Chansky continues to pound away at Bill Guthridge, documenting the reasons
he believes Gut should be gone.Â It seems, on some levels, fundamentally
unfair, yet it's clear that UNC fans have had a hard time adjusting to end of
what we like to call the Smith Interregnum, since Smith showed up when Vic Bubas
was in his glory, andÂ left when Mike Krzyewski was taking firm control of
ACC basketball.Â Come on, say it, it sounds good: Smith Interregnum. Dukus
Interruptus.Â Ok, that last one didn't sound so good, but the first one we
like. Tell your neighbors.
Anyway, clearly this is tough for UNC fans and supporters. 18-12 is not what
they're used to over there.Â But is it all Gut's fault? Did Gut tell Ed
Cota to go to Franklin Street and get mixed up in trouble? Of course not. He
told him the opposite. Does he tell Brendan Haywood to play passively at times?
No, he tells him the opposite, just like he told Serge Zwikker, Warren Martin,
Chick Yonaker, and about a thousand goofy big men who became draft picks.Â
And of course he didn't tell Curry and LangÂ and Bersticker to get hurt -
and by the way - why don't the coaches get any credit for Pepper's progress?
We're supposed to believe that this manchild just wandered in from Kenan and
mastered the legendarily complex system without input from the coaches?
There's no question, as Chansky says, that UNC basketball isn't what it was a
few years ago.Â But what is Bill Guthridge being damned for? In a nutshell,
he's being damned for not being Dean Smith.Â Many ACC fans will rush to say
"Thank God He's Not," and that's not just because Dean was such a
great coach, but he was insulting and rude and petty far too often.Â Â
He was also an incredibly competitive coach and was a brilliant strategist
and psychologist.Â Guthridge is probably not as good at those things, but
how many people are?
What we're getting at here is this: Chansky may well pin Gut down correctly,
saying that he has the mindset of a career assistant.Â Â But it's very
difficult to follow a legend, particularly one with a cult of personality like
Dean had. You may remember the old Valvano joke of the barber who was talking
about the NC State teams of David Thompson, which lost only one game in two
years. "Yeah," the guy said, "but imagine what Dean would have
done with that team."
For years that kind of awe worked against the rest of the ACC. Now it's
boomeranged against UNC.
The more interesting question is this: what happens if they run him off or,
more likely, he bags it?Â Roy Williams has always been option #1, but while
he's won a lot at Kansas, he's also gone down in flames in the NCAA on a very
regular basis and hasn't made a Final Four since before Jason Williams hit
puberty.Â He's also become fairly thin-skinned in recent years, ripping
Billy Donovan's recruiting publicly, ripping Kansas fans on the internet, and
denouncingÂ Kansas fans in Lawrence Field House.Â
The fans, lately, aren't entirely crazy about Roy, perhaps
understandably.Â But if he thinks it's bad there, then wait until he comes
back here and loses in the 2nd round.Â Â Â The pressure, from UNC
fans and other ACC fans as well, will be intense, and if he thinks the Kansas
fans lack intensity, wait til he gets a load of the Dean Dome.
The point we're making is that no matter what UNC does, it's going to be
tough. Dean Smith was sold for so long as the Ultimate Basketball Genius that no
one can really measure up.Â Duke fans and other ABC people love to point
out the failings - the strategic mistake against Marquette, that both
championships were won when opponents made incredibly stupid mistakes - but
there's no denying the man's talent and accomplishments.Â But he's done.
Roy Williams will succeed, should he end up at UNC, but he can't be
Dean.Â Â And ultimately, that's what is desired. Coach K, at last
summer's banquet/celebration, made a big point of stressing the long tradition
Duke has hadÂ under different coaches.Â His point was that he isn't
Duke basketball and that it will go on without him, without Brand, without
Maggette, or Avery, or whoever. It has got deep roots. We were glad he drew the
subtle distinction then, and even more glad today.
Chansky and Guthridge have both spent their adult lives profiting from Dean Smith's success, but only one of them seems to be handling the reversal of fortunes well - or at least gracefully.