Had the novel coronavirus pandemic not besieged the world, the southern part of heaven—like many college campuses—would be celebrating commencement this weekend. At UNC, commencement weekend also marks the alumni reunions for several anniversary years.
Each year for the past decade or so, I’ve assembled into a digital slideshow about 50 to 100 images from the “UNC Photo Lab” collection for the fiftieth anniversary class. Whenever possible, I’ve added images from the Hugh Morton and, more recently, the Durham Herald Company collections. The slide show is part of Wilson Library’s offerings for visiting alumni and anyone who happens to find themselves on campus that day. Each slideshow has been paired with a selection of songs drawn from the Southern Folk Collection for the same reunion year. Both run on a continuous loop through the afternoon. Also on display are the yearbooks for the featured reunion years. People wander into the building, have some cookies and a cold drink, and take in the architecture, the exhibitions, and our special slideshow and musical walk through memory lane.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary for the Class of 1970. With the campus closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, I was not able to go through the collections and select images for digitization. Graduation ceremonies are not going to take place, and the General Alumni Association’s weekend celebrations have been postponed. Not to be deterred, Wilson Library created an online version of our Wilson Library open house event. In some ways it is better because there is direct access to digitized issues of The Daily Tar Heel and Black Ink, neither of which would get placed on display due to the fragility of newsprint. The above photograph of Charlie Scott is featured in the online event because it is one of the few previously scanned photographs from the 1969–1970 academic year that I can access from home. In the online collection, there are four images from the contest between the Tar Heels and the Demon Deacons played on January 17, 1970.
A search through the Morton collection finding suggests that Hugh Morton was not on campus much during that academic year, and that he did not photograph many athletic events. He photographed the UNC versus NC State football game in Raleigh on September 20. The only other basketball games with photographs in the collection were the North Carolina State on February 9 (although there is a note in the finding aid that says “all same game?”), and the ACC Tournament in March.
Many UNC basketball fans are likely aware that ESPN has launched a ten-part documentary series about Michael Jordan titled The Last Dance. Episodes one and two debuted last Sunday; those will be re-run this Sunday, followed by the debuts for episode three and four. If you are a fan of binge streaming television shows, there’s four hours of immersion viewing for you right there!
I suspect you might be looking for other activities to keep you engaged with the world outside your stay-at-home location. To help you with that, Jack Hilliard and I would like you to share with the readers of A View to Hugh your favorite Michael Jordan photograph made by Hugh Morton. Which one is your favorite . . . and most importantly, why?
Please look through the 124 images of MJ in the online Morton collection, then pick your favorite and share in the comments. If you wish (so we can see the image), copy and paste the Reference URL in your comment. Here’s a screenshot with a red ellipse to help you find it:
Jack and I have picked ours favorites: mine is above, his is below. What’s yours? Please let us know in the comments section! (Please see note below about comments with links.)
When recalling Michael Jordon’s UNC accomplishments, my favorite Hugh Morton image of Jordan was taken on February 10, 1983 during a game against the University of Virginia in Carmichael. I think it is my favorite shot simply because it is a classic Jordan pose. It was a game winner, plus there is a beautiful Morton story behind the image. That story goes like this:
In early February, 1983 Morton got a call from C.J. Underwood, the longtime anchor and reporter at WBTV, Channel 3, in Charlotte. Underwood wanted to do a feature for his “Carolina Camera” news series about Morton and his longtime association with UNC sports. They both agreed that the UVA game on Thursday, February 10th in Chapel Hill would be a good time to meet and shoot the feature. As the teams warmed up for the game, Jordan came over to Morton’s court-side location, as he often did. During the course of their short conversation, Morton told Jordan about Underwood and the WBTV photographer shooting the feature. As the two parted, Morton said, as he always did, “Have a good game, Michael.” Following that fantastic shot, Michael, as he started back up the court, brushed by Morton and asked, “Was that good enough?”
Jack wrote about this photograph on A View to Hugh back in 2013, celebrating Jordan’s fiftieth birthday, in a post titled The Dunk for the Ages.
I picked my favorite Michael Jordan photograph simply because he still has that youthful look with his quick smile, which Morton captured despite it being a posed portrait. After looking into the background of the photograph, I came to enjoy it even more because yet another “Morton Mystery” emerged: the date of April 5, 1986 that has been provide in the online collection for years is likely incorrect. A quick check of the Chicago Bulls’ 1986 schedule showed the Bulls in Chicago playing Atlanta, not on the road in Philadelphia. Looking at the 1985 schedule revealed that the Bulls played the 76ers in Philadelphia a year earlier. That date made this a rookie-year portrait and a “sneaker” closeup of Jordan donning an early pair of Nike’s Air Jordan shoes. I love when looking deeper at a photograph unlocks more than meets the eye!
Clicking on the photographs above will take you to the records in the online database, where there are other image made on the same date. The description for the photograph I selected reads, “Michael Jordan tying his Nike shoes; picture probably taken in Philadelphia, while Morton was on assignment for the 1986 edition of the “Carolina Court” yearbook, published by Art Chansky.” Mr. Chansky: if you’re reading this . . . can you shed any light on the subject?
A Note About Comments with Links
To repel comment spam, we have a Comments Policy. Essentially, the blog software earmarks comments containing links with a Pending status. I’ll be monitoring routinely the Pending Comments folder and approving them periodically. There’s no need to resubmit your comment if it doesn’t appear right after you submit it. If your comment is lengthy, you may wish to type it elsewhere (like a word processor) then cut and paste it into the comment box . . . just in case.
On March 18th, 2012 Bill Richards, a colleague who worked in the library’s Digital Production Center, passed away unexpectedly while watching the Tar Heel’s basketball team defeat Creighton University in the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper. In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information. In 1998 he started working in Library Photographic Services, but continued shooting for Sports Information into the 2000s. I am dedicating this blog post, as I have each year since his departure, to Bill who, like Hugh Morton, was an avid UNC basketball fan. This year poses a bit of a challenge for this annual blog post: the NCAA Tournament has yet to begin. Where then shall we go to celebrate, Bill? I know . . . midwest!
Yep. it’s NCAA Men’s Basletball Tournament time. Were it not for two teeny tiny points, UNC might be heading up the East Regional bracket. Instead, the Tar Heels find themselves atop a different bracket farther west—the Midwest, to be exact. Haven’t we been here before? Yes, and just like this year, Carolina did not win the ACC Tournament played in Charlotte.
In the 1990 NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels took off for Austin, Texas as the bracket’s eighth seed. First up: ninth seeded Southwest Missouri State University (now known as Missouri State University). The Tar Heels handily beat the Bears by thirteen points, 83-70. Next on the docket: number one seed Oklahoma, ranked first in the nation in the final Associated Press Coaches Poll (through March 11) with its 26-4 record. By comparison, UNC with its 19-11 record was unranked—its worst season in twenty-six years despite defeating the fifteenth-ranked Duke Blue Devils twice during regular season play.
The limited time I have available does not permit me to recount the game’s highlights, but the photographs below tell some of the closing story. The first frame, Frame 24A, depicts the time out called by Carolina at the 0:39 second mark after Oklahoma’s William Davis converted his “and-one” free throw for a three-point play to take the lead 77-76. After the break, the Tar Heels struggled to make anything to happen. Dean Smith tried to get someone’s attention to call a timeout, but before that could happen, an Oklahoma player fouled King Rice with 0:10 on the clock. A timeout did take place, after which Rice tied the game by making his first “one and one” foul shot.
“Tied,” declared CBS play-by-play announcer Brent Musberger.
King’s second shot was off the mark, and the ball rebounded high off the rim. No one could reel in the rebound before an Oklahoma player knocked the ball out of bounds under the basket.
Dean Smith called for a timeout, during which he drew up a play designed to get the ball in the hands of Rick Fox, the Tar Heel’s three-point marksman with twenty-one points in the game to that point. Fox recounted after the game what Dean Smith told him during the timeout: “‘Rick, remember, we don’t need three. We only need one.'”
Fox got two, with a quick fake of a three and a drive down the baseline to make the layup with only one second remaining.
Morton’s second frame shows the outcome.
There are no negatives or color slides of the ensuing play, with no missing frames or 35mm color slides. But when the clock reached 0:00, Morton recorded the final score: UNC 79 Oklahoma 77.
Morton also shot a few frames of the celebration on court, then made his way to the locker room for the celebration.
The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament begins today and “March Madness” is on our doorstep. Once again the Atlantic Coast Conference is evenly balanced and is predicted to be a NCAA leader. There was a time before the conference was born, however, when basketball in North Carolina and the South was secondary to football. Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the man and the tournament that brought about the roundball prominence we see today.
I remember a time in 1954 when I was a freshman in high school and working for my dad at his drug store in Asheboro. He had just hired a guy named Johnny Campbell, an Army veteran who had recently returned from three years (1951–1953) in Germany and Korea. Campbell told me once that most everywhere he went, when people learned he was from North Carolina, they would say “NC State basketball, Everett Case.”
Coach Everett Case was a basketball visionary long before he came to North Carolina State in 1946. Back in his native state of Indiana, he was a legendary high school coach. When he arrived in North Carolina, football was king; Case, however, saw basketball as king, and he began to change the minds of fans across the state. He saw a partially built Reynolds Coliseum as an arena of 12,500 cheering fans.
In the beginning, Case recruited many out-of-state players, but he visited North Carolina high schools across the state, encouraging coaches and school boards to build better gym facilities so young boys could compete for basketball scholarships.
In his first season at State, the fire marshal canceled a game because people were spilling onto the floor and climbing in the windows of tiny Thompson Gymnasium. Case described that scenario in a 1964 interview: “We played our first games in Frank Thompson Gym, and had to cancel the North Carolina game when the students broke down the doors and the fire marshal wouldn’t let us play.”
That 1946–47 NC State team compiled a 26 and 5 record, and won the Southern Conference Tournament beating Maryland, George Washington, and North Carolina.
Then, it happened again during the 1947-48 season:
The fire marshal called off our Duke game in Frank Thompson Gym on the afternoon it was scheduled to be played. . . They said Frank Thompson Gym was a ‘fire hazard’ and wouldn’t let us play any more home games there . . . so we had to move into Memorial Auditorium.
State racked up an even better record of 29 and 3 during the 1947-48 season, and once again won the Southern Conference Tournament—this time beating William and Mary, North Carolina, and Duke. By the 1948-49 season, NC State basketball was becoming extremely popular, just as Case had envisioned, as they won yet another Southern Conference Championship.
NC State moved into the William Neal Reynolds Coliseum for their home games during the 1949–50 season, and saw the establishment of a holiday basketball tournament that quickly became the top sporting event in North Carolina. It was called the “Dixie Classic.” As Case said, “All the Big Four schools were tickled to get in on it . . . it meant some big pay-checks for them.” And as you might have guessed already, State won the first Dixie Classic as well as the 1949–50 Southern Conference Championship.
I recall seeing my first Dixie Classic. I had never seen anything like it. The house lights in the Coliseum were dimmed and a spotlight was turned on for the player introductions, and when it was all over the winning team cut down the nets. The names Dick Dickey and Sam Ranzino were fast becoming heroes for kids across the state.
Case’s 1950–51 team brought home another Southern Conference and a second Dixie Classic Championship, winning 30 games. Finally, during the 1952–53 season, Wake Forest nipped State 71 to 70 for the Southern Conference Championship, but State won its fourth Dixie Classic.
The 1953-54 basketball season in North Carolina brought a new conference to town: the Atlantic Coast Conference. NC State suffered two losses in the Dixie Classic—one to Navy and one to Wake Forest—but they won the first ACC Tournament Championship.
The 1954-55 Wolfpack continued their winning ways with the Dixie Classic and ACC Championships. It was ditto for the next two seasons, and it was beginning to look like Coach Case and his Wolfpack would dominate the ACC as it had the Southern Conference. But in 1956, the momentum was derailed when NC State was placed on a four-year probation by the NCAA. It was reported that an assistant coach and State’s assistant athletic director had given a Louisiana high school kid cash and gifts to entice him from his previous agreement to attend Kentucky. Case denied the charge, but the NCAA ruled that he knew about the gifts—which included a seven-year medical education. This became known as the Jackie Moreland case.
The 1956-57 NC State team lost to Wake Forest in the Dixie Classic and the ACC Tournament. The 1957-58 Wolfpack lost both tournaments as well, this time to powerful North Carolina, who compiled a 32-and-0 record and won the NCAA Championship.
Case and his Wolfpack came back to win the ACC Tournament following the 1958-59 regular season as well as the 1958 Dixie Classic, but lost both events in the 1959-60 season. There were no NC State tournament wins during the 1960-61 season. Following the season, it was revealed that at least four NC State players and possibly two UNC players had shaved points in order to shade the outcome of games, including at least one Dixie Classic game. Said Case, “it was a terrible blow to all of us here at State.”
The 1960 Dixie Classic was the last to be played, because things got worse. On Saturday morning, May 14, 1961, Lester Chalmers, Wake County’s district solicitor called UNC President Dr. William Friday to an an emergency meeting. Chalmers told Friday that a player’s life had been threatened by gamblers. “In our minds, we were dealing with protection of human life of an innocent college kid . . . you weren’t left with any alternative.” The UNC system imposed numerous sanctions on both UNC and NC State’s basketball programs and abolished the Dixie Classic.
Due to the scandals, State played fewer games during the 1961 through 1964 seasons, with no ACC Championships. By this time, Coach Case was in failing health, but he began the 1964–65 season even though he was suffering inoperable cancer. Two games into the season, he was unable to continue and turned the coaching over to assistant Press Maravich. When State won the 1965 ACC Tournament, Coach Case was taken in his wheelchair out to help the team cut down the net. A year later, Everett Case died and was buried in Raleigh’s Memorial Park. It was his wish to be laid facing US Highway 70 so he could “wave” to later NC State teams as they traveled to Durham and Chapel Hill.
In his time at NC State, Everett Case’s resume is like no other. He won 379 games, six Southern Conference Championships, four Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, and seven Dixie Classics. During his career the ACC named Case as its Coach of the Year three times. Through all those accomplishments, he brought big-time basketball to North Carolina and the South. Afterword from the Editor
In searching for images to illustrate this post, I’ve discovered that Hugh Morton images for the Dixie Classic and from the early years of the ACC Tournament are sparse. The earliest identified Dixie Classic negatives date from 1957 through 1959, while those depicting the ACC Tournament images date from 1958. Earlier images may exist, but the dates are uncertain. In fact, 1950s college basketball negatives by Morton are a relative scarcity. Many negatives listed in the finding aid for this decade are broadly categorized, such as “Old basketball negatives” or (take a deep breath . . . ) “College basketball, various (North Carolina State University vs. William & Mary, George Washington vs. William & Mary, North Carolina State University, Wake Forest, Greensboro, Maryland, other unidentified teams), 1940s-early 1950s.” Perhaps one day we’ll be able to sort out the images with a bit more specificity.—Stephen
As the 2010-11 college basketball season turned into that famous March Madness, it looked like Carolina might be headed to yet another final four. With wins over Long Island, Washington, and Marquette, they were in the “Elite Eight”® and playing Kentucky for another Final Four trip. It was Sunday afternoon, March 27, 2011 . . . Number 2 seed UNC against Number 4 seed Kentucky . . . at the 18,711-seat Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Woody Durham was calling game number 1805 as the Tar Heel “Voice.” The winner would capture the East Regional bracket and advance to the Final Four in Houston. A Tar Heel win would give Woody an opportunity to call his fourteen Final Four. But sadly for those of us listening to Woody and watching CBS Sports, it wasn’t to be.
The Tar Heel Nation was stunned as Kentucky came away with the win, 76 to 69. We didn’t know it at the time, but we suffered another loss that afternoon: it would be Woody Durham’s final play-by-play broadcast after forty years as the “Voice of the Tar Heels.” The official announcement came twenty-four days later. After calling 1,805 football and basketball broadcasts, Woody Durham was signing off.
From 1971 until 2011, Woody Durham was the soundtrack for Tar Heel football and basketball. During that span
the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association selected Woody as the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year thirteen times;
he was the voice for six national championship games and thirteen Final Fours;
he called twenty-three football bowl games; and
he interviewed six Tar Heel head football coaches and four head basketball coaches.
His game-day-preparation was legendary and his attention to detail with his color-coded information charts became famous. But Woody Durham was much more than the voice of his university. He often headed up life-long-learning programs for UNC’s General Alumni Association and was a program fixture during Graduation-Reunion weekend each May. He traveled across his native state speaking to Tar Heel alumni groups.
Following his retirement, Woody and his wife Jean attended most of Carolina’s football games, and were always seated in Section 212 Row C in the Smith Center for Tar Heel basketball games. Then, in 2015, Woody began to lose his ability to speak. The following year, came the diagnosis: Primary Progressive Aphasia. But as you might expect, Woody took up the cause and became a leader educating his many fans about the disease.
On March 7, 2018 came the news report that Woody had lost his battle.
I think UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams said it best when he issued this statement:
“It’s a very sad day for everyone who loves the University of North Carolina because we have lost someone who spent nearly 50 years as one of its greatest champions and ambassadors. . . . My heart goes out to Jean, Wes, Taylor and their entire family. . . . It’s ironic that Woody would pass away at the start of the postseason in college basketball because this was such a joyous time for him. He created so many lasting memories for Carolina fans during this time of year. It’s equally ironic that he dealt with a disorder for the final years of his life that robbed him of his ability to communicate as effectively as he did in perfecting his craft.
Woody Durham will forever be “THE Voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels.” Others will broadcast the games and will do a really good job, but Woody will be the one we all remember.
On March 18th, 2012 Bill Richards, a colleague who worked in the library’s Digital Production Center, passed away unexpectedly while watching the Tar Heel’s basketball team defeat Creighton University in the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper. In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information. In 1998 he started working in Library Photographic Services, but continued shooting for Sports Information into the 2000s. I am dedicating this blog post, as I have each year since his departure, to Bill who, like Hugh Morton, was an avid UNC basketball fan.
In 1975, the UNC men’s basketball team found itself in the NCAA Tournament once again—not because it was yet another year in a long string of consecutive appearances, but because the team did not make the big dance the previous two years. Charlotte hosted the East Regional games in 1973, which was the final year of the NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament; UNC, however, was MIA because they played in the NIT in NYC. There they finished in third place, making it to the semifinals but losing to Notre Dame 78–71, but defeating the other semifinal loser, Alabama, 88–69. The next year, 1974, also found the Tar Heels playing in the NIT, but they were one-and-done with an eleven-point loss to Purdue, 82–71 in their first contest.
UNC entered the 1975 NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament after capturing the ACC Tournament as the second seed with three narrow victories. They defeated, in order, seventh seed Wake Forest in overtime, 101–100; third seed Clemson in overtime, 76-71; and fourth seed North Carolina State, 70–66.
The 1975 NCAA Tournament was the first to field thirty-two teams without first round byes, and the second that officially determined the Division I champion. Two cities hosted the first round games for the East region: Charlotte and Philadelphia. UNC played its first round opponent, New Mexico State, at the Charlotte Coliseum on March 15. New Mexico State had finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference behind Louisville. Also playing in Charlotte that day was Furman University against Boston College. The winners of both these games would head to Providence, Rhode Island for the Eastern Regionals.
With the game just down the road, Hugh Morton was court-side in the coliseum with his camera, capturing Phil Ford, Mitch Kupchak, Mickey Bell, and Walter Davis on black-and-white film. Eleven negatives survive, five of which can be seen on the online collection of Morton’s photographs. The Tar Heels easily handled the Aggies, 93–69. Boston College was also victorious, defeating Furman, 82–76. Both victors headed off to the Ocean State for their Thursday Eastern Regional semifinals: UNC versus Syracuse and Boston College against Kansas State.
UNC and Syracuse hadn’t played against each other since the Tar Heel’s perfect 32–0 season in 1957. The twentieth ranked Orangemen from Syracuse upset the sixth ranked Tar Heels in a close game, 78–76. Boston College fell at the hands of Kansas State 74–65. Back then, the regional losers played a third-place game, so both teams hung around until Saturday, when UNC whipped BC 110–90.
Morton did not make the journey to Providence, so the only 1975 NCAA Tournament photographs in the collection are those from the first round game played in Charlotte. Correction 20 March 2018:The post initially stated UNC defeated number-one seed Maryland, 87–85 in the second round of the 1975 ACC Tournament. UNC defeated Clemson, 76–71, not Maryland. North Carolina State defeated Maryland, 87–85.
Morton, as you might expect, photographed the semifinals played between UNC and Virginia, and NC State and Wake Forest. As noted in the previous post in the series, the images from this ACC tournament are a bit scattered in the collection. Negatives and slides from March 7 are very scarce and can be found here in the collection:
Roll Film Box P081/35BW-17 (35mm black-and-white negatives)
Envelope 6.1.1-5-304: includes UNC vs. Virginia (5 negatives), but only four shots on the sidelines of a young person next to a water cooler, and a shot of the scoreboard showing a 72–72 tie with 0:22 on the clock, plus two frames during Dean Smiths’s press conference. There are no game action black-and-white negatives.
Slide Lot 009598 (35mm color slides)
UNC vs. Virginia (31 slides): Morton’s slides from this game are uncharacteristically under exposed.
Penciled into his calendar was a dinner with “Babb, Cookerly, Thigpen, Sachs” suggesting that the dinner gathering was planned after the initial entry of ACC in ink. I searched the collection finding aid and online images and found nothing. Does anyone know who these people were? With some more details we might be able to figure out if images exist under a topical description.
Sunday, March 8: “ACC”
Sunday morning at 9:30, Hugh Morton photographed fellow Wilmington native David Brinkley on the set of ABC News Washington. Photographically speaking it was the highlight of his day. That afternoon, UNC lost to NC State 68–67, and Morton’s 35mm slides were once again mostly underexposed. The day’s end? “Drive Gbo.” Unlike today’s digital days when you can instantaneously review your exposures on the back of your camera, Morton would’t know until after he sent off his film to be chemically processed in a lab and reviewed the results on his light table that he had underexposed his ACC tournament color slides.
UNC doesn’t always win basketball tournaments, and even Hugh Morton had a bad couple days court-side. Fortunately for us today, his trip to DC produced excellent results with several photographs of two of North Carolina’s most notable people of their time.
Today’s post is part two of a four-day, four-post series covering a trip Hugh Morton made to the Washington D.C. area between Wednesday, March 4 and Sunday, March 8, 1987. Part one of this series covered March 5th, when Morton photographed United States Senator Jesse Helms. Today’s post covers the March 6th, the first day of the 1987 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Friday, March 6: “ACC Landover”
As is the case today in 2018, March 6th was the first day of the 1987 ACC Tournament, played in Andover, Maryland at Capital Centre. Morton photographed the following game between Virginia and Georgia Tech . . .
and UNC’s matchup with the local favorite, Maryland.
Most of Morton’s work from this opening quarterfinal round has not been digitized. The negatives and slides in the collection for the various games of the tournament are a bit jumbled. Below is a list of black-and-white negatives and color slides for games played on March 6, excerpted from the Morton collection finding aid:
Roll Film Box P081/35BW-17 (35mm black-and-white negatives)
Envelope 6.1.1-5-302: Georgia Tech vs. University of Virginia (3 negatives)
Envelope 6.1.1-5-303: UNC vs. Maryland (6 negatives)
Envelope 6.1.1-5-304: includes UNC vs. Maryland (11 negatives). This envelope includes loose strips from all three days of the tournament.
Slide Lot 009600 (35mm color slides)
UNC vs. Maryland (3 slides)
Virginia vs. Georgia Tech (2 slides)
Clemson vs. Wake Forest (7 slides)
Duke vs. North Carolina State (5 slides of game action, 4 slides of post-game press conference—3 of NC State coach Jim Valvano and 1 with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski).
Sorting out the above was very confusing! Since I took the time to figure out what was what, I decided to record it here for anyone’s future reference. There were some errors in the finding aid, too, so I submitted corrections for those.
The 65th annual Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament will be staged in Brooklyn, New York beginning today, March 6th, 2018. The tournament will return to North Carolina next year when the event will play out in Charlotte. In 2020 the tournament will return to Greensboro for the 28th time, a series that began in 1967. Morton collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the ’67 UNC season and an ACC Tournament which was one for the record books.
Carolina’s 1966-67 basketball season got off to a routine start, but finished in a flurry of firsts. An eleven-point win in Chapel Hill against Clemson for the nineteenth straight time tipped off the season, but was hardly anything to write home about. Next was a trip to the Greensboro Coliseum for a thirty-point victory against Penn State, followed by seven straight wins—including a win at Kentucky and two more visits to the Greensboro Coliseum with wins over NYU and Furman. As the season played out, the Tar Heels lost only four regular season games, and they headed into the 1967 ACC Tournament as the regular season conference champion with an ACC record of 12–2.
For the first time since its beginning in 1954, the ACC played its conference tournament away from Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh. In 1966 the conference established a rotation arrangement for tournament hosts, electing to play the 1967 tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum—much to delight of UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith. Smith had favored a neutral site for the tournament and he thought Greensboro was a good fit, even though the coliseum, at that time, had 3,600 fewer seats than Reynolds Coliseum.
Coach Smith and his North Carolina Tar Heels came into the tournament as the number one seed. This was only the second time UNC had been seeded as tournament number one, the first time being the year of “McGuire’s Miracle” after the 1956-57 regular season.
Photographer Hugh Morton made the trip up from his home in Wilmington to document this first Greensboro ACC tournament. (Morton was a fixture courtside at the ACC Tournaments and much of his work can be found in the 1981 book The ACC Tournament Classic by Hugh Morton and Smith Barrier.) Currently there are sixteen photographs made by Morton during the tournament available for viewing in the online collection. The Morton collection finding aid indicates that thirty-four black-and-white and eight color photographs from UNC’s games versus North Carolina State, Wake Forest, and Duke.
Three days before the tournament, Greensboro Daily News sports editor Smith Barrier predicted Duke would take the tournament despite the fact that Carolina had beaten Duke twice during the regular season.
The 1967 ACC Tournament, the 14th annual event, tipped off at 1:30 PM on Thursday, March 9th with 8,766 fans watching South Carolina beat Maryland 57–54. Duke defeated Virginia 99–78 in the second afternoon game.
The first round evening game pitted North Carolina against North Carolina State—a game that turned out to be much closer than most expected. Since Carolina was 12—2 in the ACC and State was 2–12, most folks thought the Tar Heels would have no trouble. Head coach Norman Sloan and his Wolfpack had a different idea. At the half the score was tied at 26. Carolina was able to hang on and win 56–53. The second evening contest saw Wake Forest defeat Clemson 63–61 in double overtime.
On Friday, March 10th, the first semifinal game had Smith’s Tar Heels playing Jack McCloskey’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Wake led by four at half, 38–34, but thanks to Larry Miller’s 29-point-second-half, the Tar Heels came away with 89–79 victory. The second Friday game had coach Vic Bubas’ Duke Blue Devils beating coach Frank McGuire’s South Carolina Gamecocks 69–66 and set up a Duke–Carolina final.
UNC All American Larry Miller had cut out Smith Barrier’s newspaper column predicting a Duke championship, and on championship game day he put the clipping in his shoe.
At 8:30 PM on Saturday, March 11, 1967 it was the “Battle of the Blues.” Carolina, for the first time in the tournament, played like most Tar Heel fans thought the number one seed should play and led 40–34 at half. Thanks to Larry Miller’s 32 points, the Tar Heels held on to win 82–73, but the game was really closer than the nine point difference. Coach Smith got a ride on the shoulders of his winning players and called the Duke win “the greatest victory I’ve had as a coach.”
Miller took home the Outstanding Player award. Following the post game press conference, he presented the clipping to Smith Barrier. According to author Art Chansky in his 2016 book Game Changers, Barrier “took it in good spirit.” Sandy Treadwell, Managing Editor of The Daily Tar Heel wrote in the March 12th issue, “The Tar Heels ended a long road of twenty-eight basketball games. It was a road that took them into national prominence, and which last night earned them a ticket to the NCAA Eastern Regional Tournament in Maryland later this week.”
When the 14th annual Atlantic Coast Conference ended, a total of 35,064 fans had witnessed a tournament for the record books. Historians of the game went to work and discovered it was the first time that:
the conference played the tournament outside Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh. (The tournament hasn’t been played in Raleigh since 1966, but there is currently talk of playing the tournament, or part of the 75th anniversary tournament in Raleigh in 2028.)
the conference played the tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum. (Since then, Greensboro has hosted the tournament twenty-seven times.)
UNC’s Dean Smith won the ACC Tournament Championship. (Smith’s teams went on to win a total of thirteen ACC Tournaments before his retirement following the 1997 season.)
UNC had beaten the three other members of the “Big Four” (Duke, N.C. State, and Wake Forest) during an ACC Tournament—a fete that hasn’t happened since.
It’s often useful when researching Hugh Morton images to check his executive planners. I’ve used examples of this practice before, and for today’s post this tactic provided some insight into one particular journey in March 1987.
Wednesday, March 4: Drive Wash DC with Barrier
One of Morton’s two entries for March 4th reads, “Drive Wash DC with Barrier.” Henri Smith Barrier Jr. was a member of the UNC class of 1937—just six years ahead of Hugh Morton’s class of 1943—but he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1940 when Morton was a UNC student. Barrier was sports editor of the Concord Tribune, his hometown newspaper, for two years before he joined the Greensboro Daily News in 1941. Just six years before this road trip, in 1981, Barrier wrote and edited the book The ACC Basketball Tournament Classic that featured Morton’s photography. Barrier passed away a little more than two years after this DC journey on 2 June 1989.
Thursday, March 5: “Jesse Helms”
That’s Morton’s plain and simple entry, but why did Morton schedule a photography session with Jesse Helms? I suspect it was a self-assignment for his collaborative book with Ed Rankin titled Making a Difference in North Carolina. Rankin and Helms were roommates in 1941 when they were newsmen at The News and Observer and The Raleigh Times, respectively. In 1987 Helms was serving his third term as North Carolina’s senior United States Senator. The state’s junior senator was Terry Sanford, elected just a few months earlier in November 1986.
A caption in Making a Difference in North Carolina notes that one event Morton photographed that day was a confirmation hearing for Jack F. Matlock Jr. held by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Matlock was a native of Greensboro and a Duke University alumnus. From the extant negatives and slides, it appears Morton did not photograph Matlock. On another note of interest, Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator Edward Zorinsky, Democrat from Nebraska, died the next day, March 6th, at the 1987 Omaha Press Club Ball. In the photograph below, is that Senator Zorinsky on the right? It may be hard to tell for certain because there is not a full resolution scan online to zoom in and look more closely, so below is a cropped detail.
Another similar photograph for a different angle . . .
One photograph from the day serves as an excellent example of why photographic archives desire to obtain negative collections, not just photographic prints. Below is a photograph of Helms with Senator John Warner of Virginia as published in Making a Deference in North Carolina . . .
. . . and here’s a scan of the entire negative . . .
For the book, Morton decided to crop out Arizona’s senator John McCain.
Here’s another photograph from the day that’s not in the online collection:
I recognize Helms (left) and Dan Quayle (center). Want to try your hand on the others?
ADDITION made on 8 March 2018: negatives depicting West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd appears in some of the negatives made on this day, but I did not use one for this blog post. I noticed afterward, however, that there is a separate listing for three 35mm negatives in the Morton collection finding aid for Robert C. Byrd made on March 5, 1987 (the date in the finding aid is March 6th) in Envelope 2.1.48-5-1.