I had a like/dislike relationship with Coach Smith. Relationship...no, that's not the right word. I never met the man. I coached youth basketball as a high school volunteer. My philosophy was shaped and most heavily influenced by John Wooden and Bob Knight at that time. As I learned more and more about the game and became more passionate and dedicated to it, Mike Krzyzewksi became more of an influence.
But the very first offense I taught my very first team was a version of Coach Smith's four corners. It was the absolute best way to teach kids basic fundamentals...ball skill, passing, floor balance, and spacing. The very first book I ever read on the technical aspects of the game, and how to teach them, was Basketball: Multiple Offense and Defense, written by Coach Smith and published in 1981. It still stands for me as the best book ever of its kind.
Coach retired from the game in 1997. At the time he was the winningest college basketball coach in the history of the game with 879 victories and a .776 winning percentage (879-254). He was named National Coach of the Year 4 times and ACC Coach of the Year 9 times. He is in sports Halls of Fame for the states of North Carolina and Kansas, for the NCAA, and for FIBA.
Coach led UNC to 11 Final Fours and 2 national championships. He led the USA to a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics. He won 17 ACC regular season championships and 13 ACC tournament championships.
He was a tremendous teacher of the game. His philosophy emphasized team over individual. He cared about the whole young man, not just the basketball player passing through his program.
He was not a perfect man. Who is?