All season long Chapelboro.com’s “Hoop It Up” will be republishing select excerpts from Return To The Top on the 20th Anniversary of Dean Smith’s 2nd NCAA title season in 1993. Check back on Monday of each week for the next RTTT.
We are excited to have had such an enjoyable year, one filled with so many memorable moments. Our players challenged themselves from the off-season on to be the best they could be, and they accomplished their ultimate goal.
Only one team in the NCAA Tournament can finish the season with a victor, and I’m so happy for our seniors that they did it in their last chance. The coaches have a chance every year, but the players only have four shots at it. The balance of talent in college basketball today makes the odds overwhelming, so our players can take tremendous pride in what they achieved.
Like all of our Carolina teams, this one played hard, played together and made the most of the big plays; we also had the good fortunate to avoid injuries to key players and had the bounce of the ball go our way on some occasions. I’ve always said you have to be both good and lucky, and we were.
I do know we couldn’t have accomplished any of our goals without the seniors – George, Henrik, Matt, Scott and Travis.. They all earned their degrees in May and will go on to be successful, whether they play basketball or not. Preparing themselves for the rest of their lives is the most important objective, and it’s nice to win some basketball games along the way.
George Lynch has been a special player and a real joy to have coached in college. He does everything, seems to be everywhere. I don’t like to compare players, so I’ll just say he’s among the best offensive rebounders we’ve ever had, and certainly his effort was among the best. That means he’s among the best offensive rebounders to ever play college basketball. His statistics over four years are just amazing but don’t tell all the story.
Henrik Rodl is one of the smartest players I’ve had to privilege to be around. He was the most underrated player on the team, a great passer and defender. He’s a very special young man who added so much to our team. Henrik will go on to play pro basketball in Germany, and then maybe he and Susan will come back to visit us. Or he may choose to enter medical school here at Chapel Hill.
Our depth was such a big key this season, not in games as much as in practice. For someone who came in so highly recruited, Matt Wenstrom chose to have a great attitude every day he went out to practice or play. And that helped Eric (Montross) and Kevin (Salvadori) get ready. They really had some battles in practice.
And Matt was surely ready when called upon. I know one thing: we couldn’t have won the Florida State game in Chapel Hill without Matt’s help in the first half. Without him, we would have been too far behind. Matt will pay basketball professionally and I believe will have an excellent career.
Someone else who could have gone to another school and played more is Scott Cherry. He was so valuable to us in practice because he knew what we wanted and he can execute playing several positions. He should have played a lot more, except that we had three guards, Derrick Phelps, Henrik and Donald Williams, for two guard positions. When one was hurt, Scott received more playing time.
Travis Stephenson continued our tradition of walk-ons earning a scholarship after they play on the junior varsity. We’ve always believed in a jayvee team, for the student body, and Travis proved that players who aren’t recruited can certainly help the varsity
I’m especially glad the seniors got a chance to write the diaries in this book. They’ve been such a special part of the program, and now they’re getting to talk about it in their own words.
I’m looking forward to reading what each has to say!
– Dean Smith
You can follow Art on Twitter @ArtChansky