An Evening with Dean Smith

An <i>IC</i> reader reports back from Thursday night's fundraiser.

Dean Smith was speaking on behalf of the Multiple Sclerosis Society at the fundraising event. Over $140,000 was raised to help find a cure. Dean was seated with Coach Matt Doherty and Phil Ford. Dick Grubar, Dave Colescott, and John Swofford were also in attendance.

Coach Smith received as expected, a standing ovation when Woody Durham introduced him. Durham and Smith small-talked for a couple of minutes and then Smith stood and introduced "the 2001 National Coach of the Year and head basketball coach of the University of North Carolina, Matt Doherty." Doherty also received a standing ovation, as did Ford when he was introduced.

Coach Smith went on answering several questions from the audience. A few interesting exchanges were as follows:

One guest asked about the relationships between the various ACC coaches. Smith said they were very good and all the coaches usually got along. He described the famous exchange between he and Rick Barnes and said that Barnes called him that night to apologize and that he was only trying to energize the Clemson fans. Again said that they remain friends and that Barnes' daughter wrote him a letter when he retired.

Smith said that the thing he misses most, as he has said before, are the practices -- that he misses teaching.

Responding to a question about his current involvement with the program, Smith said that he often sat with recruits for Coach Guthridge and from time to time offered his opinion on game decisions and tapes when requested. He also meets recruits for Doherty and has given his opinion and suggestions when requested and occasionally sat in on practices. He also went on to say that Guthridge had been coach of the year and Doherty had been coach of the year, and that even when he coached that the big boosters offered their "opinions" on coaching, mentioning Koury, Fulton and Burress by name. Smith closed that answer by saying that Doherty would get us back to number one and that he is an excellent coach.

Smith said he is not a fan of the current AAU setup which allows coaches to recruit players from around the country. He feels that it should be limited by allowing players to only play within 100 miles from home.

He said he is not opposed to players leaving early and it was and remains a policy of the Carolina staff to provide players with as much information as possible on the pros and cons and allow the player and their family to make the decision -- offering personal advice only if asked, which they always have been. Said that the advice is solely based on what is best for that player and nothing else.

The most interesting answer of the evening was a response to his best memories in coaching. Coach Smith reiterated his love of teaching and said that his favorite memories were at Carolina Basketball camp when at the end of the week they did the head count and confirmed that no student had drowned or been run-over – that all were accounted for and going home.

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