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11 North Carolina
Tim Crothers
December 02, 1996
"What record?"
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December 02, 1996

11 North Carolina

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"What record?"

That's how North Carolina coach Dean Smith responds to questions about his pursuit of college basketball's alltime victory record. Smith, who needs 26 wins to reach 877 and pass Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp's mark, suggested to his players in October that they should answer any inquiries about the record by changing the subject. Nice try, coach.

"I can't wait for that night because I know the whole world will be watching," says sophomore forward Antawn Jamison, not changing the subject. "Everybody on this team wants to be a part of history, part of a feat that might never be erased from the record books."

It's a testament to Smith's adaptability to a changing world that he built his remarkable success with players such as Phil Ford and James Worthy from Tar Heel towns like Rocky Mount and Gastonia. yet he takes aim on the record with a senior from Maassluis, the Netherlands (Serge Zwikker); a sophomore from Nigeria who grew up in Berlin ( Ademola Okulaja); a freshman from Sofia, Bulgaria (Vasco Evtimov); and a junior transfer who's from Dakar, Senegal (Makhtar Ndiaye). �'There's about a dozen languages in our locker room," says Zwikker, the 7'2" non-flying Dutchman. "Sometimes it sounds like the United Nations in there."

This isn't to say that there aren't a few Tar Heels who were made in the U.S.A. Jamison, from Charlotte, led the ACC in field goal percentage (62.4%) and offensive rebounds (119) last season and was the first North Carolina player ever selected first-team all-conference as a freshman. Swingman Vince Carter, a '94-95 consensus high school All-America from Ormond Beach, Fla., returns after a disappointing freshman year; Smith believes Carter will have a breakthrough season. But the most important returnee may be Carolina's scramble defense, which Smith virtually abandoned during the last two seasons because his team lacked the necessary depth and quickness.

The key question is who will replace point guard Jeff McInnis, who left after his junior season and now plays for the Denver Nuggets. Freshman Ed Cota is the playmaker of the future, but the immediate successor looks to be junior Shammond Williams, who has his own Web site, Shammond's World (http://www.unc.edu/~shammond), where he fields queries from E-mailers about whether he can lead the team to the historic 26th win and maybe even an NCAA title. "Everybody on this club wants the record and a ring," Williams says. "We may be from exotic places all over the globe, but eventually we all want to end up in the same place."

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