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Elvin Hayes: The Big E 0

Posted on February 29, 2020 by Dean Hybl
Elvin Hayes

The Vintage Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month came to national prominence in college basketball’s “Game of the Century” and then won an NBA title while becoming one of the top players in league history.

A three-time college basketball All-American at the University of Houston, Elvin Hayes helped lead the Cougars to three straight NCAA Tournaments and a pair of Final Fours.

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Sports Moments in Time: 35 Years Ago Today – Bobby Knight Throws a Chair 0

Posted on February 23, 2020 by Dean Hybl

Few figures in college sports have towered over the domain as forcefully as that of Bobby Knight over college basketball for more than 30 years.  Known as “The General”, Knight retired in 2008 as the all-time winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball history with 902 victories (currently ranks 3rd) and is also credited with ensuring that his players were not just athletes, but true student-athletes.

However, his legacy is forever tarnished by his reputation as a bully and inability to control his anger sometimes both on and off the court.

Today, February 23rd, marks the 35th anniversary of one of his most famous blowups and in many ways the event that foreshadowed his fall from professional grace.

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In 2020, A Mid-Major Could Win The NCAA Championship For The First Time In 30 Years 0

Posted on January 25, 2020 by Dan Karpuc
UNLV won the 1990 NCAA Men’s Basketball title representing the Big West Conference.

The last time a mid-major program won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States. The 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels of the Big West Conference became the second mid-major in NCAA history to cut down the nets in that Tournament, joining the 1986 Louisville Cardinals, who were members of the Metro Conference at the time. Since then, just 13 mid-major teams have advanced to the Final Four and five have lost in the National Championship Game. Most recently Loyla-Chicago’s magical Final Four run as an 11th seed in 2018 captured the hearts of America. But, perhaps more than any time since 1990, there’s a strong likelihood that a mid-major program wins it all in 2020. 

Just one undefeated squad currently remains (No. 4 San Diego State: 19-0) and just two other teams in the AP Top 25 have only one loss (No. 1 Baylor: 15-1 and No. 2 Gonzaga: 20-1). A whopping 19 other teams in the Top 25 have three-plus losses, which is a clear indication that parity is at an all-time high. Even the experts who give out college basketball picks are having a tough time finding wins this year.Of those Top 25 teams, just Baylor and Gonzaga are undefeated against their ranked opponents, as well. Further, those two teams, along with San Diego State and No. 7 Dayton, are the only teams in the Top 25 with a perfect road record. 

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Classic Rewind: Reliving the Six Overtime Marathon Between Syracuse and Connecticut in the 2009 Big East Tournament. 0

Posted on March 15, 2019 by Chris Kent

It was one of the most entertaining games in the history of college basketball. The six overtime marathon of a battle between Syracuse and Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Tournament was for starters, thrilling. Adjectives are never ending in describing it. Phenomenal. Amazing. Exhausting. Climactic.

Syracuse players celebrate their thrilling six-overtime victory over Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Tournament on March 12 and 13.

Filled with the suspense and drama on when, not to mention if, the game would ever end, it was equally as attractive for  being a marquee matchup of two longtime Big East rivals lead by prestigious head coaches in Jim Boeheim of the Orange and Jim Calhoun of the Huskies. The glamour and glitz of New York City added to this game as the school’s dueled on the national stage of Madison Square Garden, known as the world’s most famous arena. Both teams were ranked in the AP Poll with Connecticut at No. 3 and Syracuse at No. 18. The sixth-seeded Orange and the third-seeded Huskies were also meeting for the fourth time in the last five seasons in the Big East Tournament with Syracuse having won the prior three matchups from 2005 through ’07.

In playing the longest ever game in the shot clock era, Syracuse and Connecticut tied for the second longest game in the history of NCAA Division I college basketball. Only two other games have ever gone six overtimes. Both those happened in the 1950’s when Minnesota beat Purdue 59-56 in 1955 and Niagara beat Siena 88-81 in 1953. The game was eclipsed in number of overtimes only by a game on Dec. 21, 1981 when Cincinnati beat Bradley 75-73 in seven overtimes. That game in 1981 tied for the most overtimes in the history of college basketball regardless of NCAA classification.

However overtime almost never happened for the Orange and Huskies.

Connecticut freshman guard Kemba Walker’s offensive rebound and layup with 1.1 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 71. Following a Syracuse timeout, Orange junior guard Eric Devendorf gathered a long inbounds pass off a deflection and quickly got off a 3-point shot that went in giving the Orange an apparent victory. However replays showed that the ball was still contacting Devendorf’s fingertips as the buzzer sounded and the basket was waived off by officials and the game went into overtime.

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William & Mary Reminds Us That College Basketball is Really a Business 0

Posted on March 13, 2019 by Dean Hybl
In 16 seasons as men’s basketball coach at William & Mary, Tony Shaver won more games than were won in the 20 seasons prior to his arrival.

It seems like a day doesn’t go by this time of year without another reminder that college athletics is really a major business that likes to pretend it is something more noble and altruistic.

Full disclosure that today’s example is a bit personal and especially frustrating for me because it involves a former colleague who has spent his entire career representing all the positive attributes that college sports supposedly are about.

After 16 years of success that is unparalleled in the history of William & Mary men’s basketball, the college has decided to part ways with 65-year-old head coach Tony Shaver.

In a statement, Athletic Director Samantha Huge said that “We have high expectations for our men’s basketball program, including participating in the NCAA tournament, and we will not shy away from setting the bar high. Now is the time to begin a new chapter in William & Mary basketball.”

That sounds all well and good, but what Huge seems to not understand is that prior to the arrival of Shaver, “high expectations” for the men’s basketball program basically meant double-digit victories every few years.

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Syracuse Rallies for Big Win at Duke 0

Posted on January 16, 2019 by Chris Kent

Committing three turnovers, four fouls, and shooting 0-for-3 including one missed layup – all which cause the head coach to make three substitutions over the first 3:02 of the game – is not a recipe for a win, especially against the number one team in the country on its’ home court. Add in the fact that you trail 12-0 before scoring your first point of the game and two of your team fouls are on your starting senior point guard who does not score in the first half, and you have even more of a hole to dig out of. However that is exactly what Syracuse did in a thrilling 95-91 road victory over No. 1 Duke on Monday Jan. 14 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC. It was the first victory for the Orange over a No. 1 ranked team since Jan. 19, 2013 when it won at Louisville, 70-68.

Tyus Battle elevates for a breakaway dunk during Monday’s thrilling overtime victory over No. 1 Duke.

Junior shooting guard Tyus Battle lead the Orange (12-5, 3-1) with 32 points and had four assists while junior forward Elijah Hughes shot 4-for-9 on three-pointers en route to 20 points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior center Paschal Chukwu added a career-high 18 rebounds and scored 10 points. Battle’s 32 points represented the most points ever scored by a Syracuse player against the Blue Devils. Duke (14-2, 3-1) was lead by freshman forward Zion Williamson who had a career high 35 points and 10 rebounds while freshman forward RJ Barrett fell one assist short of a triple double with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and 9 assists. Williamson’s 35 points were the most ever by a Blue Devil freshman in a single game.

The Orange were coming off a sluggish performance in a 73-59 home loss to Georgia Tech just 48 hours earlier on Jan. 12 in which they had their worst shooting performance of the season  (18-for-57, .316) in dropping their first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season. However all that was short lived as Syracuse made a quick turnaround to notch a marquee win. Meanwhile, Duke was coming off a thrilling 80-78 win at Florida State on Jan. 12, secured by a late three-pointer by freshman Cam Reddish with 0.8 seconds left to play.

Against the Orange, The Blue Devils assumed control early with a 12-0 lead three minutes into the game. However that would be the largest margin for either side the whole game. Although Reddish did not play at all and Duke starting point guard Tre Jones did not return to the game after suffering a shoulder injury while diving for a loose ball at the 14:23 mark of the first half, Syracuse still faced a major challenge. The Orange soon found its’ rhythm behind the play of Battle and Hughes who literally shot Syracuse back into the game. The Orange mounted a 17-6 run over the next five minutes to pull within one at 18-17. Battle and Hughes accounted for all of those points with Battle netting 12 and Hughes adding five. Each of them hit one three-pointer during the run. While the Blue Devils would push their lead to as many as six at the midway point of the first half, Syracuse would stay close. A 5-0 Orange run on a Hughes three and two free throws by Battle forced the game’s first tie at 29 with 6:38 left in the first half. A Battle free throw gave Syracuse its’ first lead of the game at 34-33 with 5:12 left. The teams would exchange leads over the last five minutes of the half which ended with Hughes converting a three-pointer on a three quarter court heave that beat the halftime buzzer bringing Syracuse to within one, 49-48. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Luis “El Tiante” Tiant
      April 6, 2021 | 1:52 pm
      Luis Tiant

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the ace of the Boston Red Sox staff when they reached the 1975 World Series and is considered by many to be someone worthy of induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Luis Tiant, known as “El Tiante”, spent 19 years in the majors between 1964 and 1982.

      Though he was 75-64 with a 2.84 ERA in six seasons with the Cleveland Indians and then helped the Minnesota Twins reach the playoffs in 1970, it appeared that Tiant’s career might be over following the 1970 season.

      Read more »

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