His final game against Vriginia behind him, Al Wood, North Carolina's star forward, talked today about how he and his teammates felt when they heard that Virginia Coach Terry Holland had named his dog "Dean Smith."
"I think that's pretty low class to name your dog after one of the most prominent coaches in America," Wood said after scoring 39 points to lead the Tar Heels to a 78-65 victory over the Cavaliers in the NCAA semifinals. "What really upset me was reading that he chose the name because the dog whined all the time. We certainly don't think of Coach Smith that way. We never talked about it among ourselves but we looked at it as one thing: a great big insult.
"During this week we didn't have to talk about it; we knew. We didn't want to lose to this team three times and hearing that stuff about Coach Smith helped us get ready. We couldn't have been much higher than we were today. The whole thing upset everyone. I know it."
Holland and Smith exchanged a quick handshake and no words at game's end but Hollard did visit the Carolina dressing room to congratulate Sam Perkins for his play against Ralph Sampson.
Naturally, there was talk about Smith's decision to go to Carolina's modified spread offense -- the four Cs -- with seven minutes left. The Tar Heels had blown big leads in their first two games with Virginia this season by going to their delay.
Smith made note of that in his press conference. "We would have set a world record for letters if it hadn't worked this time."
Asked how many letters he had gotten after the last Virignia game, Smith held his hand out at thigh-level. "About this high. And you watch, won't get one letter this time saying, 'Nice going coach, you made the right move.'"
Smith said he thought about the previous two Virginia games before he ordered the delay offense. "I was kidding with (Assistant Coach) Eddie (Fogler) just before I made the move. I told him, 'Watch this, we're going to show them some courage now.'
"We were going to go to it anyway. I wouldn't change my strategy because of the past."
The final four is often a place for reunions. One that was particularly poignant reunited former Maryland player Maurice Howard and Dave Pritchett, former Terrapin assistant coach.
Howard lives in Philadelphia and is reportedly in line to become communications director at the Spectrum. Pritchett has been working as a scout since recovering from stress that was serious enough to force him to resign as head coach at Davidson.
Pritchett and Howard were close at Maryland and when they bumped into each other outside the Spectrum Friday they hugged one another, and spent several minutes reminiscing.