. Duke.

The Blue Devils have been playing better than the Tar Heels since that 92-90 Carolina loss at Duke a couple of weeks ago. But this game should give the Heels some confidence going into the regular season finale.

Carolina has lacked an outside shooting alternative to Marcus Paige. But freshman Joel Berry, who was injured part of the season, hit three triples and scored a season-high 15 points.

If he can build on that, the Tar Heels will be a tough out in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. If, however, his shooting falters and Brice Johnson can’t be consistent (he was one of nine in this game after scoring 22 the game before), then the Tar Heels will have early exits.

UNC is chasing Louisville for the fourth spot in the league. If Carolina beats Duke and Louisville loses its final two games to Virginia and Notre Dame, ranked first and third in the league, the Heels will get the fourth spot. Even if Louisville beats Notre Dame but loses to Virginia, the Tar Heels will win the tie-breaker for fourth going into the ACC tourney. The big “if” is if Carolina beats Duke.

Williams said his Tar Heels, now 21-9 and 11-6 in the ACC, are playing hard. “If we get beat it won’t be because of a letdown,” he said. “We won a basketball game tonight and we’ve got a big one coming up.”


“Good times” for Heels in rout over Georgia Tech

Joel Berry.

Joel Berry.

Everybody got to play and contribute in a rout at Georgia Tech on senior night as North Carolina never trailed in an 81-49 victory to set up a regular season finale at home against rival Duke Saturday. (3/3)

“It was a good time,” UNC captain Marcus Paige said as he pointed to Joel Berry scoring a career-high and team-leading 15 points and several players seeing action for the first time in a long time and one seeing action for the first time.

Theo Pinson has been out for 10 games but got to play late in the game, scoring five points. Stilman White has been injured for much of the season but he got some action, securing a rebound. Finally, Spenser Dalton, who was called up from the JV squad just this week, picked up a steal.

Dalton, a junior, had been practicing with the short-handed varsity and UNC coach Roy Williams rewarded him with a promotion.

Senior Luke Davis had been out the entire season with a foot injury but even he got some action late.

On the other side, however, Georgia Tech lost leading scorer Marcus Georges-Hunt to a foot injury in the first few minutes of the game.

“I think they ran out of gas,” Coach Williams said. “We just had more bodies than they did.”

For more on the game, please click here.


Johnson’s 22 points lead Heels over Miami

bricejohnsonBrice Johnson scored 22 points and hauled in 11 rebounds to lead North Carolina to a 73-64 win at Miami. (2/28)

“Brice was huge for us,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “He was the exact opposite of last Tuesday (when the Tar Heels lost to NC State). We need him to play like that for us.”

The game was tied at 50 with just 8:30 left when UNC freshman Joel Berry buried a three for his only points of the game. Miami, which had taken a lead at 48-47 for the first time since it was 4-2, never tied or led again.

The Berry bucket started a 15-4 UNC run that put the Tar Heels in control at 65-54 with just 1:45 to go.

During the run, Johnson scored six points, four on dunks while Marcus Paige sank a falling down jumper at the end of the shot clock after the Heels burned time.

Over the last 1:45, Carolina hit 10 of 11 free throws, six of which came from Justin Jackson, to wrap it up.

In the first half, the Tar Heels led by as many as nine points, after a Paige three made it 20-11, but they had to settle for a 32-30 halftime lead.

“I was really pleased with the guys but we made some mistakes late in the first half,” Coach Williams said, adding that the team listened at halftime. “I thought we were pretty doggone good in the second half.”

Besides Johnson, the other Tar Heels in double figures were Paige (17 points), Jackson (11 points) and JP Tokoto (10 points and 10 rebounds).

Tokoto also had six assists and four steals, two of which that ended in his slamming down dunks.

Sheldon McClellan and Ivan Cruz Uceda led Miami, now 18-11 and 8-8 in the league, with 11 points each. It was a career high for Uceda, who hit three triples including back-to-back ones that gave the Hurricanes a brief lead.

The Tar Heels, who play at Georgia Tech Tuesday, improve to 20-9 overall and 10-6 in the ACC.



NCSU holds Heels to fewest points ever in the Smith Center

Mark Gottfried.

Mark Gottfried.

After getting out to a 16-point lead, a deliberate North Carolina State withstood a 12-0 North Carolina run to win in Chapel Hill for the first time since 2003 by a 58-46 score.

“They dominated from the get-go,” UNC coach Roy Williams said of the Wolfpack, who never trailed after falling behind 2-0. “Our crowd was fantastic and our team and our coach let ‘em down.”

The 46 points were the fewest the Tar Heels have ever scored at the Smith Center.

State’s defense held Carolina to 34.5 percent from the floor as Beejay Anya blocked six Tar Heel shots.

Offensively, the Wolfpack held the ball until late in the shot clock and, despite shooting just 35 percent, drained seven three-pointers. State hit four threes in the first half to take a 29-18 halftime lead.

The Pack got the lead up to 16 following a three by Ralston Turner early in the second half. But then the Tar Heels seemed to wake up with a 12-0 run.

Two buckets by UNC’s Justin Jackson cut the margin to 12. After a State timeout, a couple of nifty assists by Marcus Paige and Jackson cut the lead to eight and precipitated another State timeout.

But the run continued for the Heels. After a Jackson steal, Paige dove and passed to Jackson for a fastbreak layup. Then Paige whipped a pass to Kennedy Meeks to cut the lead to four at 36-32 as State called its third timeout of the half.

A Meeks follow shot cut the lead to 38-36 with 11:04 left in the game.

But State’s Turner drilled a three and, following a Carolina turnover, he went in for a fastbreak layup as the Pack weathered the storm to lead 43-36.

The Tar Heels cut the margin to four twice, the last time after a Paige three made it 50-46 with 2:33 to go.

But Carolina seemed to lose its poise with turnovers and bad shots while State was scoring the final eight points of the game to earn the 12-point victory.

“They made a run – we knew it was coming,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. “The rafters were shaking and our guys answered the run.” He said he was extremely proud of his team, particularly defensively.

Coach Williams said while his players made a nice run, they had no poise late in the game. Lazy passes, bad shot selection and simply poor execution of plays doomed the Heels.

“The last three or four minutes we looked like a team that’s never had a practice,” Williams said.

Jackson led the Tar Heels with 16 points while Meeks had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony Barber led NC State, now 17-11 and 8-7 in the league, with 15 points. Turner and Trevor Lacey added 14 each.

The Tar Heels fall to 19-9 overall and 9-6 in the ACC.


Four Corners honors Smith but leads to Williams rant against fans

Coach Roy Williams signals Four Corners.

Coach Roy Williams signals Four Corners.

Let’s be honest, holding the ball for 14 seconds before scoring isn’t exactly the Four Corners of old. But it was a nice gesture to begin North Carolina’s 89-60 victory over Georgia Tech.

Unfortunately, the Marcus Paige to Brice Johnson backdoor play in the Four Corners happened so quickly that I’m not sure everybody was keyed into it. As a result, it sounds as if Coach Roy Williams wasn’t real happy with the response from the crowd.

Based on the subdued crowd reaction, he thinks a lot of people didn’t recognize what he was doing.

While there are probably a lot of newcomers to Carolina basketball in the 18 years since Coach Smith retired, I tend to think that even those who recognized it were emotional themselves about it. It might have been more of a melancholy moment for them rather than a rah-rah moment.

Regardless, it did get Coach Williams on his soapbox about Carolina’s home crowd not being as loud and supportive as he’d like this season.

He says when he coaches on the road, his players have to read his lips but that they hear him fine at home.

He said “we’re in this together” and that the Tar Heels need some help from the home crowd. He thinks some fans are simply there to be entertained instead of being part of it all.

Frankly, Tar Heel fans are knowledgeable and they generally know when to be loud. Yelling for the sake of yelling and creating some imaginary chaos is often futile and annoying, and imitative of others.

Yes, the home crowd needs to be more engaged but I’d give them a pass on a day when they are paying tribute to Dean Smith – and beating a losing team by 30 points.

One thing is almost certain – the Tar Heel faithful will have the Smith Center rocking Tuesday night against rival NC State.

For more on the Georgia Tech game, please click here.


Tar Heels unravel to lose in OT at Duke

uncdukeNorth Carolina rallied from 13 down to lead rival Duke by 10 with just over three minutes to play but the Tar Heels unraveled at the end as the homestanding Devils won 92-90 in overtime Wednesday night.

It was an emotional back-and-forth game and what is already considered a classic.

The Blue Devils hit seven first-half threes, five from Quinn Cook, to take a commanding 49-36 lead.

Carolina made a mini-run that cut the lead to 49-42 at the half following a JP Tokoto dunk at the buzzer.

The Tar Heels turned the game around with a 15-4 run highlighted by an over-the-head dunk by Tokoto that gave Carolina its first lead of the game.

With another Cook three and a Jahlil Okafor inside, Duke took the lead at 62-61 with less than 10 minutes to play.

That’s when Carolina seemed to take control of the game. The Tar Heels went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes that was highlighted by a quick Marcus Paige to Joel Berry to Justin Jackson layup.

Nate Britt drove the lane for a basket with 3:47 left to give the Tar Heels their biggest lead at 77-67.

Carolina still led 79-74 with 1:23 left but after Duke’s final timeout, UNC’s Kennedy Meeks threw a long inbounds pass out of bounds. On Duke’s inbounds, Tokoto tipped it to Britt who was fouled.

After a long delay because the clock didn’t start, Britt missed the one-and-one. Tyus Jones was fouled going to the hoop and hit two free throws to draw the Devils to within two at 79-76.

Brice Johnson, who would foul out in overtime, hit a pair of free throws to put Carolina back up by five at 81-76 with 47 seconds left.

Jones again attacked the basket, scored and was fouled to an old-fashioned three.

Johnson was fouled but, after another delay because the clock kept running, he missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Again, Jones drove to the hoop to tie it at 81-81. Carolina had a chance with the last shot but Paige, who was only two of 11 on the night, missed a long two, sending the game into overtime.

The Tar Heels got up 87-84 on a Tokoto short bank shot with less than three minutes left. But after a Paige turnover, Cook scored inside to give Duke an 88-87 lead.

A pair of free throws by Isaiah Hicks put Carolina back up 89-88 with two minutes to go.

Okafor backed in for a bucket to put Duke up for good 90-89 at 1:41 left. After that, Britt missed a contested layup, Duke’s Matt Jones got a key offensive rebound and a discombobulated UNC offense managed only an outside shot by Tokoto with six seconds left that was missed.

Cook hit only one of two free throws to make it 92-89 so Carolina had a chance to tie it at the end but Britt was fouled.

He hit the first shot and, after a timeout, intentionally missed the second shot. Paige got a hand on the rebound and appeared to have been fouled by Winslow but it wasn’t called.

Just like that, it was over.

“Everybody’s going to talk about missed free throws at the end,” UNC coach Roy Williams said, “but we made mistakes in the first two minutes of the game as well.”

Williams said some weird things happened down the stretch but that he was proud of his team, especially the way the Heels played at the beginning of the second half.

“There were two good basketball teams and the best team won tonight,” he said.

Meeks and Johnson led North Carolina with 18 points each while Cook and Jones led Duke with 22 points each.

Carolina falls to 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the ACC while No. 5 Duke improves to 23-3 and 10-3 in the league.



Dean Smith’s funeral: My day in Chapel Hill

Dean Smith's funeral at Brinkley Baptist Church in Chapel Hill on Feb. 12, 2015.

Dean Smith’s funeral at Brinkley Baptist Church in Chapel Hill on Feb. 12, 2015.

I just happened to be in Chapel Hill on the same day as Dean Smith’s private funeral – true, I promise.

I had business there for a website I’m working on. I couldn’t help but notice it wasn’t a usual day.

The Carolina Club and the Alumni Building were teaming with smiling faces greeting you at every turn. Very tall people were walking around. A helicopter was circling above.

The family of Dean Smith wanted this to be a private funeral with family and friends, which included former players, coaches and managers. And it was. The few media at the Brinkley Baptist Church during the ceremony stayed a respectful distance with high-powered cameras.

The time had been kept a secret so a few photographers were camped out near the road in front of the church. I had some time between appointments so I went to the church. I pulled in before I really knew where I was.

I couldn’t back out so a nice gentlemen, probably noticing my leather bomber jacket, asked if I were attending the funeral. I thought about it for a second but, even though I interacted with Coach Smith over the span of two years many moons ago, I knew I wasn’t the kind of close friend the family had in mind. I told him no that I was just passing by.

He directed me to go forward to get out on the other side. I passed by the hundreds of cars jamming the parking lot and the roadside in front of the parking lot. Obviously assuming I had made the cut past the first gentleman, another man tried to usher me to a prime parking spot just behind the black Cadillac beside the front door.

I believe the 90-minute service had been going on for a few minutes and they must have been holding a few prime parks for late arrivers or possibly handicapped people.

Again, I thought for a second and looked at my tennis shoes. If I had a jacket and different shoes, I was dressed well enough. I had on a Carolina blue button down shirt after all but I remembered how Coach Smith expected his players to dress well. I told the man that I was just passing through.

I passed by numerous police officers lining the drive, nodding to them. I managed to take a couple of poor quality pics with my smart phone. And I found my way out, once someone moved a cone for me to exit.

I went to the grocery store parking lot next door and walked out along the street where the photographers were located. I took a couple of better pictures with a better camera, and I left to take a few pictures of where I thought he was to be buried.

I’m still not sure where he was buried or if he was cremated but I took pictures at the funeral home tent at the cemetery nonetheless.

I figured this would be my chance to have some part in it as I’m not big on large public memorials. Usually they aren’t religiously based and when they are, they are a tad over the top for my taste. Plus, someone usually uses the occasion to spread some contentious political view, or it turns into a pep rally – something else I’m not comfortable with when dealing with death.

So, I probably will not attend the public memorial Feb. 22 in the Smith Center.

Most of the people I saw in various spots on campus or at the church will probably not be at that Feb. 22 service. They include Phil Ford, Charlie Scott, Eric Montross, Larry Brown, George Lynch, J.R. Reid, Jerry Stackhouse, Brad Daugherty, John Thompson and dozens more notables, some I recognized – like Coach K, and some I didn’t – such as those others over 6-foot-4.

After the Dean Smith funeral services, friends and family went to the Carolina Club to catch up and reminisce.

After the Dean Smith funeral services, friends and family went to the Carolina Club to catch up and reminisce.

I understand that the day began and ended at the Carolina Club, next to Kenan Stadium. In between there was the service, where Smith’s children spoke, as did current UNC coach Roy Williams and former Chapel Hill mayor Howard Lee.

Dean Smith was and will always be basketball royalty. The court called to Chapel Hill to lay the king to rest will never be larger or more distinguished, especially in regards to the world of basketball.

Like the proverbial fly on the wall, I saw a bit of it and, while I feared being an interloper, ultimately curiosity didn’t kill this cat.

But I wonder what would have happened had I worn a coat and nice shoes.


Dean Smith to me

Dean Smith.

Dean Smith.

Of all the things I’ve heard about legendary UNC coach Dean Smith since his passing Saturday night, the one that stuck with me was journalist Peter Gammons, who like myself was sports editor of the Daily Tar Heel, when he wrote, “Dean Smith cared about every person he knew.”

Even though one would think I was a bother as a whipper-snapper budding journalist, Coach Smith took time to answer my questions when he wouldn’t talk to anyone else. He allowed me into practice when he would allow no other journalists. He let me travel with the team to various games, including the national championship game.

He said he was committed to the student body at UNC, and that included me.

I was walking with my friend Clay the day before the national championship and Coach Smith walked by tapping me on the shoulder – smiling as he hurriedly moved past us – and asking “Cliff, how are your accommodations?” I said, “Great coach, thanks for asking.”

I turned to talk to my friend Clay. He wasn’t there – he was stationary back where Coach first spoke to me, mouth ajar like a cartoon character. He couldn’t believe Coach Smith was right there, speaking to me and using my name. It has become a joke over the years but in some respects Coach Smith was like a god.

I wrote the first paragraph to my national championship article early in the season as I was convinced the Tar Heels would win. It was simply, “On the seventh try, Dean created national champions.”

Some considered that a dig regarding the other six times Coach Smith had been to the Final Four and failed to come away with the prize but that’s not the way it was meant. I was alluding to how he was held in such esteem that he was considered like a god.

Yet he was humble and unassuming and always deflected praise. Despite the fact that I grew up in Rocky Mount wanting to be on Coach Smith’s Blue Team (I never dreamed of being a starter like hometown hero Phil Ford), I had always been taught in journalism school to be unbiased in non-editorial stories. As a result, I had never really thanked Coach Smith for how he had helped my career.

I called his radio program about five years after graduation to do so. After first not hearing my name – he thought the caller was Chris Barnes – he enthusiastically promoted me on the radio and deflected my comments of praise. He said something to the affect: “Cliff was an excellent writer at the Daily Tar Heel. Cliff, you should be thanking your teachers from high school and college, and your parents, not me.”

That is Dean Smith to me.


What they’re saying about the death of a legend

Dean Smith, courtesy UNC Sports Information.

Dean Smith, courtesy UNC Sports Information.

Dean Smith, the legendary coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, passed away Saturday night. Here is what they’re saying.

The Smith family
“Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of February 7 at his home in Chapel Hill, and surrounded by his wife and five children. We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you.”

Peter Gammons, former DTH sports editor and long-time journalist
“Many of us owe a life of thanks to Dean Smith. ‘You can be really good,’ he implored, pushing me to a journalistic life. Many coaches care about their own legacies. Dean Smith cared about every person he knew.”

John Swofford, ACC Commissioner
“Sometimes the word legend is used with too little thought. In this instance, it almost seems inadequate. He was basketball royalty, and we have lost one of the greats in Dean Smith.”

Jay Bilas, ESPN commentator and former Duke player
“Dean Smith was one of the finest coaches in the history of American sport. His championship record, innovation, teaching and influence in the lives and careers of players and coaches are unsurpassed in college basketball. Yet the profound sadness we all feel at his passing Saturday at the age of 83 speaks to something far more substantial. Dean Smith, the coach, was the embodiment of true coaching and competitive greatness. Dean Smith, the man, was far greater, and far more influential.”

Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo Sports
“College basketball lost one of its icons Saturday night… Any lingering bitterness among Smith’s rivals has faded in recent years as his health has declined. Dementia began to ravage his famously steely memory almost a decade ago. In recent years, the man who once could recall specific plays from games he coached in decades earlier could no longer recognize some of his most decorated players or most trusted assistant coaches.”

Michael Jordan, Hall of Fame basketball player
“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach — he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. My heart goes out to [Smith's wife] Linnea and their kids. We’ve lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family.”

Caulton Tudor, long-time sports writer
“Dean did more to advance the team concept than any previous coach in any sport. He was totally devoted to his players and to Carolina.”

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke coach
“We have lost a man who cannot be replaced. He was one of a kind and the sport of basketball lost one of its true pillars… His greatest gift was his unique ability to teach what it takes to become a good man. That was easy for him to do because he was a great man himself. All of his players benefited greatly from his basketball teachings, but even more from his ability to help mold men of integrity, honor and purpose. Those teachings, specifically, will live forever in those he touched.”

John Calipari, Kentucky coach
“Dean Smith was the most innovative and player-loved coach of his time.”

Bob Valvano
I know it surprised some people my brother Jim at NCSt and Dean at UNC got along well, but they did, and I was always proud of that. Legend.

Carol Folt, UNC Chancellor
“Our Carolina community is deeply saddened by the passing of Dean Smith. Coach Smith was an extraordinary man who cared deeply about people. Known worldwide as a legendary basketball coach, our University, the Chapel Hill community, and the countless students, faculty, staff and people across North Carolina and beyond will remember him as a great teacher and remarkable pioneer in promoting equality and civil rights.

“For Coach Smith, his players, coaches and staff were family. He was a trusted mentor whose care for his players went beyond the basketball court and continued after they left Carolina. He will be remembered as a great American and true Tar Heel.”

Roy Williams, UNC coach
“It’s such a great loss for North Carolina – our state, the University, of course the Tar Heel basketball program, but really the entire basketball world. We lost one of our greatest ambassadors for college basketball for the way in which a program should be run. We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in.

“He set the standard for loyalty and concern for every one of his players, not just the games won or lost.

“He was the greatest there ever was on the court but far, far better off the court with people. His concern for people will be the legacy I will remember most.

“He was a mentor to so many people; he was my mentor. He gave me a chance but, more importantly, he shared with me his knowledge, which is the greatest gift you can give someone.

“I’m 64 years old and everything I do with our basketball program and the way I deal with the University is driven by my desire to make Coach Smith proud. When I came back to Carolina, the driving force was to make him proud and I still think that today.

“I’d like to say on behalf of all our players and coaches, past and present, that Dean Smith was the perfect picture of what a college basketball coach should have been. We love him and we will miss him.”

Dave DeWitt, WUNC radio
“In the coming days, old rivals and players and friends will share stories and memories. Countless commentators and Carolina fans will obsess over the details of Smith’s career and debate his legacy.

“But in an interview conducted in 2008, Smith didn’t believe his greatest successes were the 879 victories or the 1976 Gold Medal or the national championships, he chose instead to focus on the extended family he now leaves behind:

“‘I never really thought about a legacy, except the nice thing I’m probably most pleased with, the real high graduation rate: 96 percent. But the fact they all stick together. They call themselves the Carolina Family. I didn’t plan that. They’re really good people. I think they all like me now. They might not have liked me when I played. I don’t know whether that’s a legacy, but I’m very proud of all of ‘em.’”