The numerical record of Smith’s accomplishments is staggering. His
only losing season came in his first, and he left the game having
surpassed Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp as the winningest men’s
basketball coach in Division I history.
He led the Tar Heels to 13 ACC tournament championships,
appearances in 11 Final Fours, five national title games and NCAA
championships in 1982 and 1993. North Carolina won at least 20
games in each of his final 27 seasons and made 23 consecutive
appearances in the NCAA tournament.
“We have lost a man who cannot be replaced,” Duke coach Mike
Krzyzewski said. “He was one of a kind, and the sport of
basketball lost one of its true pillars. Dean possessed one of the
greatest basketball minds and was a magnificent teacher and
tactician. While building an elite program at North Carolina, he
was clearly ahead of his time in dealing with social issues.
I watched a ton of college basketball in the ’80s and ’90s. Smith’s UNC teams were always fun to watch. And no coach, ever, has been better at orchestrating last-minute comebacks.