happens against Maryland, you're going to see us play very tense and with a lot
of emotion, the way we did last year," said Towe. "We'll do the extra
things to win."
Near the end of
the season rumors popped up that Wolfpack players were at each other's throats.
"That's not right," protested Towe. "If anything, we're closer than
ever because of having gone through tough times." State indeed was inspired
and cohesive against Maryland. Thompson scored 30 points in 27 minutes, and
Towe directed the offense and played his usual sniping defense as the Pack
edged ahead. Then, with about 10 minutes left in the game, Thompson fell to the
floor, his legs knotted with severe cramps. Despite his absence, State built a
15-point lead with less than four minutes left.
woke up. The Terps went into a pressing defense, picked up turnovers as if they
were jelly beans spilling from a sack with a hole in it and also got the ball
when State squandered four straight bonus free-throw opportunities. With nine
seconds to play, Maryland's Mo Howard put in two free throws and Maryland had
an 85-84 lead.
When State came
down for its final shot, Rivers went up for a hurried jumper, spotted Carr
underneath and fed him a pass. Carr put in the layup, was fouled and made the
free throw for an 87-85 victory that sent Maryland home to think about next
During the Tar
Heels' 76-71 victory in the other semifinal game, Ford tap-danced his way
through the Clemson defense and dropped in 15 of 18 free throws. Last year he
scored 48 points in one half of a high school game, but friends say that last
summer, seeking perfection, he practiced 12 to 15 hours a day at his home in
Rocky Mount, N.C.
The son of
schoolteachers, Ford is a good student. "You can tell him something once
and he picks it right up," says the coach. It also helps that Ford often
goes over to the Carolina gymnasium late in the evenings to practice some more
as good as Ford tend to get submerged in Smith's system. Billy Cunningham,
Charlie Scott, Bob McAdoo and Bobby Jones all blossomed after they reached the
pros. Smith substitutes freely, running in a complete new team at times, and
spreads the scoring around. "The pressure's not on me at all because we
have other guys who can score," says Forward Walter Davis, the team's best
Davis is a
sophomore, another member of Smith's Kiddy Korps, and when he enrolled at North
Carolina some people predicted he would be another David Thompson. Smith
astutely responded by putting Davis on the junior varsity during preseason
drills his freshman year.
Last week he was
on Thompson, and State's ailing star made only seven of 21 shots and had just
five rebounds. "He was off," said Davis in sympathy. "If he hadn't
been hurting, those shots would have gone in, and then everybody would have
said I played bad defense."
rebounding also was diminished when Spence picked up his third foul early in
the first half. The Wolfpack was left with only young Carr to go against North
Carolina's big three of 6'9" Mitch Kupchak, 6'10" Tom Lagarde and
6'10" Ed Stahl. By halftime the Tar Heels had made 15 of 24 field-goal
attempts and led 41-35.