Editorial: Naismith nod fitting for UNC's Hatchell

Apr. 09, 2013 @ 07:32 PM

Thanks to Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina still has reason to celebrate the end of college basketball season.

Hatchell, coach of the UNC women's basketball team who has notched 908 wins during her career (including 11 seasons at Francis Marion), has earned induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

Accolades aren't new to her. Hatchell earned national coach of the year in 1994, 2006 and 2008. She's the only coach to win national championships at three different levels. She served as assistant coach on the 1988 Summer Olympics gold medal team. She's already a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

But, as The Herald-Sun's Harold Gutmann reported on Tuesday, Hatchell prizes the Naismith above all others.

"In the basketball world, you can't get any higher than the Naismith," she said. "This is high as you can go."

Joining Hatchell for induction into the Naismith this year: Players Bernard King, Gary Payton and Dawn Staley and her fellow coaches Guy Lewis, Jerry Tarkanian and Rick Pitino - fresh off Louisville's NCAA men's tournament championship victory.

The official ceremony will be held Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.

She's the 10th women's basketball coach to earn a place in the Naismith. She's also the 10th person with UNC ties to find a place there, following coaches Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Frank McGuire, Larry Brown and Ben Carnevale, player/coach Billy Cunningham and players Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Robert McAdoo.

And she made it into the Naismith on her first try.

Making this accomplishment even sweeter: UNC becomes the only college with active men's and women's basketball coaches in the Naismith.

"For a basketball guru like me, this is probably the next thing to heaven," Hatchell said.

No doubt. But we're confident that she's not planning to coast after this achievement. After all, Pat Summitt's record 1,098 wins lingers out there. Hatchell doesn't seem the type to settle for second place.

For now, though, we hope she and all the Tar Heel fans take time to savor the moment, take pride in the accomplishment and celebrate along with the players who have helped Hatchell distinguish herself as a coach during the past 27 seasons.