UNC's Smith to receive Lapchick Character Award
Posted October 21, 2008
New York — Hall of Fame coaches Dean Smith, Pat Summitt and Lou Carnesecca will receive the inaugural Joe Lapchick Character Awards in a ceremony at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 20, it was announced Tuesday.
The award, the idea of former St. John's player and longtime high school coach Gus Alfieri, was established to recognize basketball coaches who have shown the character and coaching ability of Hall of Famer Joe Lapchick, who coached at St. John's and with the New York Knicks.
“There could not be a better time to focus attention on character in sports but the present, and Joe Lapchick is the model for the person we should look to,'' said Alfieri, who was on Lapchick's 1959 NIT championship team.
Lapchick, a standout player who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959 as a member of the original Celtics, coached at St. John's from 1936-47 and 1956-1965, compiling a 334-130 record and winning four NIT championships. He spent nine seasons in the fledgling NBA and was credited as one of the leaders in integrating the league. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach in 1966. He died in 1970.
Smith led North Carolina to 11 Final Fours and two national championships in 36 seasons, compiling an 879-254 record. When he retired, he had the most wins in Division I history, a mark since eclipsed by Bob Knight.
Smith saw 96 percent of the lettermen who played under him graduate.
Summitt, the winningest coach in women's college basketball history with a 983-182 record in 34 seasons at Tennessee, has led the Lady Vols to eight national championships, but an even more impressive statistic is that 100 percent of the players who have completed their eligibility have graduated.
Carnesecca was an assistant to Lapchick for nine years and succeeded him at St. John's following the 1964-65 season. He coached at his alma mater for 24 seasons, each ending with a postseason appearance, including the 1985 Final Four.