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    About the Book


    The 2009-2010 NCAA college basketball season marks the one hundredth anniversary of North Carolina basketball. The UNC Tar Heels have won two of the last five NCAA championships, have been a regular in top-10 polls for years, and own more victories over the last half century than any other college team.

    But it wasn’t always that way.

    For most of the first fifty years that they played basketball in Chapel Hill, the sport was an afterthought, ranking behind king football, baseball, and even boxing. The Tar Heels had thirteen head basketball coaches during that time, and for two seasons played without a head coach.

    Compared to today’s mania, no one cared. That all changed in 1952 with the arrival of Frank McGuire, a revolutionary head coach whose success touched off the reign of Carolina basketball.

    Now, this era comes back to life in Light Blue Reign as author Art Chansky traces the program’s metamorphosis to greatness that continues to grow. When Roy Williams and the Tar Heels cut down the nets at Detroit’s Ford Field after winning the 2009 national championship, they could thank Frank McGuire and his protege, Dean Smith, for starting the tradition of triumph back in the 1950’s.

    Weaving together the stories of these three men, Chansky, who has covered basketball on Tobacco Road for more than thirty years, uses firsthand accounts from interviews with people who were there to construct an intimate, detailed narrative of the three coaches and their basketball programs. Tracing their life stories and legendary loyalties, Light Blue Reign covers all of the overlapping intrigue: how three men grew up thirty-seven years and thousands of miles apart – a Catholic charmer from the streets, the schoolteachers’ son from the plains, and a broken-home survivor from Appalachia – but through dramatically different backgrounds and separate styles had successes that forever linked them in building the longest-lasting dynasty in college basketball.

    The banners of those teams and the jerseys of their stars hang in the rafters today, warming the hearts of all those who have worshiped North Carolina’s Light Blue Reign over the last fifty years – and counting. Part history, part centennial celebration, Light Blue Reign is not simply about one team’s victories – it’s about the dedication, passion, and love for a sport that players and fans of any loyalty will understand.