Dean Smith was widely known for his idea of "The Carolina Way," in which he challenged his players to, “Play hard, play smart, play together.”[51] “The Carolina Way” was an idea of excellence in the classroom, as well as on the court. In Coach Smith's book, The Carolina Way, former player Scott Williams said, regarding Dean Smith, “Winning was very important at Carolina, and there was much pressure to win, but Coach cared more about our getting a sound education and turning into good citizens than he did about winning.“ [52] "The Carolina Way" was evident in many practices the players would implement, including pointing to the player who assisted in a basket, giving him credit as an act of selflessness. This "Thank the Passer" practice is used throughout basketball today.[53]
For a player to have her jersey honored and hung in the Carmichael Auditorium rafters, she must have been a first-team All-American, been a member of an Olympic team as an undergraduate, or been selected by the coaches as Most Valuable Player of a national championship team. For retiring a jersey, a player must be named national player of the year.[3]
The Tar Heels finished the season 29–7, 16–2 in ACC play to finish tied for the regular season conference championship with Virginia. As the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, they advanced to the semifinals before ultimately losing to Duke. They received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region, where they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Auburn.

The WNBA season wraps up tonight with a decisive game five in the finals between the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun. One Tar Heel will feature prominently. LaToya Sanders is in her seventh WNBA season and her fourth with the Mystics. She’s started every game for Washington this season, as they finished with the best record in the league. (Tar Heel Blog)
It’s the first season in many years where the UNC women’s basketball team is being led by a different head coach. As the players adjust to new leadership, head coach Courtney Banghart is settling into her new position and school too. Banghart led the team’s first official practice with lots of energy and passionate instruction last month. (Chapelboro.com)
The Tar Heels own several notable streaks in the history of college basketball. They appeared in either the NCAA Tournament or National Invitation Tournament (NIT) every year from 1967 to 2001. This includes 27 straight appearances in the NCAA tourney from 1975 (the first year that competition allowed more than one team from a conference to get a guaranteed bid) to 2001—the longest such streak in tournament history until it was broken by Kansas in March 2017. The Tar Heels also notched 37 straight winning seasons from 1964 to 2001, the third-longest such streak in NCAA history, behind UCLA's streak of 54 consecutive winning seasons from 1948 to 2001, and Syracuse's currently active streak of 46 seasons from 1971 to date. They also finished .500 or better for 39 years in a row from 1962 (Dean Smith's second year) to 2001, the third-longest such streak in NCAA history, behind Kentucky's streak of 61 consecutive seasons from 1926 to 1988 (the Wildcats were barred from playing in 1952–53 due to NCAA violations) and UCLA's 54-season streak.

In 1921, the school joined the Southern Conference.[23] Overall, the Tar Heels played 32 seasons in the Southern Conference from 1921 to 1953. During that period they won 304 games and lost 111 for a winning percentage of 73.3%. The Tar Heels won the Southern Conference regular season 9 times and the Southern Conference Tournament Championship 8 times.
The 2010–2011 Tar Heels, with the addition of Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, and Reggie Bullock, eighth in the preseason polls, struggled out the gates, starting with a 2-2 record, the worst start since the 2001–02 season. After losses to Illinois and Texas, the Tar Heels fell out of the rankings. The losses of senior Will Graves, to dismissal, and Larry Drew II, to transfer and also the unexpected off-season transfers of David and Travis Wear did not help matters. However, the Tar Heels improved greatly during the conference season, finishing first in the ACC regular season with a 14-2 record. Williams was named Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts of getting his team to work through the adversity to finish strong in the regular season.[44] Also during the season, the term Tar Heel Blue Steel was coined, referencing the Tar Heel men's basketball walk-ons. The term was started by one of the players, Stewart Cooper, in hopes that it would be a replacement for "walk-ons" and other less catchy names and soon enough Roy Williams caught on, as well as the rest of the Tar Heel Nation. North Carolina lost to Duke in the ACC Tournament Finals and made a significant run in the NCAA Tournament until they were eliminated in the Elite Eight by Kentucky, finishing with a 29-8 record.[45]
In a clip from Michael Jordan's time as a player in Chapel Hill, the former North Carolina guard and six-time NBA Champion speaks on the Carolina family. "It’s just like a family and everybody contributes to the win. They can come off the bench and contribute or stay on the bench and cheer and so that is contributing to win," Jordan said. (Inside Carolina)

In 2017-18, the Tar Heels were ranked at #9 in the Coaches poll. Forwards Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Tony Bradley, and Justin Jackson had left, while the team recruited Cameron Johnson. This season, the team did not earn the ACC regular season or postseason title. However, the Heels earned a #2 seed in the West of the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels ended the season with a 26-11 record after being eliminated by Texas A&M in the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.


In the 2008–09 season, the Tar Heels won their fifth NCAA title by defeating Michigan State in the championship of the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The Tar Heels won all six of that year's tournament games by at least 12 points, for an average victory margin of 20.2 points, and only trailed for a total of 10 minutes out of 240 through the entire tournament.[41] Wayne Ellington was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, the fourth Tar Heel so honored.
In 1960, the Tar Heels were placed on NCAA probation for "improper recruiting entertainment" of basketball prospects. As a result, they were barred from the 1961 NCAA tournament[31] and also withdrew from the 1961 ACC Tournament. Following the season, Chancellor William Aycock forced McGuire to resign. As a replacement, Aycock selected one of McGuire's assistants, Kansas alumnus Dean Smith.
Greg Brown: "My top five schools are Kentucky, Texas, Memphis, Auburn, and North Carolina. I’ve visited all the schools, but Texas was the only official visit so far. I’m planning more officials, but it won’t be until late November. When I was at North Carolina it took me 30 minutes to get out of the there because I was signing autographs and taking pictures." (USA Today)
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