1987 Radio Interview with Dean Smith

And not just any radio interview. It is 34 minutes long and Dean Smith talking to the UNC student radio station. As WTVD's Mark Armstrong said, it is like listening to some kind of early podcast.

I have gleaned a few highlights below but if you have the time listen to the full audio here. The interview offers tremendous insight into how Carolina basketball is what it is and a reminder just how much of Dean Smith's system is still done under Roy Williams.

  • Three minutes into the interview, there is a golf reference. Now I know where Roy Williams gets it from.
  • The interviewers kept focusing on J.R. Reid but Smith kept bringing it around to all the other players and the team as a whole.
  • "J.R. is intellingent enough to not to believe what the media says and to know that he has a lot more to learn. And if he starts listening to that then he's in trouble and the team's in trouble. Of course we'd go without him if he started playing like he really believed everything they are saying about him"
  • Admits making a mistake not recruiting a third point guard to backup Kenny Smith and Jeff Lebo. That left them using walk-on Rodney Hyatt at point guard to back up Lebo with Smith out.
  • Believed everyone on the team should "get the same" which included scholarships. Smith said he liked keeping scholarships available for players to come up from the JV team. He lamented the cut from 15 to 13 scholarships since it could prevent him from doing that.
  • "As long as I'm head coach, we'll have a JV team."
  • Smith doesn't worry about momentum, he is concerned with execution and improvement as a team.
  • First caller asks about recruiting, specifically King Rice and Rick Fox. Interesting fact: Fox didn't play his senior season in Indiana. Smith said the other schools didn't want to play him.
  • Dean Smith said he would be watching tape of Clemson instead of the Super Bowl.
  • He thinks too much attention is given to college coaches and not enough is focused on the players. Smith said he turned down all endorsements preferring to see himself like a professor.
  • Was asked about NC State playing Kansas and who he would pull for. Smith said he always pulled for his former players who were head coaches so in this case Larry Brown.
  • Dean Smith was against freshman eligibility even in 1987. He felt it made them better basketball players but also better students.
  • Dave Popson was breaking 2x4s at the beach as a part of his strength building.
  • Boxing was his least favorite sport and he wondered if it had a place in society.
  • A caller asks about turning down players for academic reasons. Smith said they did that and even played against them who were really good basketball players but wouldn't get past admissions.
  • "I try to do what's best for the individual at least in recommending off the court. Once we get on the court I ask for sacrifice, what's best for the team."
  • "Let's say you are a business major and General Motors offered you half a million a year gauranteed for the next seven years and during that time you could go back and finish and get your degree I don't think your dad or someone would say you should stay in college."
  • Smith said he didn't want to see his players get injured and lose money but in most cases he had to talk guys into leaving.
  • Fun fact: Dick Vitale, when he was at Detroit asked for a game so they went up there and won. Vitale resigned after a year and the series didn't continue.
  • On why UNC didn't shake hands after games. It began under Frank McGuire and was done to avoid confrontation with opposing players or fans.
  • "Our seniors make about every rule we have and if they need help enforcing it we do"
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