Review: 'Led By Their Dreams'

With the release this month of "Led by Their Dreams: The Inside Story of Carolina's Journey to the 2005 National Championship," Inside Carolina provides a review ...

UNC Practice Plan - March 30, 2005
Thought for the Day
"Be led by your dreams."

It was a dream that seemed so far away after a disastrous freshman season for Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott. An ACC title? A national championship?

But through faith in themselves, the program and their coaches and teammates, the Tar Heels ran through their final practice in Chapel Hill on March 30 before heading to the Final Four in St. Louis on the brink of realizing that dream.

Everyone knows what happened next, but the unforgettable details of the 2004-05 national championship season – from start to finish – have already seemingly started to become distant memories.

How is that possible? It's been six months. That's a long time in the college basketball world. Only days after ‘One Shining Moment,' the seven top scorers were preparing for pro basketball careers and Roy Williams was out on the recruiting trail preparing for next season and beyond.

So, as the 2005-06 preseason begins on Friday night, and the championship banner is raised to the rafters, it will be the last opportunity for the Tar Heel fans to reflect together on the championship before the new team takes center stage.

But those memories live on in "Led by Their Dreams: The Inside Story of Carolina's Journey to the 2005 National Championship." The 241-page book (plus acknowledgements, a foreword and preface), published by Lyon's Press ($29.95), cannot be referred to as the ‘official championship book' – but it might as well be.

The three authors – Adam Lucas, Steve Kirschner and Matt Bowers – are all closely tied to the University. Kirschner and Bowers work at the Dean E. Smith Center, in the Athletic Communications office, while Lucas writes for the school's web site and is the editor of the school's unofficial-official magazine. That, combined with the access the three had to conduct lengthy interviews with the players and coaches, and the inclusion of a foreword written by Dean Smith, leads us to term this the ‘authorized championship book.'

When we published the Inside Carolina Championship Commemorative Issue back in April, just days after returning from St. Louis, the goal was to provide game-by-game recaps and photos, as well as a lengthy article to provide some historical perspective.

"Led By Their Dreams" is completely different, not just because it's a hardcover book, in a coffee-table format. The first 121 pages – in 18 themed chapters – are framed as a story, rather than recounting each individual game, from the three seniors foreshadowing the team's potential in the preseason to the end-of-season basketball banquet. With the authors' access to the program, they are able to provide almost as many behind-the-scenes details as on the court. Mixed in are the team's "Thought for the Day" from practice plans.

And in this section and throughout are a terrific collection of photographs, an obvious strongpoint of the book. We're honored that a number of these shots – many of which run full page – are from Inside Carolina's archive, by our photographer Jim Hawkins.

The next 100 pages are excerpts from interviews with the five coaches and eight leading players conducted after the season (these are from the same interviews used for the "Team Carolina" DVD). A four-page tribute to academic advisor Burgess McSwain, the team photo, roster, schedule and postseason notes and awards complete the final pages of the book.

But there is a bonus hidden and affixed to the inside back cover – two CDs that contain the entire radio broadcast of the championship game by Woody Durham and Co.

From a critical – admittedly nit-picking – perspective, the championship story section of the book does leave you wanting more. It's 121 pages, though with heavy photos and limited text per page. Likely there wasn't enough time or pages available for a longer endeavor – and it also of course wouldn't work in the coffee table format. And for those who have already watched the "Team Carolina" DVD, you will notice the (likely unavoidable) overlap with some of the player and coach quotes, as well as several anecdotes.

Though, in summary, the retelling of the championship run, exclusive interviews, endless photographs, Thought for the Days and the radio call of the championship game can only be found in "Led by Their Dreams" -- thus making it an obviously necessary purchase for every Carolina basketball fan.

To order your copy of "Led by Their Dreams" – CLICK HERE.

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