UNC-Duke Basketball, Food and Managers


The beauty of having your own blog is that you get to make the rules, so you don’t necessarily have to stay totally on topic. Thus, on the day before the first Duke-UNC basketball game of the year, I’ll show my true colors.

I was a manager with the UNC basketball team from 1981-1985. I spent the first two years primarily with the junior varsity team. There were six of us JV managers, and we were essentially in competition for one varsity spot. We had to hustle out on the floor to wipe up sweat after a player fell. We had to set up the locker rooms before the varsity games. We kneeled behind the benches, usually right behind the coaches’ seats. We wiped the sweat of their chairs after time-outs. I even got on TV a lot, noticing at one point the camera was on me (well, actually, Dean Smith, but I was right behind him). I waved and said “Hi, Mom.” I got called up to Coach Smith’s office the next day, with him telling me, “I’m glad you love your Mom, Dean, but we don’t do that here.” Ouch.

Well, no varsity spot opened up my sophomore year (long story), so I was made “head JV manager.” Now in many ways, that might be equivalent to head fry cook at the McDonald’s (see, I had a food reference here), but the head coach of that JV team was Roy Williams. You might have heard of him, as he’s moved onto bigger and better things. I got to know Coach Williams really well that year, as we spent a fair amount of time on run-down buses. Coach Williams was not much of a food guy. When some of the players were complaining about getting snacks of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of roast beef, Coach Williams told them how PB&J was pretty dang good when he was growing up and that they needed to shut up or they’d just get PB with no J.

Anyhow, I moved onto the varsity team my junior and senior years, where I was introduced to “the big time.” See, I had never even flown on a plane before I went to college. I never had eaten Mexican or Chinese food. When I joined the basketball team, I got to see the world: Greece, Japan, Hawaii, California, New York City and even Pine Bluff, Arkansas! I ate calamari for the first time in my life with Michael Jordan at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens (Michael loved the calamari until someone told him what it was). I drank too much ouzo with Joe Wolf and Matt Doherty in Thessaloniki (where Joe promptly hurled into the back seat of a taxi cab). I experienced a truly authentic shabu shabu in Tokyo and frogs legs in Baton Rouge. So, much of my love of food came from my days with the UNC basketball team. Oh, the stories I could tell (and maybe I will)!

But the reason for this post has nothing to do with food. It has everything to do with “The Game.” And this time, I’m not talking about Tyler Hansbrough and Gerald Henderson in the major smackdown. I’m talking about the UNC managers versus the Duke managers. It seems the managers have started a game of their own, which was reported today in the N&O, and Duke is sort of dominating the Tar Heels. It seems that Duke managers are generally former high school basketball players. In my day, the UNC managers were marginally athletic, but damn, we could keep stats with one hand and wipe up sweat with another. (Although managers did have to run a mile in less than 6 minutes. I think I still hold the record for making it by the narrowest margin: 5 minutes, 59.97 seconds. I sprinted to the finish line, where I collapsed. Dean Smith walked over, looked down at me, and said, “You sure had a lot left in you at the end, Dean. I wouldn’t want my players to hold back that much.” I wanted so badly to vomit all over his Converse sneakers, but I couldn’t.)

I suspect things haven’t changed much at UNC, and as a result, Duke usually wins these games by 20 points or more. I also wonder why the heck Duke has 12 — TWELVE — managers, while Carolina only has six. It takes a village, I guess.

I’d love to go to the next game and root on the boys in baby-blue, but they play late at night — like 11:45. And the game is open to invitees only, although I suspect I could nab an invitation. That might be the only way to get a ticket to a Carolina-Duke game, I suspect. Or maybe they could have a managers’ alumni game, and I could revisit my glory days. And probably end up wanting to throw up on a coach’s shoes again.

Go Heels!


11 Responses to UNC-Duke Basketball, Food and Managers

  1. MB says:

    I have a game for you Dean. Let’s see who can spot the UNC graduate’s typo first. Oh wait, a former girl athletic trainer has already found the typo. 🙂

    Also, was the ouzo consumption okay with the UNC athletics department? You could have thrown that up on Coach Smith’s shoes instead. Now, that would be a story!

  2. Varmint says:

    Geesh, I write several paragraphs in 10 minutes or so and get hounded by the typo police. Actually, there were two typos, and there might be more. Maybe I’ll make a point of having at least one typo in every post, just for fun. See who can find it first!

    Anyhow, we were in full compliance with all local laws when we were in Greece. And when in Greece, . . . .

    What was amazing about my post was that I never mentioned how I beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. But I’ll save that for another day.

  3. In the game of life, I’ll take typos and being on a first name basis with Carolina greats, thanks. Love the blog (and anyone who can cook a pig!)

  4. Raisin' Heel says:

    I was invited by one of the managers to come to the game last night, and wanted to give my report. Despite our cheering on the sideline, which seemed to get to the Dookies at first, they came out on top by 15 points or so. To be fair, though, they only had six players to our eight or nine…I don’t know where all our guys came from. Real game’s tonight, though, and revenge is sweet.

  5. Varmint says:

    Man, I wish I could have been there. I think we’ll need to start recruiting more athletic managers! Thanks for the report.

  6. Moose says:

    Such an athletic past, Dean!

    My story: I sent Coach Williams a copy of my first cookbook, “Deviled Eggs.” On page 39 was a recipe that I reluctantly and regrettably titled “Blue Devils” (it contained blue cheese, sort of obvious choice of name). Never thought he even saw the thing, I just sent it for the heck of it. I met him some months after and when I said my name, he stomped his foot, pointed at me and said, “I know who you are. You sent me that cookbook and I SAW that page 39.” I was truly frightened and begged his forgiveness.

    If you see a 51-year-old woman in the stands tonight, strutting like Mick Jagger and making an idiot out of herself, that’s me.

  7. Varmint says:

    I’ll be there, too, Debbie. Go Heels! And I had those eggs. Worst things in the cookbook! 😉

  8. Varmint says:

    ugh. That game left me without an appetite.

    But hey, we’re now in the Year of the Rat, or as we UNC fans say, the Year of Coach K. Same difference. 😉

  9. Susan says:

    Uh – I was there as well. And I agree with the sentiments………..

  10. Joe says:

    I had a dream last night that I was fired from something by… Dean Smith. It was horrible. I blame you. 😉

  11. Sandy says:

    If Roy Williams won two national chiaoipnshmps and 250 games in the next 10 years then yes you would have to consider him in this conversation. The wins won’t be a problem, it’s whether or not he has 10 more years in the tank.It’s not just that Coach K has 4 national chiaoipnshmps, it’s also the fact that by the end of 2010 he’s going to have more wins than Dean Smith. He’s only 12 behind now. Smith reached 879 in 36 years and next year will be Coach K’s 36th.So if you make the assumption that Duke can win 12 games next year (even you Heelsfan you concede that), then Coach K will become second all-time in both wins and chiaoipnshmps. (He would be 23 wins behind Bobby Knight; who coached 42 seasons. That record should easily drop by the end of 2011. And he would be tied at 4 chiaoipnshmps with Adolph Rupp and 6 behind John Wooden).You’ve read my feelings on Rupp and Wooden’s chiaoipnshmps; did you know UCLA only had to win TWO games to make the Final Four each of its 10 championship years. You also know how I feel about the way they ran their program. Duke has been clean for the 30-years Coach K has been around.So Heelsfan, if it’s not Coach K then who is it? I cant see where people are saying John Wooden, but even if I conceded that notion Coach K has to be number 2.

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