For North Carolina Coach Dean Smith, it was another finals week to weep over. He did everything possible to keep his players' minds on the semifinal game against Florida State and not have them looking ahead to UCLA. The No. 2-ranked Tar Heels practiced at Pepperdine instead of the Sports Arena. (Not even Pepperdine plays at Pepperdine.) They kept their watches set on Eastern Standard Time. They ate the right foods, drank plenty of liquids and wore nice blue blazers—only to be ripped apart by a case of Petty larceny.
"We live on quickness but Florida State is quicker," a concerned Smith said before the game. "Mr. Petty goes beep-beep and it's all over."
How true. Otto(mobile) Petty, all 5'7" of him, entered the game for the Seminoles midway in the first half and North Carolina never even heard the beep-beep. A wisp of a player who zips in and out of graffic as his nickname suggests, Otto went into high gear immediately. He took his tall and speedy teammates from a one-point lead to a 45-32 halftime margin as the Heels tottered into their traditional NCAA collapse.
When Petty wasn't deflating the Carolina pressure defense, he was feeding Ron King and Reggie Royals for points. Florida State soon led by an astounding 23 of them.
Suddenly Carolina woke up and turned things around. Robert McAdoo, who played the game of his life, started the rally only to foul out on a curious pushing call when he had bodies ail over his back. Still the Tar Heels came on with Dennis Wuycik throwing them in from his socks.
They came to 70-65 before Florida State's Durham called time with 5:13 left to switch his Seminoles into a zone. Against this strategy Carolina had four different chances to cut the lead some more but blew every one. When Kim Huband, the team's best outside shooter, came off the bench to take an open 15-footer and hit only oxygen, the Tar Heels were finally dead by 79-75.
And so here came Hugh Durham and Florida State into the national championship game. This was a Florida State that had been on probation so long the players' wrists were still yellow from the cuffs. A team which, back-to-back, won a game with 134 points and lost one with 10. A former girls' school, Florida State lost that 30-10 forfeit to Hawaii and won what could be a swan song over Adolph Rupp. It was practically booked and fingerprinted in the NCAA "affidavit" fiasco of two weeks ago. With nine blacks and another player nobody was sure of because he tied his hair in knots and went under the name of "Cochise," the Seminoles were—yuk, yuk—the dark horses of the tournament. The whole thing was just too much for Bill Wall, the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. At midday on Friday, Durham—on the verge of his finest moment in the profession—got hit between the eyes.
At a press conference Wall, the coach at tiny MacMurray, spoke about the many and admitted ills of the game. And then he blasted Florida State. In a series of remarks that can only be called ill-advised at best, Wall referred to Durham as the coach who "has been caught with his hand in the till twice. I resent the fact that they are here," Wall said. "The coaches are amazed, disgusted and disillusioned." Wall apparently was talking about recruiting violations that had put Florida State on probation the previous three seasons.
Durham, whose school is considering a lawsuit, said only that he would "not get down to Wall's level," and at Friday's afternoon practice session UCLA's Wooden consoled him.
"I'm sorry about all this," Wooden said. "I want you to know we don't feel the same way."