I’m heading up to Brooklyn this morning for the ACC tournament, which began there on Tuesday, and already there have been stories about how this is a fitting site for the tournament, given the ACC’s deep basketball roots in New York City.
Frank McGuire, the first North Carolina coach to lead the Tar Heels to sustained national prominence, was born in New York City. Jim Valvano, the N.C. State coach who led the Wolfpack to the 1983 national championship, was born in Queens.
Some of the ACC’s best players are from the New York City area. For UNC, though, the ties to New York perhaps run deeper than any other ACC school. There’s the connection to the city through McGuire, who preceded Dean Smith.
But then there are all the players, too, so many that it’s possible to make a UNC all-star team, of sorts, comprised only of natives of New York City or one of its boroughs (namely Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx). Here is one such team: UNC’s All-New York team.
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The only rules to be a member: The player had to be really good. And he had to consider New York his hometown (so no Michael Jordan, a Wilmington native who was born in Brooklyn before moving to North Carolina). Here’s the team:
PG: Ed Cota
At UNC: Started on three Final Four teams (1997, ’98, 2000) and is the only player in NCAA history with 1,000 points and assists and 500 rebounds.
SG: Kenny Smith
At UNC: Consensus first-team All-American in 1987 after leading UNC with 16.9 points and 209 assists; averaged 12.9 points and 6 assists during his four years with the Tar Heels.
SF: Charles Scott
Hometown: New York
At UNC: Two-time first-team All-American (1969, ’70), and three-time All-ACC selection. Scoring average of 22.1 points tied for third in school history. UNC’s first black scholarship athlete.
PF: Billy Cunningham
At UNC: 1965 ACC Player of the Year and a three-time All-ACC selection; averaged 24.8 points and 15.4 rebounds during his three varsity seasons.
C: Lennie Rosenbluth
At UNC: Single-season (28.0 in 1956-57) and career (26.9) scoring average leader. National player of the year in 1957, leading UNC to undefeated national championship season.
Jimmy Black (Bronx), G: Starting point guard on 1982 national championship team.
Pete Brennan (Brooklyn), F: Second-leading scorer on 1957 title team, 1958 ACC Player of the year.
Bill Chamberlain (New York), F: MVP of the NIT in 1971.
York Larese (New York), F: Three-time All-ACC selection from 1959-61.
Doug Moe (Brooklyn), F: One of seven UNC players to average double-double (1959-61).
Joe Quigg (Brooklyn), F: Center on ’57 title team, made game-winning FTs in OT.
Brian Reese (Bronx), G/F: Starting small forward on 1993 national championship team.
So there you have it. It’s a little bit frontcourt-heavy, especially among the reserves. And this is a team, too, that would be starting two point guards in Cota and Smith. But that’s not a bad strategy, as UNC coach Roy Williams will tell you, and Cota and Smith would form a dynamic backcourt.
This is a team that, with each of these guys in their prime, could do some damage in March. Or on a New York City playground.