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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina.’

Legendary North Carolina Tar Heels coach Dean Smith dies at 83

Dean Smith (2009 photo by Zeke Smith via wikipedia commons)

Dean Smith, the Hall of Fame legend who won two national championships at North Carolina along with an Olympic gold medal while coaching, has died. He was 83.

In a statement released by the university from the Smith family,  the coach died “peacefully” at his Chapel Hill home Saturday evening. He was with his wife and five children.

Smith coached some of the biggest names ever in college basketball. The list is long Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, Billy Cunningham, Hubert Davis, Matt Doherty, Phil Ford, George Karl, Charlie Scott, James Worthy, John Kuester, Jeff Lebo, Mitch Kupchak, Sam Perkins, Bob McAdoo, Kenny Smith, Rick Fox, Jerry Stackhouse, Walter Davis, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter and Rasheed Wallace to name a few.

He sent more than 50 players to the NBA and ABA.

Smith had health issues in recent years, where he had a condition that was causing him to lose memory. He stayed out of the public’s eye since 2010. His wife, Linnea, accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf from President Barack Obama in November 2013.

Born Feb. 28, 1931, in Emporia, Kan., the son of public school teachers, Dean Edwards Smith graduated from the University of Kansas with a communications degree in 1953. He played for the Jayhawks teams that won the NCAA title in 1952 and finished second the next year. While at Kansas, Smith played for another legendary basketball coach in Phog Allen which the Jayhawks home arena is named after, Allen Fieldhouse.

He served as an assistant coach at Kansas to Allen and Dick Harp before joining the Air Force. He was an assistant basketball coach at the Air Force Academy, and also the baseball and golf coach for a year, before leaving in 1958 to join Frank McGuire’s staff at North Carolina. When McGuire left to coach in the NBA in the summer of 1961, the university selected Smith, 30 years old at the time, to take over the program.

Smith had an 8-9 record his first season and never had one again.

He won two championships in his career, 1982 and 1993. Other career accomplishments included: 11 regional titles which led to the Final Four; 13 ACC Tournament titles; 18 ACC regular season titles; NIT title in 1971; National Coach of the Year 4 times and ACC coach of the Year 9 times.

He is the member of several Hall of Fames: North Carolina 1981; Basketball 1983; Kansas 1996; College Basketball 2006 and the ingaural class of FIBA in 2007

Smith retired in October 1997 with a career record of 879-254, having eclipsed ‘The Baron” Adolph Rupp’s record of 876 victories during the NCAA tournament earlier that year in March.

Smith was very active in his church, politics, while speaking out on social issues such as civil rights, the death penalty, affirming gays and lesbians.

During his regime at UNC, Smith, with the insistence of his pastor started to recruit black athletes to his team. In 1967, swingman Charlie Scott became the first black athlete on scholarhip.

In politics, he supported Democrats and Liberals. He donated money to the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean, Bill Bradley, North Carolina alumnus John Edwards and Obama.

With his wife, Linnea,  Smith is also survived by daughters Sandy, Sharon, Kristen and Kelly; son Scott; and several grandchildren.

Dean Smith Center interior (2007 photo by Greenstat via wikipedia commons)

 

Pittsburgh Penguins stay busy, naming Jim Rutherford as new GM

Jim Rutherford as a player (photo by Detroit Red Wings via wikipedia commons)

The Pittsburgh Penguins fired head coach Dan Bylsma and hired a new GM, Jim Rutherford all in the same day.

The 65-year-old Rutherford resigned the same position back in April with the Carolina Hurricanes. He replaces Ray Shero, who was fired three weeks ago.

Rutherford is a former 5’8, 160-pound goalie in the NHL from 1969-1983 with Detroit, Toronto and the LA Kings.

This is a homecoming for him with Pittsburgh, as he played goaltender for the team in the 1970′s.

After his playing career, he spent 20 years with the Hartford Whalers franchise, who moved to North Carolina in 1997 and became the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

New Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis wasting no time in cleaning house for a “fresh start”

Ron Francis (2006 photo by akulawolf via wikipedia commons)

Ron Francis was one of the NHL’s best centers during his career which lasted form 1981-2004. He was used to winning and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007 after playing for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Toronto.

It has come to no one’s surprise to Carolina Hurricanes fans and media in North Carolina that he has started cleaning house after taking over as the general manager last week from Jim Rutherford who resigned after two decades.

The Hurricanes former captain and assistant coach fired head coach Kirk Muller and most of his staff. Muller was 80-80-27 with the Hurricanes. Also shown the door were assistant coaches Dave Lewis and John MacLean. Goaltending coach Greg Stefan has been reassigned to the team’s pro scouting department.

Francis, who was an imposing center during his playing days at 6’3, 200 pounds, said that no one’s job is safe on the team not even the most-popular stars. He also stated that a fresh start is needed for a franchise who has made the Stanley Cup playoffs only once in the past eight years.

The Hurricanes have won a Stanley Cup, in 2005-2006. They’ve won two Eastern Conference championships in 2001-02 and 2005-06.

Ohio State gets another basketball transfer in Trevor Thompson

Trevor Thompson (courtesy Virginia Tech)

Ohio State head basketball coach Thad Matta has had some good news the past two weeks.

First, he received word that Temple University forward Anthony Lee would transfer.

On Sunday, Virginia Tech freshman center Trevor Thompson said that he would be coming to Ohio State as well.

The two players add height and depth to the frontcourt. Lee is 6’9, Thompson is 7’0.

Trevor’s dad is former MLB outfielder, Ryan Thompson, who played nine years with the Mets, Cleveland, Houston, the Yankees, Florida and Milwaukee. Now 46 years old, Thompson won a World Championship with the Yankees in 2000.

With Virginia Tech during the 2013-2014 season: 2013-14: Played in 30 games, making ten starts … Named to the All-ACC Academic team … Made collegiate debut in the win over West Virginia, scoring five points, grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots … Recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds against Western Carolina … Grabbed six rebounds and blocked five shots against VMI … Grabbed eight rebounds and added four points off the bench against VCU … Scored four points and blocked a shot in just three minutes of action against UNCG … Brought down four rebounds and added eight points against UMES … Made the first start of his career against No. 2 Syracuse, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds … Recorded the second double-double of his career with 10 points and 12 rebounds against Wake Forest … Scored seven points and added four rebounds against Maryland … Scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots at Florida State … Had eight points and six rebounds at Pittsburgh … Grabbed 12 rebounds and scored eight points in the win over Miami … Neared a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds against NC State … Matched his career best with 15 points, adding three steals and six rebounds at No. 6 Duke … Scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds against No. 19 North Carolina … Led all players with 10 rebounds, also adding six points, at Maryland … Scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in ACC Tournament game against Miami.

 

**2013-2014 INFORMATION COURTESY OF VIRGINIA TECH SPORTS INFORMATION

Kirk Urso honored by MLS Players Union

Kirk Urso (courtesy MLS)

Former Columbus Crew player Kirk Urso was a great person.

He was always great with the media, although soft-spoken. And he was a great teammate as the players have said in interviews.

Urso is still being honored even in death.

The Major League Soccer Players Union recently announced that it has pledged to donate a portion of its 2012 player fines to the KIRK URSO MEMORIAL FUND.

The Urso Fund supports research and programming focused on congenital heart defects and sudden cardiac arrest in youth.

The likable Urso passed away on August 5, 2012 due to a congenital heart defect at the age of 22 at the Ohio Health – Grant Medical Center, after playing in six games for the Crew in his rookie season.

Urso played collegiately at North Carolina.

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