UNC meets Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday night. It will be the first postseason meeting between the two teams since 1984. That season a 28-2 Tar Heel team which included Michael Jordan, Kenny Smith, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty and Brad Daugherty was ranked #1 and the top seed in the East Region. Indiana was the #4 seed led by Steve Alford. It was the second NCAA Tournament in three seasons between the two teams with the Hoosiers topping UNC in the 1981 NCAA Championship game.
The 1984 game has become somewhat legendary. For UNC fans the 1984 Tar Heels are considered the best Dean Smith team to never win a title. The eventual success of Michael Jordan as one of, if not the greatest basketball player ever plus the presence of Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith puts the 1984 team at the top of the list of unfulfilled Tar Heel dreams. Indiana would lose to Virginia in the East Regional Final and with titles in 1981 and 1987 this game and team essentially became a historical footnote. For now ESPN analyst Dan Dakich, a junior guard on the 1984 Hoosier team this win and his defensive effort versus Jordan became the sine qua non for his present notoriety not that he would ever mention it.
So with these two programs just days from meeting again, let's take a trip back to 1984 at The Omni in Atlanta aka the Tar Heel House of Horrors.
(Timestamps from Youtube)
0:10: Billy Packer is on the call. Didn't think I'd have to live through one of these again.
Kenny Smith has his wrist heavily taped. He broke it midseason after a hard foul from LSU's John Tudor.
0:25: Michael Jordan hits a baseline jumper for UNC's first points.
1:53 UNC gets the start it wanted. Kenny Smith forces a five second count and the Tar Heels force a turnover on the next possession. UNC fails to score off either with Perkins missing a free throw line jumper and then a hook shot.
2:09: Jordan scores his second basket in transition of a pass from Kenny Smith. UNC leads 4-0.
2:25: Jordan commits his first foul reach in from behind despite the fact Brad Daugherty had defensive position. Sure that won't be an issue later.
3:30: Packer says Daugherty got away with a walk because he's Packer. UNC then gets called for three seconds because they apparently used to do that.
4:10: Jordan called for a travel making a move. Packer says it's not, Jordan is so quick it looks like it.
7:52: The pace of the game picks up. Jordan pulls up and hits a shot but is fouled. The shot is waved off but probably should have counted. Foul was called on the floor so Jordan didn't get free throws.
14:27 left in the first half, game is tied at 8-8
8:10: UNC comes out of the timeout and runs motion offense for what seems like forever until you remember there isn't a shot clock. UNC works it until they get a shot which is missed by Perkins. Joe Wolf gets the rebound then Steve Hale misses a jumper and Wolf fouls going over the back. Already UNC has missed several open looks in a game the Tar Heels lost by four.
9:40: UNC presses and Indiana commits its fourth turnover. UNC can't cash in, Indiana hits on the other end to take a 10-8 lead. The Hoosiers would never tail again.
10:39: And you think Roy Williams' jackets now are awful. Check out Bobby Knight's.
10:48: Jordan's second foul was a terrible call. He went up to catch an alley-oop, two Indiana players came over and made contact, Jordan ended up on the floor and called for the foul. Billy Packer: "Hard one to understand there"
Jordan leaves the game and is replaced by freshman Dave Popson. UNC goes zone that leads to Indiana's 5th turnover.
15:15: Game getting ugly. Four straight possessions between the two teams, four turnovers. UNC is also shooting just 31% ten minutes into the game, Indiana shooting 63%.
15:40: Indiana goes up 14-9 on a jumper from Stew Robinson. When Indiana isn't turning the ball over they manage to hit shots. Given UNC's shooting and own turnover problems it could be a lot worse.
16:20: Question of why Jordan has stayed out so long comes up for the first of many times in the first half.
Indiana 16 UNC 11 9:17 left.
17:00: Announcer notes Jordan went out at the 12:45 mark and at the 9:10 mark wasn't back in. Packer says: "It's amazing how Dean Smith plays so many first halves to get to the second half...he substitutes so much in the first half, seems to be very patient with his team. But many times he get himself in a position where they are behind and he seems to be very calm about it."
That sounds familiar doesn't it?
19:02: Packer notes UNC not getting backdoor looks. Does feel like UNC is settling for jumpers. Buzz Peterson does hit one on the baseline to cut the Indiana lead to 18-15.
20:30: "They are going to have a tough time replacing Matt Doherty..." Things not said 19 years later.
21:20: In all seriousness, Doherty had a solid career as a player, something perpetually lost because of how his coaching tenure at UNC went.
21:53: UNC taps out a missed free throw. *drink*
22:41: The time left in the half is unknown but Indiana is shooting 67% while UNC is stuck below 40%. It should be noted much of this is happening with Jordan out of the game. Guess Dan Dakich did a good job guarding him while he was sitting beside Dean Smith.
22:35: Jordan reenters the game with 5:27 left in the half. He was out of the game for over seven minutes.
Jordan was 2-for-3 and had four points before he picked up his 2nd foul.
Indiana 22 UNC 20 4:48 left
26:00: Coming out of the timeout, Jordan is out of the game again. He basically came back in for less than a minute before Dean Smith pulled him out.
26:55: UNC still settling for jumpers. Steve Hale misses one on the baseline. On the other end, Indiana can't miss and takes a 26-20 lead.
28:36: Jordan comes back in with 2:53 left. Dean Smith continues to rotate players.
30:22: Jordan goes back out with about two minutes left. He basically came in for one defensive possession but taken out with UNC at the free throw line.
31:25: Indiana with nine turnovers but leading the game thanks to hot shooting.
34:00: Steve Alford hits a shot with two seconds left in the half with a foot on the NBA three point line. Even in 1984 UNC was giving up shots at the end of the half.
HALFTIME: Indiana 32 UNC 28
Jordan spent most of the half on the bench with two fouls I distinctly remember my father saying at the time UNC lost because Dean Smith held Jordan out of the game too much. Aside from that it was a clear case of Indiana shooting the ball extremely well in the first half and UNC not at all. There were not halftime stats shown but later the announcers indicated Indiana shot 61% in the first half. UNC was probably not better than about 40%. Part of UNC's problem in the first half offensively was not the defense of Dan Dakich but the Hoosier team as a whole. Indiana played man-to-man but packed it into the paint area and conceded jumpers. Getting the ball inside was tough, getting shots off inside was also tough. UNC couldn't run backdoor plays which were a staple of the Smith era and settled for jumpers which they didn't hit a high rate.
35:46: Dakich called for five seconds, Indiana's 2nd of the game and the Hoosiers' 10th turnover.
36:09: Doherty shoots a turnaround jumper in the post that is rolling around the rim but looks like it may stay down. Jordan crashes the boards and touches the ball in the cylinder negating the basket. That's the second potential basket UNC had waved off in a game the Tar Heels lost by four points.
36:20: LOL...according to Packer, Bobby Knight is chewing Dakich out for allowing Jordan to crash the boards there. Given Dakich's "defensive genius" he probably let Jordan go knowing he'd interfere with the basket(sarcasm)
37:58: Jordan hits a jumper with Dakich contesting. He has six points and is 3-for-4 from the floor. Indiana has 12 turnovers.
38:50: In a matter of seconds Dakich commits his third and fourth fouls of the game.
39:32: Daugherty hurts his hand going for a rebound and has to come out for Joe Wolf. Indiana commits another turnover.
40:23: Jordan commits his third foul going over the back of Dakich.
41:05: Daugherty getting ice on his hand and another Indiana turnover, 14 by my count.
43:08: Jordan misses a wide open shot on the baseline in transition. It rims out.
UNC gets the rebound with a chance to tie but a turnover leads to a fast break layup. Jordan turns it over on the other end and Indiana scores again to got up 40-34.
Two Perkins free throws cut the lead to four.
Indiana 40 UNC 36 14:14 left.
47:45: Jordan takes a contested jumper at the free throw line that rims out. Should be noted that Dakich stayed in the game with four fouls but Jordan didn't try to drive him(until much later) to see if they could get his fifth
48:55: Alford three point play puts Indiana up 45-38. This definitely feels like one of those games UNC simply couldn't get over the hump.
52:28: Indiana center Uwe Blab, pushes off to grab a rebound then flings it back up from 10 feet, it bounces all over the rim then falls in. It was that kind of game.
52:45: If you want to pick a point where Dakich started getting credit for Jordan it starts here. Jordan misses a contested jumper over two Indiana defenders. Perkins can't tip in the miss and Dakich grabs the rebound. Packer starts talking about Dakich's "gritty performance" saying he was keeping Jordan off the boards except Jordan was above the free throw line and didn't even make an attempt at the rebound.
53:21: Nine minutes left and UNC falls behind 51-43. With no shot clock and not three point line, it is starting to get dicey.
54:55: As the game moves under eight minutes, UNC is in real trouble. Blab misses two free throws but the Tar Heels gives up a rebound then an Alford basket. After a Tar Heel miss, Indiana scores again to go up ten points. Dean Smith calls timeout.
57:44: One bright spot, Perkins is 8-for-8 at the free throw line. He would finish 10-for-12.
57:50: With an eight point lead and no shot clock, Indiana is content to run as much clock as possible on the offensive end. That forces UNC to chase the ball which becomes exhausting. Indiana runs a minute of clock before Doherty fouls to send the Hoosiers to the free throw line.
1:00:11: Alford strips Hale then lays it up on the other end. Indiana now up by 12. Alford has 21 points.
1:02:05: Jordan finally scores on a dunk after UNC forces a steal. Tar Heels down nine with under five minutes left.
1:02:36: UNC presses out of the timeout down nine and Jordan picks up his fourth foul on..well...I'm not really sure what he did there.
1:03:20: Again Packer unduly credits Dakich for "keeping Jordan off the boards" when he actually doesn't. There is a long rebound which Jordan is positioned to grab. He gets his hands on it but it falls Doherty who scores to cut the lead to seven.
1:04:00: Indiana misses the front end of a one-and-one for a second straight possession. UNC comes down, dumps it in to Jordan in the post who drills a turnaround jumper in classic Jordan fashion which Dakich didn't bother to contest because (1) he had four fouls and (2) it was doubtful he could jump that high.
Jordan is now 5-11 from the floor with 10 points.The Indiana lead is down to five.
1:04:49: Indiana's Marty Simmons misses a third straight free throw and Bobby Knight rips his arms off in full view of everyone. Okay I made that last part up. All three were the front end of a one-and-one. Jordan demands the ball, goes at Dakich and is fouled. Dakich fouls out as Jordan heads to the line making 1-of-2 free throws to cut the lead to four.
Jordan's line when Dakich fouled out: 5-11 shooting, 10 points,
1:07:25: After Indiana missing another front end of the one-and-one, Perkins scores to cut the lead to 59-57.
1:07:50: The current head coach of the Tar Heels Roy Williams checks on the current head coach of UCLA Steve Alford after the later was knocked to the floor by a Steve Hale foul. Yes, everyone is old now.
1:10:05: Jordan has a free throw line jumper roll around the rim and fall off. Perkins makes just one of two at the line and UNC trails by three with 2:23 left.
1:11:10: UNC starts fouling with 2:21 left. Doherty fouls Mike Giomi who hits just one free throw to push the lead to four.
1:12:07: Jordan puts a ridiculous move on to get into the paint and score his final points as a Tar Heel. It cuts the lead to two. Steve Hale fouls out sending Alford to the line who makes both and puts Indiana up four.
1:13:51: Jordan takes his last shot, a contested one which misses long. Alford makes two more free throws to give him 27 points and put the Hoosiers up six.
1:14:50: Perkins scores and Dean Smith calls timeout to set up the press.
1:15:23: Jordan goes for a steal but is called for a foul, his fifth. He fouls out with 13 points on 6-14 shooting, one rebound and one assist.
1:15:44: Billy Packer questions the strategy to hold Jordan out so much in the first half. Jordan played just eight minutes in the first half and UNC trailed by four at the break. Since the Tar Heels ultimately lost the game by four, the decision to hold Jordan out may have been a huge factor.
1:19:10: Indiana misses two free throws and Perkins cuts the lead to 68-66 with 25 seconds left.
1:19:55: Blab is fouled and goes to the line. He makes the first which pushes the Indiana lead to three. Packer notes that the lead is now two possessions which sounds so odd now.
1:20:18: Joe Wolf's follow slam cuts the lead to 70-68. Doherty fouls Giomi with five seconds left. UNC's only hope is for Giomi, a 72% free throw shooter, to miss both shots.
1:21:41: Giomi makes the first which effectively clinches the game. He also makes the second for the final score of 72-68.
UNC lost the game for two reasons. The first is Indiana shot lights out. The Hoosiers shot 65% from the floor and hit 25-of-34 free throws. Steve Alford was a big part of that with 27 points and 9-of-10 shooting at the free throw line. The second factor was UNC shot poorly hitting just 42% with Indiana's overall team defense playing a role in that. Indiana did a great job cutting UNC off from the interior and also getting backdoor cuts or lobs. One of the few UNC did try led to the egregious second foul on Jordan which took him out of the game in the first half. Because Indiana was packing the lane, UNC settled for jump shots and those shots didn't fall. With Jordan out of the game for so long, UNC was left with Kenny Smith and his bad wrist plus a host of guards who were not nearly as good offensive options on the perimeter.
As for the Dan Dakich question, after all these years I think we know is to blame for hyping Dakich's individual defensive performance: Billy Packer. Twice in the second half Packer declared that Dakich was keeping Jordan off the boards when that simply wasn't the case. According to Packer it was a "gritty performance" and that Dakich did many things that didn't show up in the box score. Dakich eventually fouled out of the game. When he left Jordan had 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Jordan ended up with 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting in what turned out to be his final collegiate game.
Having seen the game I would say that Dakich's role on the defensive end is likely overblown, especially as it pertains to how this game was decided. Indiana's defensive scheme as a whole was a bigger issue for the Tar Heels and played a much larger role in UNC shooting 42% than just Dakich guarding Jordan. The Tar Heel guard playing just eight minutes in the first half, while not necessarily sinking UNC in a huge hole also may have cost the Tar Heels first half points which were precious in a four point loss. Then again maybe not. In the end it was "one of those games" where seemingly nothing went right. The shots fell for one team and didn't for the other. It's what makes the NCAA Tournament extremely frustrating for good teams which have stellar seasons ended prematurely in a one and done format. At the same time the upsets are what makes March mad.