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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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Gone but not forgotten: 5 lost races of the Cheltenham Festival 0

Posted on March 03, 2019 by David Hay
The history of the Cheltenham Festival dates back more than 150 years.

Cheltenham hasn’t always been the location for the festival, with both Market Harborough and Warwick racecourses hosting the event in the 19th century. Since 1911, the permanent home of the festival has been Cheltenham’s Prestbury Park, although it had been held at Cheltenham on a few occasions prior to this.

The Cheltenham Festival always sees plenty of closely fought races, and the Cheltenham odds certainly suggest that this year will be no different. There are plenty of races to focus on at this year’s event, but what about races which no longer exist? We’ve taken a look at five of the races that are no longer run at Cheltenham.

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Remembering the Great Frank Robinson 0

Posted on February 07, 2019 by Dean Hybl

Frank Robinson-OriolesThe baseball universe is missing a major star today with the passing of all-time great Frank Robinson. Anytime you use the words “only” and “first” in someone’s biography, you know that they were probably quite special.

That is certainly the case for Robinson during his playing days as well as throughout his career as a manager and administrator.

There are many superlatives to share about what Robinson accomplished on the field, but one thing that makes him stand out is that he remains the only player in Major League Baseball history to earn the Most Valuable Player Award in both the American and the National Leagues.

Starting his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956, Robinson blasted 38 home runs and was named the National League Rookie of the Year. He quickly joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente as one of the elite outfielders in the National League.

In his first seven major league seasons, Robinson eclipsed 30 home runs six times and the other season hit 29. He was a regular .300 or better hitter and annually ranked near the top of the league in runs batted in.

He reached new heights during the 1961 campaign when he was named the National League MVP while leading the Reds to the National League Pennant and a spot in the World Series. He hit 37 home runs with 124 RBI and a .323 batting average. Read the rest of this entry →

Iron Man Randy Smith 0

Posted on February 02, 2019 by Dean Hybl

Randy Smith-BravesThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month may have had a pretty common name, but his iron man streak as an NBA player was anything but ordinary.

In a streak that lasted more than a decade, Randy Smith played in 906 consecutive NBA games to establish an NBA iron man record that lasted more than a decade.

That Smith made it to the NBA at all was somewhat of an underdog story.

A three-sport standout at Bellsport High School in Long Island (basketball, soccer and track), Smith also was a three-sport All-American at Division II Buffalo State College. He helped lead the Bengals to three straight basketball conference championships and a spot in the 1970 Division II Final Four. Read the rest of this entry →

50 Years Ago: Joe Namath and the Jets Shock the World 0

Posted on January 11, 2019 by Dean Hybl

Joe Namath dominated the attention prior to Super Bowl III, but few expected his team to win.

Joe Namath dominated the attention prior to Super Bowl III, but few expected his team to win.

With apologies to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the most shocking sports victory of the 1960s took place 50 years ago on January 12, 1969 when the underdog New York Jets lifted the fortunes of an entire league by defeating the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Though the American Football League (AFL) was completing its ninth season and the champions of the AFL and National Football League (NFL) were meeting for the third straight year, most people did not consider the two leagues to be equal. In fact, it is reported that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle believed it might be another decade before the AFL would be an equal to the NFL and that a new format for the Super Bowl might be needed.

In hindsight, we know that the two leagues were indeed much closer in competitiveness than Rozelle believed, but at the time his reasoning was hard to argue against. The NFL Champion Green Bay Packers had claimed the first two Super Bowls by a combined margin of 68-24 and the current NFL Champion Baltimore Colts were perhaps an even more dominant champion than Green Bay.

While the Colts were an established NFL power, the New York Jets were an AFL upstart that had just completed the second winning season in franchise history and were making their first-ever trip to the playoffs.

However, one “ace in the hole” for the Jets was roaming their sidelines. Head Coach Week Ewbank had won two NFL Championships during his nine year tenure as coach of the Baltimore Colts. After moving to the Jets, he had taken the team from a basement dweller to league champions.

During both his time with the Colts and the Jets, Ewbank had the benefit of having an elite franchise quarterback leading the offense.

In Baltimore, he turned Johnny Unitas into an all-time great. Though New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath had not yet reached that status level, in 1967 he did become the first quarterback in pro football history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Iron Man Randy Smith
      February 2, 2019 | 5:58 pm

      Randy Smith-BravesThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month may have had a pretty common name, but his iron man streak as an NBA player was anything but ordinary.

      In a streak that lasted more than a decade, Randy Smith played in 906 consecutive NBA games to establish an NBA iron man record that lasted more than a decade.

      That Smith made it to the NBA at all was somewhat of an underdog story.

      A three-sport standout at Bellsport High School in Long Island (basketball, soccer and track), Smith also was a three-sport All-American at Division II Buffalo State College. He helped lead the Bengals to three straight basketball conference championships and a spot in the 1970 Division II Final Four.

      Read more »

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