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Former Tar Heels Coach Hanners Returns to Favorable Site
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
August 31, 2011



Nearly two decades later, basketball fans remember the 1993 NCAA mens national championship game in the Louisiana Superdome for what became known simply as The Timeout. Late in regulation of a two-point contest between Michigan and North Carolina, Wolverines star forward Chris Webber signaled for a timeout, but his team did not have any remaining. The mental mistake led to a technical foul and North Carolinas eventual 77-71 victory.

For recently-hired Hornets assistant coach Dave Hanners, though, hell always look back fondly at April 5, 1993 for a different reason: It marked his first championship as a coach. Hanners was an assistant on legendary Tar Heels head coach Dean Smiths staff for 11 seasons, beginning in 1989-90.

New Orleans has been very good to UNC, recalled a smiling Hanners, who was a Tar Heels reserve guard from 1972-76. North Carolina also won the national title in 1982 with Michael Jordan (making a clutch mid-range jumper to beat Georgetown in the final minute).

Incidentally, one of Hanners most memorable moments as a collegiate player also took place in the Crescent City. On Valentines Day of 1976, Hanners played a career-high 28 minutes, as North Carolina outlasted Tulane 113-106 in the Superdome. One reason for his extended playing time? The interconference matchup went into quadruple overtime, still the lengthiest game in the storied history of North Carolina basketball.

While his recent return to New Orleans brought back plenty of indelible hoops memories, Hanners decision to join the Hornets in 2011-12 was motivated more by his admiration and respect for second-year head coach Monty Williams. Hanners has known Williams since the early 1990s, when North Carolinas staff tabbed Williams as a potential recruit.

Hanners remembers the teenage Williams as a true student-athlete, who excelled both on the court and in the classroom. In other words, he was exactly the type of prospect the Tar Heels sought during for their program.

We had his name in our files, Hanners remembered. They really liked him and thought he was a typical North Carolina kind of guy. They really appreciated what he represented. He had good character.

Hanners began the 2010-11 NBA season as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Bobcats under Larry Brown, also a former UNC Tar Heels guard. However, Brown and his staff were replaced in December when Paul Silas took over as Bobcats head coach.

During the latter stages of the 2010 preseason, the Bobcats and Hornets played a game in Charlotte, won by the home team. It was part of an ominous exhibition season for New Orleans, in which the Hornets went just 1-7. However, just six weeks later, when Hanners Bobcats faced the Hornets in the Crescent City on Dec. 1, NOLA was coming off an extremely impressive 8-0 regular-season start.

When we (the Bobcats) played them (the Hornets) early in preseason, I thought, Theyre going to really struggle, Hanners recalled. We werent very good, but we played well enough to win against them. I was really worried for Monty.

But I watched them about seven games into the (regular) season because I had to scout them before our December game and they were a completely different group. They were already like a machine. They were running great sets and I knew then that Monty was going to be alright. He made lots of adjustments and did a great job.

Hanners, who won his first NBA championship in 2004 as a Detroit Pistons assistant under Brown, received interest from other teams this offseason but decided in July to come to New Orleans. His first interview with Williams clinched the decision.

Monty had expressed some interest, so I came for an interview, Hanners said. The moment I sat down to talk to him, I realized again that he has such great character. I recognized that he really knew what he was doing in terms of Xs and Os. You dont really know for sure about another coach until you get to know him like I have. Then I watched him work at his (basketball) camp and realized that he is going to be a great coach one day. Thats when I made my decision.



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