Gallagher column: Durham talks to Civitans
It’s hard to believe that Woody Durham has been the voice of North Carolina football and basketball for 37 years.
But it is not hard for him to remember that first year.
“I remember how I thought it was so easy,” Durham said with a laugh before speaking to the Civitans Club at the Country Club of Salisbury on Thursday.
Durham’s voice was first heard during the 1971-72 school year. The Tar Heels went to the Gator Bowl and to the Final Four.
“Little did I know we wouldn’t go back to another Final Four until 1977,” Durham said.
Durham does few speaking engagements, adding, “It’s difficult to do one and not do some of the others.”
But he had an engagement in his hometown of Albemarle with the Stanly County Hall of Fame, so he stopped by.
And Durham knew what the topic of conversation would be before he ever sat down to eat lunch.
Who’s going pro and who isn’t?
Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green have declared for the NBA draft but not acquired an agent, meaning they can return.
Who better than Durham to shed some light on those three:
* “Wayne Ellington has improved a lot,” Durham said of the sophomore shooting guard. “If he makes that much improvement he might be ready after his junior year.”
* “I think Ty Lawson is as good of an offensive guard as I’ve ever seen at Carolina. But the NBA has a lot of 6-foot, 6-1 guards who can take the basketball coast to coast as fast.”
* “Danny Green has an opportunity to play at that level. But I think Danny needs more experience.”
Durham gives the impression he’s not a big fan of going early.
“Are guys ready? Very few are ready,” he said. “I don’t think they understand what a change in their lifestyle it is. It goes from being a sport to being a business.
“If you’re struggling in college, there’s always a coach or assistant coach or somebody there who will do their best to help you. The NBA isn’t going to do that. You’re just another number to them.”
Durham also gives the impression he is a big fan of players who don’t jump and appreciate college.
Like Tyler Hansbrough, the junior All-American who will remain for his senior year.
“Tyler is a unique individual,” Durham said. “He enjoys college life. And he’s looking forward to playing with Bobby Frasor.”
Frasor, one of Hansbrough’s housemates, has been shackled with injuries over the past two seasons.
Also, Durham points out, Hansbrough’s girlfriend, a cheerleader, will be in grad school next year.
Durham chuckled at another reason Hansbrough may have wanted to stay.
“Tyler hates to fly,” Durham noted, “and you don’t want to go to the NBA if you hate to fly. Sometimes he hates riding elevators. If it stops quick or has a hitch, he gets nervous.”
As long as Roy Williams and Butch Davis are in place as the basketball and football coaches, Durham said he wants to be behind the mike.
“I haven’t set a timetable,” he said. “My health’s still good. It’s still exciting, especially with Butch’s arrival in football. I know he’s got a plan, and I want to see if he can make it work as effectively as he did in Miami.
“And Roy’s really riding the crest of the wave right now. Already he has three recruits coming in next year ó a point guard, a power forward and a center. He’s got four commitments for the following year.
“It’s exciting to the point I want to be a part of it.”
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or email@example.com.
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