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Last week was a very sad week for college basketball as the game lost two legendary coaches with the passing of Dean Smith of North Carolina and Jerry Tarkanian.

Smith, UNC’s head coach from 1961 to 1997, Tark the Shark at UNLV from 1973 to 1992. Tarkanian was born in Euclid, Ohio, and was a Leo like myself. He put UNLV basketball on the map.

Smith had some great players along with Tark and both ran great programs. Smith worked in the pre-tattoo era when you could actually coach players and they would even listen to what you told them. Both coaches could go into half time and make adjustments to get their teams back in game.

It was very sad losing both great coaches and good men. They cared about their players and their communities.

Last Saturday I noticed the Tar Heels were playing Pitt and thought to myself, wow, that will be a good bet as they will want to come out and win one for Dean.

The start of the game was something to see as the Panthers student section in what is called the Oakland Zoo (where Tiger Paul Auslander held court) held up a huge banner in Tar Heel blue ink and it had one of Smiths great quotes written across it: “You should never be proud of doing what’s right. You should just do what’s right.”

Don’t think Dean could coach in today’s “me, me” atmosphere.

After watching this emotional scene I scooted up to the betting window and made a nice lay down as these guys would be sky high. How wrong could I have been! It was Pitt who came to play as they Tar and feathered the Heels, 89-76. Now these guys were losing by 14 points at the half after being a 4-point favorite for the game, so you would think head coach Roy Williams could make some adjustments.

The second half was the Tar Heels -5 so I made the bet to get at least half my original bet back. Well, they did play Pitt even the second half but really never made the run I was looking for.

Maybe the body tattooed players for the Heels just never heard of Smith or just didn’t care, and I hope the fans back in Chapel Hill let them know how embarrassing it was. I just wonder if the “me, me, me” players felt the same. I really hope Dean wasn’t watching.

At least our running Rebels played hard, losing a nail biter 76-75 to Air Force.

I remember back in the late 70’s, before a game a coach had a box of earth worms and after his go-go speech he opened the box and ate them. His players went nuts and went out to win the game. Those were the days.

On Wednesday the Heels travel to Durham to take on the Blue Devils as a dog. I will give them one more shot and take the points.

Horse play

Horse racing is a funny game and it’s not easy to eke out a profit but sometimes it looks you right in the face and we need to take note when that happens. Several years ago I was at the race book in Palace Station, it was Friday evening before the Kentucky Derby and I made some bets knowing how busy the place would be on Saturday.

I made a few trifectas and supers. I was looking at my tickets and noticed they were for that day’s races at Churchill and not Saturday’s. So I went to the window, voided them and had rewrites for Saturday.

All was good and we had dinner. After eating we went back to check the results. Low and behold I cost myself almost $40k voiding $48 worth of tickets as they would have won. Needless to say my Derby tickets were losers.

Never void a mistake

This past Sunday my friend always looks at Jerry’s Power page at Palace Station and later calls me to let me know she hit the $115.80 winner in the 7th race as it was Jerry J’s second pick on the page at 20/1. Well, if she had been listing to “Race Day Las Vegas” things would have been different.

Jerry came on and let everyone know it was a mistake on the sheet and that horse should be listed next to last. The amazing thing is it won. What are the chances of that happening?

All I can say is some days you are just walking around lucky and don’t even know it.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].

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