Friday, December 2. 1977 Weekender 3
Three freshmen adjust well
to UNC and its basketball
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By WILL WILSON
The life of a Carolina freshman basketball
player is not easy. Every weeknight, he must
attend an academic study hall for two hours.
Afternoons, he either has to attend
organized practice or is expected to play in
pick-up games for two or three hours.
He is also trying to learn Dean Smith's
system, known as one of the most
complicated in the game.
All this is on top of the normal problems a
college freshman experiences in his first
major excursion from home.
Tar Heel freshmen this season are all
rather far from home. Al Wood is from the
small, central Georgia town of Gray, Pete
Budko hails from Lutherville, Md., a
Baltimore suburb and Mike Pepper comes
from Vienna, Va., just outside Washington,
But they all agree after the first week of the
season that basketball has helped rather than
hindered the adjustment to the 20,000
"I would've had problems being by
myself," Pepper says. "The team helped out a
lot. These teams have always been close-knit.
That's the whole idea here."
Budko concurred, saying, "1 love it here.
It's the best. I left a lot of good and close
friends back home, but my friends here are
just the greatest. They always have a kind
word. When I was injured at the start of
practice (a toenail was separated from his
toe), they never let me down."
Wood says his transition has been
"I'm not the type to get homesick," he
says. "1 was here in the summer, too. That
made me a little more relaxed than the other
Even though they all seem to have
adjusted well, there have been times when
second thoughts might have entered their
minds like during the rugged conditioning
practices in October.
"Coach Smith said we'd work as hard as
we could, and we did," Budko says. "They're
not horror stories, though. We know we'll be
in as good shape as anybody."
"It was more than I expected," Pepper
Freshmen are expected to play a big part in the seasons of many ACC teams this
year. Carolina's three big recruits are (left to right) Al Wood, Mike Pepper and Pete
Budko. Staff photo by Joseph Thomas.
As for learning the system, Budko says his
high school coach at Loyola H igh gave him a
"He was an excellent defensive coach," the
6-foot-8 forward says. "That helped a lot.
Here, there's a lot more plays, both
offensively and defensively, to learn and
memorize. It's getting a lot easier now that
we've been working with it six weeks."
Pepper, a 6-foot-2 guard says, "1 would've
liked to have learned it a little faster. The
longer you're with Dean Smith, the more
basketball you learn. The seniors are still
learning things every day."
The three agree that the UNC reputation
for class and honesty was a big factor in their
choice of schools.
Wood added that he thought he'd be able
to play a lot here, too. He's being billed by
some as the next Walter Davis, but Wood
says he pays no attention to that.
"1 think the only resemblance between him
and I is that we're both about 6-6 and we're
Budko says there was no one thing that got
"It's like the commercial says, 'When it's
right, you know it.' "
Zaliagiris, Bradley could make or break Heels
By PETE MITCHELL
Lost in the excitement of the Eastern Regional
net-cutting ceremony and subsequent trip to
Atlanta for the NCAA basketball finals is an
important night in the life of last year's North
Carolina team which seemed to pull out one
miracle win after another.
It was against Purdue in the very first round of
the NCAA's that Coach Dean Smith was given his
first post-season nervous chill in 1977.
With Tommy LaGarde still leaning on two huge
crutches, Walter Davis out with a finger injury and
Phil Ford in serious foul trouble. Carolina was
severely outmanned by the Boilermakers.
Enter Tom Zaliagiris and Dudley Bradley.
Bradley hit four of six shots, snagged eight
rebounds and made two important steals.
Zaliagiris drilled a 20-footer with 1: 17 to play to
regain the lead and totalled eight points for the
game. Their performances were vital to UNC's69
Their contributions were noteworthy then, but
Smilh is going to need that kind of play from these
two all year lung, having inserted both into his
Bradley has been a frustrating player to watch
as he heads into his third Big Four Tournament.
It's safe to say he's been lucky to have a guy like
Bruce Buckley on the team for the Carolina fans to
Having watched Bradley practice for two years
now, it's easy to see the tdgewood, Md. junior is
an excellent athlete. At 6-foot-6, 195 pounds.
Bradley's long legs and arms make him the ideal
build for the small forward position.
Unfortunately for Tar Heel rooters, his skills have
seldom strayed outside the daily practice sessions.
Smith has proclaimed this as Bradley's year. But
he's got to prove himself, and in a hurry. John
Virgil, the explosive sophomore, and freshman Al
Wood are narrowing the margin Bradley created
with pood pre-season performances.
"I'm ready." Bradley said after starting and
playing 23 minutes in the first Oregon State game.
"I've got more confidence this year, but I was tight
out there tonight, especially defensively."
H is game stats were unimpressive, but he seems
to be getting used to the Smith system. He works
well with Ford and M ike O'Koren on offense even
though visions of Davis are bound to distort a fair
Zaliagiris, the other new Carolina starter, is a
different case altogether. Every year, it seems like
one Tar Heel player is metamorphosed into
something much better than he was the year
before. It happened with guard Brad Hoffman,
with Buckley his junior year and with John
Kuester last year.
Tom Zaliagiris is the likely candidate for
"pleasant surprise" honors this season, although
he contributed a lot his junior year.
The Detroit senior led the team in field goal
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percentages (60.5) and went on a five game tear
in which he hit on 15 of 16 shots from the floor.
When it was clear that Ford would need a
running mate to replace Kuester in the backcourt,
Zal spoke up.
"I've been waiting to start for a long time," he
said after scoring 12 points in 17 minutes against
Oregon State last Saturday. "It was obvious that a
place would be open and whoever played best in
practice would start."
Zaliagiris said he also learned a lot about
starting: "You definitely have to feel things out
and get into the flow of the game. I'm not trying to
do anything spectacular out there, but nothing
It's tempting to make Kuester-Zaliagiris
comparisons. What Zal lacks in ball-handling
ability he makes up with his ability to drive to the
hoop. As for defenseand rebounding, it won't hurt
the Tar Heels' chances to have another 6-foot-5
man in the lineup.
"If people expect me to be John Kuester with a
different number on my back, they're wrong,"
As always. Smith has to play the role of the
psychiatrist. He's got to get the 325-pound Cieff
Crompton motivated for a whole season, caution
Carolina fans to be patient with a smaller, quicker
lineup and somehow convince the team it can
accomplish as much without the likes of Dav is and
The voids left in the UNC starting lineup are
known to everybody, especially the pollsters who
still picked the Tar Heels No. I in the nation. They
must believe Smith can accomplish these
psychological wonders. Or maybe they just caught
part of the Purdue game last year.
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