Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Battle For Tobacco Road: Duke Vs. Carolina

Last year during March Madness on HBO they kept showing this great documentary on Villanova and their magic run to the Final Four in 1985 called The Perfect Upset. It chronicles the David and Goliath victory over powerhouse Georgetown and Patrick Ewing. So they are playing this thing every damn night or something. I'm saying to myself, this is a great story sure, but come on the UNC Vs. Georgetown Final in '82 was even better. Patrick Ewing was only a Freshman on Georgtown at the time. But Carolina had James Worthy, Jimmy Black Sam Perkins and a young wet behind the ears freshman named Michael Jordan. Why can't we see a documentary on that?Fast forward to this year--Most people know how much I love the Tarheels. In fact they know it so well that I was inundated with e-mails and phone calls last week from friends telling me about this documentary about the Carolina and Duke rivalry on HBO. It's only an hour, obviously not long enough to talk in depth about Carolina greats like Walter "Sweet D" Davis, Phil Ford or Charlie Scott but it did reveal a small hint at the tradition and excellence of Carolina basketball. They unfortunately had to divide the time by talking about both schools. But I did enjoy seeing them talk about Duke Pre-K. For some reason Dukies like to think that their perceived greatness did not occur until the rat-- I mean Mikey K. dropped from the heavens. But in actuality there have been a string of good coaches for years before the almighty Krzyzewski. For instance Eddie Cameron for whom their beloved stadium is named for. This guy was 119-56 for his career and won the Southern conference Championship three times. (This was the conference tournament before the ACC Tournament.) Then there was Gerry Gerard, Harold Bradley, Vic Bubas and Bill Foster.For Carolina it was Frank McGwire who put UNC basketball on the map. From 1953-1961 Frank McGwire used his New York connections to bring some of the best talent to the Tarheel State. Guys like Lennie Rosenbluth, with his height and skill was able to bring a second National Championship home to Chapel Hill. The spark however that spawned the program for UNC Basketball didn't truly begin until a little known Assistant Coach Dean Smith took over the program from McGwire in 1961. Through teaching and innovation Dean Smith took two NCAA titles and won the ACC Tournament 17 times. And did I forget to mention that up until a few years ago he was the winningest coach in College Basketball with 879 victories. Coach Roy Williams has continued the sucess of Dean by winning a championship himself in 2005 and 4 ACC Championships since he's been with Carolina.The Documentary kind of glossed over the rivalry between Duke and Carolina only briefly commenting on the big games like Carolina's comeback from an eight point deficit with under 17 seconds left to go. But after watching it I really feel that probably both schools deserve a two hour special, each. There is just so much history for both you don't really do them credit to cram them both into an hour long documentary. Especially with Dean Smith, this is an interesting guy. He played for Kansas learning under coach Phog Allen who had been coached by the inventor of basketball himself James Naismith. Coach Smith challenged segregation by enlisting the first African American scholarship player Charlie Scott. He was a teacher who molded some of the best players in Basketball history like Michael Jordan and Vince Carter. So give the Dean some love Hollywood! If you get a chance check out this documentary but if you are itching for more you can always buy the Deano's book. Or if you want more on the rivalry you can check this out.On another note my Heels won the ACC Regular season and then had to sideline their star player Ty Lawson for the ACC Tournament. The end result wasn't pretty they lost to Florida State and to add insult to injury Duke coasts by FSU to win the damn Tournament. The Tar Heels at least got their number one seed in the South and I feel pretty good about their chances especially now that I know that Ty is playing. This should be a good year for March Madness--everyone is fallable this year so let the sweating begin.

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