Nets Assistant Coach Pat Sullivan had quite a successful run in his college basketball career. “Sully” played in three Final Fours (1991, 1993 and 1995) and coached in another three, all at the University of North Carolina. His Tar Heel team won the National Championship in 1993. That was the game in which Chris Webber – playing on the University of Michigan – called a timeout that his team did not have in the waning moments. A technical was assessed and eventually North Carolina prevailed. It was Sullivan who was at the free-throw line and who missed the second free-throw that Webber rebounded and advanced up the court, only to call the phantom timeout.
Watch the play and refresh your memory:
NJNets.com talked with Coach Sullivan about his experiences and thoughts on March Madness, including how he thinks his Tar Heels will do in the upcoming Final Four.
What was it like playing in the NCAA Tournament?
“It was really exciting for me first of all to go as a freshman. My first time – I graduated from High School here in Northern New Jersey – and next thing you know I’m playing in a Final Four, which obviously is pretty exciting and then to do it two more times as a player and then actually to win it. You don’t appreciated really as much at the time. I mean I did, but not like I do now like when I see these kids running around after they win it, they’re celebrating, because that was our team back in ’93. So yeah, I think it’s definitely a special time and obviously you see how infatuated the country is about the Tournament. So yeah, it’s definitely a big deal. At Carolina we pretty much expected to get there although it was still an honor to play in it.”
Sullivan, in center
Like a blur?
“Yeah I think so, especially if you go far in it because it seems like the first two rounds and then you go to the regionals and then to the Final Four. It does happen pretty quickly. In three weeks, you go from 64 teams to four in a span of two weekends.”
What was it like being a part of the infamous “Webber Timeout” game, the one in which North Carolina won the Championship?
“Actually, I got fouled with 20 seconds to play and we were up one and I went 1 of 2 from the line. So I was kind of upset that I missed the free-throw. And I didn’t realize that they didn’t have timeouts so I was just kind of sprinting back on defense to pick up somebody just to play defense because if they score it’s a tie game. So I was kind of upset about that but when he called timeout, I saw all of my teammates were celebrating. They all knew that he was out of timeouts. So then obviously the technical foul and in college you get two shots and the ball back so we pretty much knew then that we were going to wrap up the game.”
That was such a historical moment in college sports; do you see it almost in a flashbulb memory?
“No not really because it was a well played game by both teams; they had a great team, we had a great time. I don’t think that play decided the game. It obviously helped us become National Champions but they still would have to score. It was unfortunate that it happened to Chris like that but that’s part of the game. It’s how it goes.
Have you seen this years’ UNC team much?
“A couple of times. I’ve seen them a few times.”
What do you think of them going into this Final Four?
“I think just like any Carolina team: it looks like they play real hard, they try to defend and they play at an up tempo pace, which is what Coach Williams likes to do and was what Coach Smith wanted to do when we were playing. (That is) to defend and cause a lot of turnovers, use our depth to wear people down and then to get out on the break, run and score as much as we possibly could and taking good shots. That’s what I see them doing so hopefully they can pull it off.”
So you’re thinking they got it, right?
“They got a chance. There’s four good teams, so…”
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