Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Tribute to Dean Smith

Dean Smith on Mistakes

Dean Smith, the coach of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, died on February 7th, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at the age of 83.  Smith had been suffering from advanced dementia for years.

Dean Smith retired with 879 wins under his belt with the 9th highest winning percentage in college basketball (77.6%).  During his tenure as the head coach of the Tar Heels, Smith's teams appeared in 11 NCAA Final Four games and won two national championships in 1982 and 1993. While the recent exposure of the Tar Heel Paper Courses scandal took away some of the luster from the 1993 championship, Smith's motto about mistakes offers a positive way forward.  

Although Dean Smith did not have a set coaching style, his Tar Heel teams tended to feature a fast break half court offense that stressed passing along with a trapping defense that created turnovers and easy baskets.  Smith's coaching popularized the "tired signal" of a raised fist, huddles before free throws, having point guards call out set defenses.  Dean Smith innovated several defensive sets, including the point zone, double teaming the screen and roll and the run and jump. 

Dean Smith was also known for employing the Four Corners Offense, which a team with a lead stalled.   The NCAA instituted a shot clock in 1985 to speed up play and discourage ball control offense thereby foiling the Four Corners Offense.

Tar Heels and college hoops fans will mourn the passing of Dean Smith.

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