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Steve Kirschner, UNC Athletics, talks to Adam about his new book which goes down memory lane of an exciting, recent UNC basketball season.

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
The Truth Network Radio
October 25, 2022 6:02 pm

Steve Kirschner, UNC Athletics, talks to Adam about his new book which goes down memory lane of an exciting, recent UNC basketball season.

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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October 25, 2022 6:02 pm

Steve Kirschner, UNC Athletics, talks to Adam about his new book which goes down memory lane of an exciting, recent UNC basketball season. Adam kicked the interview off by putting Steve straight in his feelings, unintentionally.


On this day in 1986, it was game six of that World Series.

Mets over the Red Sox. So we talked to my friend Kanata Edwards earlier and not as a Mets fan. I'm a Mets fan and he was sort of commiserating about the Mets demise in the postseason this year and here we go. We can reminisce about 1986.

Speaking of reminiscing, I don't know where seasons that don't end in championships rank, but I can't imagine a better one than North Carolina men's basketball had a year ago. There was a new book out called Together, the Amazing Story of Carolina Basketball, the two 2021-22 season. Steve Kirschner works for UNC. He's one of the authors of the book and it's my opportunity to talk to Steve Kirschner on the radio.

So I'm taking advantage of it. Steve, how are you? Well, I'd be better if not for that introduction about the 86 Mets game knowing you know how much I'm a Red Sox fan as I am. I cannot believe you did be wrong like that at the start of this segment. That was, that was not, well I'm not gonna say it wasn't, it wasn't planned, but I knew what I was, but I knew what I was doing when I saw, when I saw, I didn't want this to be all fun and games, Steve. I was like, you know, when the ball went through Buckner's legs, I was in my dorm room, Lafayette dorm in Storrs, Connecticut and I fell into some sort of like catatonic trance for like two hours and every Mets fan on the UConn campus came by my door and was like rubbing it in my face and I don't really remember it because I was just like out of it for about two hours. So I was also in my dorm at the University of Maryland and my best friend, one of my best friends is a Red Sox fan and I had just congratulated him at the beginning when there were two outs and nobody on. I had just congratulated him being that, you know, the nice guy on winning their first World Series in 70 some odd years and, and of course we all know what happened that you still had to win game seven, but I never mind. You don't want to talk about that and that's fine. I'm sorry, sort of, that I brought it up.

So let's talk about all right. Let's talk about the book because I think experiencing last year's Tar Heel run in real time was, and I'm, I'm no longer as close to basketball as I used to be. I became the hockey guy, so I stopped covering the regular season of basketball. Still cover the tournament, but I stopped covering the regular season.

So I am curious. I have always hung, like, my opinion of that team on the fact that when you guys went to Winston-Salem in the middle of the year, I think it was either late January or early February, probably late January, you went to Winston-Salem and got blown out and Hubert, Hubert Davis came out of that game and said, we're not as good as them. So what was the turnaround from that moment on? And there were some downs, but what was the turnaround from that moment on? It was mid-January and it was probably the turnaround and this is according to the players whose opinion mattered most.

Yes. But the turnaround was probably the very next day at practice because not only had we lost at Wake Forest by 22 in a game that felt like 32, but we had lost the previous game at Miami by 28. So we had lost back-to-back games by 50 points and we were reeling and we had lost big to Kentucky and to Tennessee, you know, a month, month and a half before that. So it was concerning, but the person who handled it the best was Hubert because what he told the team the next day, the team thoroughly expected to, you know, look like a track team the next day in practice and just run all day and get yelled at and be told how bad they are. And instead what Hubert did was he gathered the team together and said, guys, you know, you're not a bad team. We had a bad week. We had a very bad week and it can't continue, but you're not a bad team.

You're a good team, but you have to start playing like it. And I remember the players said they all kind of look at each other like, okay, well, when does he go wacko? And he didn't. And the faith that he had in them helped them. Yeah, it was. It was a historically bad week. I mean, not many teams, certainly not our teams, have lost consecutive games by 50 points and gone on to do the things that they did later in the season. So the way he managed that, that particularly that week was really telling.

Steve cursor is joining us from North Carolina and the author, one of the authors of together, the amazing story of Carolina basketball 2021 and 2022 season. Alright, so did he ever did Hubert ever go berserk ever at any point? Oh yeah, he'll go berserk every now and then. He does it minus profanity and he does it in a way. I like how he phrases it. He says I, I, I, when I, when I do go like that, it's to lift them up, not to tear them down, that he played, he played 12 years in the NBA. He played here and he understands how what a coach says, how that can play on the psyche of a team or an individual.

And he says, when I, you know, when I yell at him, I yell at him to raise him up. And so he raised him up a lot of times last year. Um, and, but it paid off in the long run because we got better. And I think, you know, nine years on the bench with coach Williams, I think he saw firsthand. Most of the time our teams did get better over the course of the year and losses in November, you have to learn from them, but you also have to move on from them and build towards your season because at a program like North Carolina's, um, you're, you're going to be judged.

Yes. You're going to be judged by your final record, but you're going to be judged by what did you do in March? What did you do in April?

Did you get to April? Did you have a chance at the end of the season to make a run? And that's the beauty of the NCAA tournament is it's three weeks, it's six games and you can get hot in the tournament. Coach Smith always used to talk about teams built momentum in the tournament.

And I asked you about that question for the book. I said, do you agree that that like with coach Smith said the teams build, he said, well, generally yes, but not last year. The 2122 team actually started building momentum after we lost a pit. So the other turning point in the season was we got blown out by pit and that's one of the, my cautions of this year is I'm like, you know, people before you all anoint us remember in mid February, we were down 20 in the first half to pit and no disrespect to pit, but they didn't win another game the rest of the year. It ended up being, I think, an eight or nine point win here in the Smith Center. But the next game was huge because the next game was in Blacksburg and it was against a hot Virginia Tech team. I think they'd won six out of seven and it was coming off the loss to pit. We've been blown out by Duke maybe 10 days before the pit game.

So there wasn't a whole lot. There weren't a whole lot of people saying, oh, yeah, North Carolina is going to go to Blacksburg and win. And we played one of our most complete games to that point in Blacksburg and Kayla played a great game among others. And I think the fact that we went into a hostile environment and Castle, that is a difficult place to play.

Great place. And they were, they were hot and we won the game and it wasn't a fluke. It wasn't a last second shot. So in Superts Point, we started building momentum then and we won an overtime, we won an overtime game with Syracuse to end the regular season. And of course we won the game in Durham at the end of the regular season. And we, he thinks we were gassed up in Brooklyn. We just ran out of, we just, we, you know, playing five, five and a half guys at that point, you know, he thinks caught up to us in Brooklyn. The second, when we played Virginia Tech the third time, we played him in the semis and, um, and then he didn't care that we were an eight seed.

He said, guys, I could care less. We're in the tournament. We got a chance. We're as good as he kept saying, we're as good as anybody in the field and we can win one game at a time.

And he was fine with an eight seed and it played out. We did continue to build momentum, I think through March, but we began that earlier. All right. So the way I know you guys, you, you talk to players, you get their opinions of all of these. I am curious, what do you think they would say?

And if you want to give your own answer to this, uh, that's fine. I'm going to ask you to rank three memories, if you will, the strongest, strongest is one, the least strong is three. The win at Duke, the win over Duke in the final four, one, the loss to Kansas Baylor would be three to me. Um, I, I just think beating Duke in new Orleans, I don't really, you know, you add in the top, you add in the fact that it was coach to chef his last game for historical purposes, but beating Duke, your, your rival, you've never played in the NCA tournament. You've played 258 times, but never in that tournament. And the NCA tournament has become so much bigger now in the last 25 years.

And so to do it on that stage, you know, I've been very fortunate to go to a number of final fours. I don't ever remember the electricity in a building being like it was for semifinal Saturday last year in new Orleans. It felt different. People didn't leave, you know, the Villanova fans after they lost. Usually the first semi-final team, their fans, they kind of trickle out. No one left.

It's just the, the, the environment, the atmosphere was something I've never experienced before. And then the win, obviously, in Cameron was huge because it was coach K's last game at home and nobody thought we were going to win the game. Nobody agree. And I mean, I didn't think we were going to win the game.

I've told you about that. I'm not, I mean, I beat us by 20 at home. They were playing. Well, it was his last game in Cameron and that place that was so special to him and to each other. And, but I felt early on in both games, I thought we were in it. I mean, I could tell early on it wasn't the game here was so, you know, and he talks about how we kind of tricked up our defense.

The first game we played them different defensively, the game in the Smith center, then we did all year. And he said, I'm not going to do that. You know, leaky, you've got this guy, you've got this guy, Brady, you've got Don Caro. And if they embarrass you, then you've got to deal with it.

Yeah. You know, we're not going to trick up our defense. We're not going to change things. We're going to do what we do.

And if your guy embarrasses you, you got national television, you have to deal with it. And defensively, we held our own and guys made big shots. And you know, that game at Cameron, you know, it really, and it's a credit to Duke because of the type of program they have and the type of coach that he is. And that's why it's such a big win for Carolina. It's a regular season win. It didn't win us the conference championship. We still finished one game behind, but it was such a big win just because of all other parts of it. Um, and then to me, the third one was Baylor because you go to the state of Texas and you knock off the defending champs and the game is still the craziest basketball game I've ever been to. So for me, that knocks off Kansas, but obviously that was the national championship game. Maybe three B is Kansas. That's a, it was a pretty good, it's a pretty good season.

I didn't even come up with with one that was on your list. Steve Kershaw. I hope the book kills.

It always will. Uh, together, the amazing story of Carolina basketball's 2021 and 22 season. Uh, Steve, I hope to see you soon. Uh, sorry about the Red Sox reference at the top. That's quite all right. No problem. It's only been 40 years. I haven't gotten over it yet, but that's okay. I'll talk to you soon now. Take care. Thanks, Adam. You got it. Steve Kershaw from North Carolina. It was an amazing run last year.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-06 05:47:14 / 2022-11-06 05:50:27 / 3

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