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The Triangle Tattler

Gersten in full swing



Friday, April 10, 2015

Bobby Gersten, 94, is a former UNC basketball player that plays golf or tennis daily. By Barry Saunders

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

(TNS) CHAPEL HILL, N.C. _ Oops. I almost missed my interview with Bobby Gersten twice Wednesday. The first time was when we had to reschedule around his afternoon tennis match. The second was when I walked right past him. Gersten is 94, and I was looking for a 94-year-old man to dodder into the Friday Center. The trim dude who bounded through the doors, voice booming as he joked with the receptionist, looked and sounded decades younger. He, thank goodness, recognized me. Gersten, the oldest living former UNC Tar Heel basketball player, has been committed to physical fitness his entire life — and it shows. His handshake is firm, and when you pat him on the back, it’s like patting a tree. Man, I thought wistfully, I hope I’m in shape as good as that when I turn 94. Of course, that was before sadly acknowledging that I’m not in shape as good as that now. Gersten said, “I’ve spent my whole life in physical education, in college, in the Air Force, coaching. When I was a boy, my mother used to say ‘Don’t ask anyone for a ride,’ so I walked everywhere.” Starting at noon Saturday, Gersten will walk from UNC’s campus to the Finley golf course to promote physical fitness as part of the UNC Walk for Health. If you’ve got a pair of sneakers, you can join him at the Jackson Hall tennis courts. The event will have musical entertainment featuring beach music and Motown, so you can shag, frug and Charleston after you finish the walk. The Orange County Jammers, a senior citizen cheerleading team, will be there to cheer you on. You don’t have to pay a thing to participate, but your body may pay you back with 90 plus years of good health if you do. William Thorpe, hired by Gersten’s family to drive him to his daily tennis or golf matches, said Gersten’s only concession to old age is a hearing aid. “He reads the newspaper every day and doesn’t even wear glasses, Thorpe said. When Thorpe first signed up for the job of driving the then-93-year-old to play tennis and golf, he said, “I figured it would be for a couple of weeks and that would be that.” That was almost two years ago, and Gersten rarely misses a day playing one or the other. “If the weather’s bad, he’ll go to a movie. He’s doing something every day,” Thorpe said. “I’ve never heard of anything remotely like that.” Gersten and his wife, Libbie — whom he met while both were students at UNC — celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in November. She is 92. Gersten’s affiliation with and contributions to UNC continue today. He is a senior mentor to UNC medical school students in a program designed to acquaint them with healthy older adults and their health care needs. For someone who walked everywhere and was committed to physical fitness, his most important con-

See GERSTEN, page 8D

Photo courtesy of Jeff Siner

The 78th tournament began April 9

Honorary starters Arnold Palmer, left, and Jack Nicklaus, right, embrace at the first tee box on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.

By Cam Huffman

The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — When people find out that I’m fortunate enough to be in the Peach State covering my ninth straight Masters Tournament this week, the reaction is almost always the same. First they call me names that they wouldn’t call a stranger that walked up and hit them over the head with a branch from one of the enormous pine trees that line the grounds at Augusta National. Then they back down and simply call me lucky, sometimes followed by another word that should be reserved for that branch-yielding bully. The final stage is to ask me several questions about the experience. In the interest of saving time, and hopefully avoiding a few slurs in my direction, I’ll answer three of the most popular here.

Who’s going to win?

If you’ve read my Greenbrier Classic predictions over the years, you probably know not to bet your mortgage, or even your dollhouse, on my advice. But there are a couple of guys I feel

good about this week. One is The Greenbrier’s own Bubba Watson. Although he hasn’t played in a month after the death of a good friend, Watson was third the last time out at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He’s finished in the top 15 in every tournament he’s played this year, and the month layoff is much the same as his schedule a year ago, when he won his second green jacket. Augusta National simply fits Watson’s game perfectly, and he’s been strong here over the years. When trying to defend his 2012 title, Watson struggled, finishing tied for 50th after a forgettable start. But this year he seems more prepared for what to expect as the defending champ. He’s made the cut in all six Masters he’s played, and I expect him to be in the mix again this time around. Another favorite of mine is Jason Day, who has made four Masters starts and finished in the top 20 three times. The only poor finish was when he had to withdraw with an injury in 2012. In 2011 he finished tied for second, and in 2013 he came in third. That’s a pretty good

See MASTERS, page 8D

Augusta National Golf Club • Augusta, Georgia

2015 The Masters

Atlanta Augusta


The 78th Masters is scheduled to be played April 9-12.

Previous winners To par ’14 B. Watson ’13 A. Scott ’12 B. Watson

-8 -9 -10

Ala. Amen corner Starts at the second shot at the 11th, all of the 12th and the tee shot at the 13th

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total

4 455 5 575 4 350 3 240 4 455 3 180 4 450 5 570 4 460 36 3,735 4 495 4 505 3 155 5 510 4 440 5 530 3 170 4 440 4 465 36 3,710 72 7,445


150 km 150 miles


13 14



10 18





6 5



9 Carolina cherry Tee pushed back 30 yards in 2002; green is protected by two bunkers



Nandina President Dwight D. Eisenhower requested a tree be cut down after hitting it so many times; the club named tree after him instead. It was removed in 2014 after damage during ice storm


Hole Par Yards Camellia This hole plays downhill and features a nearly 60-yard bunker.


2 Flowering peach Shortest par four on the course. This hole has been changed less than any other hole on the course.

Source: Augusta National Golf Club

NBA could claim 3 from Duke Chizik sees growth in Newton’s maturity

Three Duke University players debate entering the NBA after just one season on the team.

The quarterback has grown on and off the field since his days with Chizik at Auburn.

By Steve Wiseman The Herald Sun

DURHAM — Now that Duke has added a fifth NCAA men’s basketball championship to its athletic record, the question now centers around who will be back next year in the drive for a sixth. On Wednesday, the answers were mixed. On the plus side, associate head coach Jeff Capel removed his name from consideration for Arizona State’s vacant head coaching position, choosing to remain head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s top aide with the Blue Devils. “That’s a huge plus for our program and me personally,” Krzyzewski said Wednesday. “...Jeff had a huge, huge impact on this team. There is no question about it.” Freshman guard Grayson Allen, the unexpected hero of Monday night’s 68-63 NCAA Tournament champion-

By Jonathan Jones

The Charlotte Observer

Photo courtesy of Sam Riche

Duke’s men’s basketball team won the national championship April 6. ship game with 16 points, has seen his stock with NBA scouts skyrocket since that performance. Allen said Wednesday the attention was surprising, but he has no plans to turn professional after averaging just 4.4 points per game this season. “It’s not a question for me,” Allen said.

It is a question, a big one, for Allen’s three classmates on Duke’s team. Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones are all projected to be firstround picks if they leave school after just one season.

See DUKE, page 8D

Gene Chizik has kept up with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton since their one season together at Auburn, and Chizik said he has seen a growth in maturity in Newton both on and off the field in the past several years. Chizik, who coached Newton and Auburn to the 2011 BCS national championship, said Tuesday that he has noticed Newton has “matured pretty quickly” since leaving Auburn in 2011 and becoming a captain on the Panthers. “I think he understands there’s no other way to survive and be good at your craft without really growing up,” said Chizik, now North Carolina’s defensive coordinator, after a Tar

Heels practice. “I know he’s a guy that’s going to come in early and be one of the last ones to leave. I know that. We talked about that, him coming in early during the season and being one of the last ones to leave. That’s what he needs to do to be great, and he’ll do whatever he has to do to be great. “As far as being able to handle pressure situations and all outside interference, he was the best I’ve ever been around in terms of eliminating distractions. So in that regard, he was probably wise beyond his years. But as a football player in terms of maturing and in conversations I’ve had with him, I think he’s a different player because he knows what it takes at that level to excel.” While Newton still has the penchant for missing high on passes, his quarterbacking skills have improved since college. He doesn’t rely as

See CHIZIK, page 8D

Friday, Arpil 10, 2015, Page 8D

Masters from 1A

track record for a guy who’s been on the verge of a major championship several times, with seven top-10 finishes in 17 majors played. This season hasn’t been spectacular for Day, but he hasn’t missed a cut yet and did win the Farmers Insurance Open on Feb. 5. He’s confident his game is coming around, and I’m confident he’s ready to make a run this week. Other possibilities? You can never rule out Phil Mickelson, who has won three times here and seems to have his game coming around after finishing 9-under-par at the Houston Open last week. Rory McIlroy is eventually going to win a green jacket, as well. The only question is whether it will be this year or sometime down the road.

How will Tiger do?

I’m clueless. Every time I think I have it figured out, something happens to change my mind. On my drive to Augusta, I was convinced Tiger Woods didn’t have a chance at even competing this week. In fact, my prediction was that he was going to miss the cut. Woods hasn’t played in more than two months. He doesn’t have a top-10 finish since 2013, also the last time he won a tournament. Woods’ last Masters win came in 2005, and it’s been obvious the last couple of years that his game just isn’t the same. Then I got here and heard reports from friends that he shot a 30 on the front nine in his Monday practice round. I got a glimpse of him myself on Wednesday, and I was impressed with what I saw. Not only did his swing look comfortable, his putts on the practice green were falling. More importantly, Woods looked relaxed. He smiled. He laughed. He joked with fans, and he even signed autographs. Those traits aren’t typical of Woods, but they are a sign he’s in a better place personally than he’s been in years. Maybe his golf game will follow. While recent history says Woods could have a rough week, Masters history says maybe not. In his last nine Masters appearances, Woods has finished in the top 4 eight times, and he hasn’t missed the cut since playing as an amateur in 1996. So if I’m forced to make a pre-

diction, I’ll say Woods makes the cut and finishes somewhere in the top 30. A top 10 this week, though, might be a reach.

What’s the best part?

This is a hard one. The scenery is amazing. The Georgia peach ice cream sandwiches in the media room are worth the trip, and the feeling of history and tradition is almost impossible to explain. Oh, and the words freezing and snow have been out of the conversation for months. But since covering my first Masters in 2007, I have enjoyed nothing more than the Wednesday Par 3 tournament. Seeing “The Big Three,” of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player take some swings and soak in the appreciation from the fans has given me chills the last several years, and even with Palmer sitting it out this year, and Ben Crenshaw playing in his place, the roars could still be heard through the pine trees and across the lush fairways for almost two hours as the trio made its way around the course — especially when Nicklaus aced No. 4 at the age of 75. In the span of about an hour Wednesday, I watched Jason Day and Erik Compton both hit the same fan watching along the No. 1 green. I saw Matt Every’s young son Quinn sink a putt with a mini putter and then, when prompted by Every’s playing partner, Billy Horshel, wave to the crowd with the ball in hand. He just didn’t know when to stop. He waved and waved and waved as the crowd cheered, until Horshel finally encouraged the youngster off the green and onto the next hole. Then, minutes later, I saw Watson and his wife, Angie, come through with their adopted son, Caleb, dressed in a white Masters caddie uniform. As they strolled up the hill and made their way to the green, along with his playing partner and fellow Greenbrier golfer Webb Simpson, Caleb belted out, “Mommy, I need my driver.” With that, Angie pulled out a custom pink Ping driver, just like his father’s but made for the 3 year old’s size, that he proudly swung, much to the delight of the fans lining the fairway. That’s just an hour out of the day. There were many more that could take up the entire paper. Those moments, and similar ones over the years, are the ones I’ll never forget.

From Page One Chizik from 1A

heavily on his athleticism, and his play in his first four seasons has earned him two trips to the Pro Bowl. Newton transferred to Auburn in late 2009 after one season at Blinn College, a junior college in Texas. He embarked on what would be, at the time, the greatest season for a college quarterback in history. He led the country in total touchdowns (50) and passing yards per attempt (10.2), and led the SEC in passing efficiency rating (182.0) and rushing yards (1,473). He was the runaway winner for the Heisman and took the Tigers to the national championship. But the makings of that season didn’t start in preseason

Gersten from 1A

tributions to UNC occurred in a car and over the telephone. Gersten, a former high school basketball coach in New York, said he drove two of his former players to UNC’s campus to play ball there. One of those players was Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. What about the rumor that he was the person who recommended that Frank McGuire hire Dean Smith as his assistant? “I

Duke from 1A

Okafor and Winslow are touted as top-10 picks. All three said Wednesday they are just beginning the process of deciding whether or not their college careers are over. Okafor said he talked to his dad about it but had yet to meet with Krzyzewski and the Duke staff. “I love being here so much,” Okafor said. “Me and Tyus and Justise and Grayson, we had this plan coming here. I’ve known Tyus since the third grade. We’ve been planning to go to the same college since our freshman year (of high school). For it to end after nine or 10 months, it would kind of suck. But at the same time, it’s a business decision. There’s a lot of stuff to weigh out.” Winslow said a big part of him wants to stay because he has enjoyed his freshman year at Duke — both on and off the court — a great deal. “I’ve learned so much,”

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camp. During the winter and spring of 2010, Newton would assemble the receivers on their day off to work out. “He would call the wideouts on Saturday mornings and get them out of bed and say we need to go throw,” Chizik said. “At first they were a little bit resistant to it, and he was very adamant and persistent to make sure they were spending the extra time to do it. They hadn’t done a whole lot of that. He was the guy who rallied the troops and said, ‘Meet me over there. I’m going to be there whether you are or not.’ And they started to do that.” Newton is back at Auburn finishing his sociology degree and set to graduate this semester. Carolina’s voluntary offseason workouts begin Photo courtesy of Jeff Siner April 20, and it’s unclear how UNC football coach Gene Chizik coached now Carolina many, if any, he will miss Panthers quarterback Cam Newton at Auburn in 2010. because of school. absolutely was the guy,” Gersten said. “Here’s how that happened. Frank and I were good friends from way back. ... I was going to Florida, and I stopped by Chapel Hill to see him. He said ‘You’ve got to help me.’ “ McGuire was preparing to fire his assistant coach — yes, there was a time when head coaches had only one assistant — and he enlisted Gersten’s help. “First he said ‘Would you like the job?’ I said, ‘I can’t do it,’ “ Gersten recalled. “He said ‘Do me a favor, then. Go through this package of applicants.’ There were about 50 assistant coaches

who wanted to come to Carolina.” After studying the stack of candidates, Gersten said, he told McGuire to call the head coach at the Air Force Academy. “I said, ‘Why don’t you ask him about his assistant? He sounds great to me.’ “It didn’t turn out great initially,” he said, laughing heartily and recalling how Smith struggled in his first couple of years at UNC. “They hung him in effigy and tried to get rid of him.” Was being a college jock — in addition to basketball, he also was a baseball player and is the oldest living one of those,

too — a big deal in the 1930s and 1940s? I asked. “Almost as big a deal as it is now, but not quite,” he said. You might think that a former Tar Heel hoopster such as Gersten would be — like most UNC fans — in mourning over Duke’s championship win. One would think wrong. “I was delighted,” he said. “Almost went to Duke. I played against them 18 times, 10 in baseball, eight in basketball. I like Duke.” Oh well. Nobody’s perfect — even if he is in perfect shape for 94.

Winslow said. “From the standpoint of being a college student outside of basketball, I’ve had a great time at Duke.” He also said the decisions of Jones and Okafor could play a role in what he does. “Potentially it could,” Winslow said. “The relationships I’ve built with these guys, that could be a factor.” Jones agreed. “It will impact it,” Jones said. “It will impact it but at the same time each of us — myself, Justise and (Jahlil) — you have to do what’s best for yourself. It’s your future. Obviously we’re going to look at each other and what each other decides to do, but at the same time they have to make the right decisions for themselves and I have to do the same.” Capel said his decision to not move forward with Arizona State came down to how comfortable his family is in Durham and how much he enjoys working at Duke. “Basically came down to wanting to stay here at Duke,” Capel said. “Nothing to do with anything else really. There were a

lot of amazing things about the potential opportunity out there. It’s more about feeling at home, feeling a comfort level here and not wanting to leave.” With his family in Fayetteville and his wife’s family and their three children in school here, Capel said these decisions are different than when he was Virginia Commonwealth University’s head coach and left to become the University of Oklahoma’s head coach back in 2006. “I know eventually I’m going to have to leave here,” Capel said. “But we have roots here. I know eventually I will leave and I really, really want to be a head coach. Also I’ve been a head coach so it’s not like I’m chasing it. It’s not like that.” Krzyzewski increased Capel’s role with the program this season after Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski left their assistant jobs at Duke to become head coaches at Northwestern University and Marquette University over the last two seasons. During pre-game talks


Duke has three freshmen projected as first-round picks in the NBA Draft, according to

with the team, for instance, Krzyzewski wanted Capel to go over the game plan, too. “I just wanted one voice before a game besides mine,” Krzyzewski said. “He gave that voice. Then I give my voice. It’s good for me because they don’t get as tired of my voice. Jeff may say things in a certain way that’s better than me. We really worked well as a team.” Having been fired at Oklahoma back in 2011, Capel appreciates the job he has. “I feel an incredible sense of loyalty to coach,” Capel said. “It’s my program too. I have a great job. Not a good job, a great job. I’m fortunate to be in this profession because I know what it’s like to be fired. I’m very fortunate to be here at Duke.”

JOMC 457 April 10, 2015  

"JOMC 457: Advanced Editing" April 10, 2015 Sports section front for the Triangle Tattler

JOMC 457 April 10, 2015  

"JOMC 457: Advanced Editing" April 10, 2015 Sports section front for the Triangle Tattler