Sportsman of the Year


  The Father of Invention: Seven Innovations

His records, his progeny—players and coaches—and the building named after him aren't Smith's only legacies. Here are seven changes he brought to the game.

1. GET ME OUT   During his first year as coach in Chapel Hill, Smith implemented a system in which a player could take himself out of a game when he felt tired and return when he had recovered. All he had to say to get back in was "Coach, I'm ready."

2. THE FOUR CORNERS   The Tar Heels were working on the delay passing game in practice in 1963, when point guard Larry Brown, instead of giving the ball up, took it in for a layup. The spontaneous strategy had worked well, and Smith began using it in games. North Carolina became so adept at the stall that the NCAA reacted by instituting a shot clock in 1985-86.

3. GATHER ROUND   Before a North Carolina player was to attempt a free throw, Smith had his players huddle at the charity stripe to talk strategy.

4. CALLING THE D   Smith was the first coach to employ a variety of defenses during one game. As a result, he asked his point guard to indicate the defensive set with a hand signal.

5. NO SWEAT   After noticing tennis players wearing wristbands to keep their hands dry, Smith ordered his charges to wear them-white at home, blue on the road-in 1967, long before they became a standard fashion accessory.

6. "GET A T-O!"   Whenever Carolina wanted to call timeout after a basket late in the game, all five Tar Heels would make the T sign over their heads to ensure that the referee wouldn't miss their intention.

7. GOOD LOOK   Smith always preached team play, so early in his career he instructed his players to thank the passer on every basket by pointing to him. The gesture is now replicated by players on every level of the game, as well as by many fans in the Dean Dome.  

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