Others Are Watching

UNC's lack of success on the gridiron this year has caused me to dig deep for some stories from the past to provide us a bridge to basketball season. I remembered the other day an article I saw in the Richmond newspaper quite a few years ago about a middle school here in Richmond that used UNC as a model for it's basketball program. Furthermore, sometime after the article appeared in the newspaper, I met the coach of that team and we have attended several games in the Smith Center together.

I think the newspaper article is interesting for two reasons. Obviously, I think it is worthy of comment when a middle school patterns it's basketball program after the Tar Heels, but another reason the story stood out was that Terry Long was the star player for Coach Jerry Puryear at the time the story was written.

I had not retained a copy of the article when it was published so I called Coach Puryear and asked him if he had a copy I could use for reference in writing an article. He said he was sure he had one somewhere, but he didn't know exactly where it was, but he would try and locate it for me. Several days later, I received a copy of the article in the mail and, in a way, I'm glad it does not have the date on it for it would just emphasize how quickly time passes.

Coach Puryear is now retired, but during the time he was coach of the Brookland Middle School, Brookland captured Colonial District Championships in three of the seven years since it was established. In two of those years, Brookland was undefeated. Puryear's record up until the time the article was written was 75-15. Not too shabby a record at any level of competition..

Puryear said in the article, "I've always liked North Carolina because of Dean Smith. I admire the way their kids play together. We try to teach the same thing. I don't think there is a better college program in the world."

To show his affection for Coach Smith and the Carolina program, Brookland not only tried to copy the style of Dean Smith, Brookland even wore "Carolina Blue uniforms with V-necks-just like the Tar Heels."

Terry Long is long gone from the basketball scene. In fact, neither Coach Puryear nor I know where he is currently. One humorous story Coach told me was that his friends used to play tricks on him by telephoning and disguising their voices to sound like Dean Smith. One day he got a call and the caller identified himself as Eddie Fogler at the University of North Carolina. Puryear said he had developed a standard reaction to these prank calls and responded by saying, "Yeah, right." As it turns out, it was actually Eddie Fogler and he was calling about Terry Long.

For those who don't recognize the name, Terry Long was a player at Maryland in the late 80s at the same time Len Bias was a Terrapin. Facts fade with time and I don't have the the resources to check them, but I believe he was with Len Bias on the night Bias overdosed. I don't recall hearing anything about him after that incident. He may have been a senior, but I don't think so. He just sort of faded away as did Lefty Dreisel. Bias, of course, died from the overdose.

Long was widely sought after out of high school, but I think the more interesting point is that he was already being inquired about when he was in the 8th grade. That's not uncommon today but 15 or so years ago, I didn't hear about 8th graders being tracked. Recently, the father of a kid in the 5th grade said that Arkansas had offered his son a scholarship. It has no meaning since an offer at that age violates NCAA rules and the University cannot publicly comment on the situation. Parents get confused sometimes when a coach makes a comment like, "If I'm still the coach, your son will have a scholarship." That could easily be interpreted as a scholarship offer to someone not familiar with the recruiting process. Long was 6'5" and weighed 195 when he was in the 8th grade.

Well, that's it for this week. It's about time to write another "Odds and Ends" article with short items not long enough for an article on their own merit.

Like, have you heard about the goalposts that have been installed by 5 colleges that can be bent down and locked by 5 normal persons. That prevents them from being destroyed by celebrating fans after a big win. I'm glad to see something being done because there is a pending law suit against a school and the makers of the goal posts by a student who was seriously injured (paralyzed) when he and others were trying to tear down the goal posts after a game. I earlier thought schools should revert back to the old wooden goalposts and let the students tear to their heart's content, but that probably would invite students to tear them down after every win. Something needs to be done. Did any of you see that mob after the West Virginia-Virginia Tech game the other night?