EDDIE PAYNE HAD A SECRET WEAPON. THE EAST CAROLINA coach knew his
Pirates would be dwarfed by North Carolina's huge front line in their
first-round NCAA tournament game, so he employed a homespun coaching
technique: He taped a towel to the end of a broomstick and waved it
in front of his players' faces forcing them to launch high-arcing
jumpers. Payne hoped his makeshift device would simulate the long
reaches and active arms of Tar Heel 7-footers Eric Montross and Kevin
One can only imagine what the score would have been without
Payne's brooms. The North Carolina frontcourt outscored the Pirates'
by 33 points on the way to an 85-65 Tar Heel win at Winston-Salem's
Joel Coliseum. ''We knew they had us beat on height,'' said East
Carolina guard Ronnell Peterson. ''So our goal was to use quickness
to handle their runs. But we had a lot of trouble -- especially with
their run early in the second half.''
That spurt extended North Carolina's 11-point halftime lead to 21
with 10 minutes to play, and it was keyed by defense: The Heels
forced five turnovers and blocked two shots during the surge.
Broomsticks didn't help East Carolina, and telephone poles
wouldn't have helped Rhode Island, Carolina's second-round opponent.
Two days after edging the Pirates by 20, the Tar Heels beat the Rams
112-67. North Carolina pounded the ball into the low post. Three
Rhode Island players fouled out trying to guard Montross, Salvadori
and forward George Lynch, who combined for 35 points and 21 rebounds.
Things got so bad for the Rams that midway through the second
half, several of them began actually pleading with Carolina for
mercy. Says Montross, ''We'd be standing at the lane on a foul shot
and they'd say, 'Chill out on us. Don't go so hard.' Obviously they
weren't going to make a comeback.''
In fact, the Tar Heels' lead ballooned to a game-high 51 in the
second half after Dean Smith pulled his starters. The most exciting
action after that occurred near the Carolina bench, where Lynch and
Pat Sullivan, a backup forward who played frequently, tried to get
reserve guard Travis Stephenson some playing time. After breaking
from a team huddle, Lynch elbowed Stephenson closer to the coaches
while Sullivan slid behind him and stole his seat at the end of the
bench. ''Sometimes Coach Smith forgets who he hasn't used yet,'' said
Lynch afterward. ''So with Travis, we boxed him out so he had to move
down closer to the coaches.'' It worked: Stephenson played a
career-high five minutes.
Shortly after North Carolina's 45-point win -- the most lopsided
ever by the Tar Heels in an NCAA tournament game -- Rhode Island
center Mike Moten, looking rather shell-shocked, said, ''I don't know
of anyone who can stop them. Maybe Michigan.''