February 23, 2015
There is small of group of college basketball coaches that are placed at the pinnacle of success. Then there is Dean Smith, the iconic coach of University of North Carolina. Dean Smith passed away on February 7th at the age of 83. Smith transcends all those with more victories, winning percentages and national championships because he created such a style and team style play that is considered the gold standard for college basketball coaching. He was a great mentor to players whom graduated at rate of 97% and Smith has also been credited with running a “clean” program.
Smith accomplishments are as follows: 879 wins in 36 years of coaching, 4th most in men’s college Division I basketball history behind Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim and most wins of any coach at the time of his retirement. In comparison Adolph Rupp won 876 in 41 years of coaching. Smith compiled a 77.6% winning percentage while coaching 1, 133 games at an average of 31.5 games a season. His winning percentage puts him 9th on the highest winning percentage.
Smith’s coaching style varied depending on the type of players he had on his squad. Even though he liked the fast break the best, he is mostly known for a half-court offense emphasizing the passing game. On defense he employed an aggressive trapping scheme to produce turnovers and easy baskets.
Smith really emphasizes team mates to always pick each other up both physically and mentally. His players pointed at each other when the other made a great play or assist. The team would also huddle at the free throw line before a foul shot. Smith took care of his seniors for their loyalty by starting them in the last home game of the year. He was such as great motivator without having to resort to loud angry vocal displays.
His accolades are numerous such as, coach of year, various hall of fames and he was the first recipient of the Mentor Lifetime Achievement, given by the University of North Carolina committee on Teaching Awards for “broader range of teaching beyond the classroom.” He has also been awarded honorary doctorates by Eastern University and Catawba College.
Lastly, one hallmark Smith’s tenure as coach was the concept of the “Carolina Family”, the idea that anyone associated with the program was entitled to the support of others. Many of his former players and coaching staff became successful basketball coaches and executives. Dean Smith was one of a kind with the combination of skills that included innovation and teaching while being a kind and decent human being.