This year’s NCAA Cinderella is a Shocker. Ninth-seeded Wichita State of the Missouri Valley Conference knocked off #1 seed Gonzaga and #2 seed Ohio State in a surprising run to the Final Four. Wichita evoked memories of mid-majors like George Mason, VCU, and Butler, other recent tournament darlings who made it to the last dance.
For Wichita, it’s been quite the NCAA drought. The last time the Shockers advanced this far, in 1965, LBJ was President, “The Sound of Music” was released, the Beatles played at Shea Stadium and gasoline cost 31 center per gallon.
That year Wichita State survived the in-season losses of two future NBA players, All-American forward Dave Stallworth and center Nate Bowman. Stallworth’s eligibility expired in the middle of the season, and Bowman was declared academically ineligible.
Still the Shockers persevered. They were ranked No. 1 in the country in December, won the MVC by two games, then beat SMU and Oklahoma State to reach the Final Four in Portland, Oregon
The Shockers lost to eventual champion UCLA, coached by the legendary John Wooden, in the semifinals. In those days, the semi losers played in a consolation game for third place.
Wichita fell to Princeton 118-82 in a game in which Bill Bradley, pictured above, scored a Final Four record 58 points. That night, Bradley made 22-of-29 field goals and 14-of-15 free throws to set a record which has stood for nearly 50 years.
UCLA, led by guard Gail Goodrich, went on to beat Michigan and All-American Cazzie Russell for its second consecutive NCAA title. The Bruins, sparked by Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton and others, would go on to win 10 NCAA titles in a 12-year span.
Stallworth, Bowman, Bradley and Russell were all members of the New York Knicks 1970 NBA championship team. A year later, Stallworth was traded to the Baltimore Bullets along with Mike Riordan for Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. And Russell was dealt to the San Francisco Warriors for Jerry Lucas.
Bowman, who filled in for Willis Reed in that famed 1970 Game Seven against the Lakers and actually outscored the Knicks captain 6-4, was sent to the Buffalo Braves along with Mike Silliman for cash after the 1970 season. Bradley played his entire 10-year career with the Knicks and became both a Hall of Famer and a United States Senator.
Tempus fugit. It’s been 25 years since Peter Press Maravich, aka Pistol Pete, left us tragically in the winter of 1988. Many of his amazing exploits have been obscured by the haze of time, but Pete Maravich – floppy mop, droopy socks and skinny frame — was a basketball wizard. In Maravich, published in 2006, author Wayne Federman chronicles many of the Pistol’s exploits throughout his collegiate and NBA career. Here are 10 amazing Pistol Pete factoids you can use to impress your friends:
1. Pete Maravich, all-time scoring leader in college, averaged 44.2 ppg over three years at LSU. He holds numerous NCAA records, including as highest scoring average in a season (44.5 in 1969-70), most points in a career (3,667) and most points in a season (1,381 in 1969-70).
2. He scored 50 in more points 28 times in the NCAA, and scored 40 or more 56 times. He once scored 50 points three games in a row. He was a three-time All-American.
3. Maravich is one of only three players — along with Paul Arizin and Rick Barry — to lead both the NCAA and NBA in scoring.
4. He was selected third overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1970 NBA draft. behind Bob Lanier of St. Bonaventure and Rudy Tomjanovich of Michigan.
5. Pistol Pete led the NBA in scoring in 1976-77 with the New Orleans Jazz. He averaged a career-high 31.1 points per game that year.
6. That year he scored a career-high 68 points against the Knicks, setting a record by scoring the most points ever for a player who fouled out of an NBA game.
7. Imagine if Maravich, with unlimited range, had played during the three-point era. It wasn’t until his final season, split between Utah and Boston in 1979-80, that Pete played when the three-point rule was in effect.
8. Maravich, who averaged 24.2 ppg for his career, never got the championship ring he desired. He just missed in Boston, where the Celtics won in 1981, the year after he retired
9. Pistol Pete was only 40 when he died of heart failure while playing pickup basketball. It was later learned that he had been born with a dangerously malformed heart — his left coronary artery had never fully developed.
10. The plaudits rolled in when Pete died. Rick Barry called him, “the greatest ball handler I’ve ever seen in my life.” Magic Johnson said, “The passes he made were unbelievable. He was so ahead of his time.” And from Larry Bird: “When he stepped on the court, it was like wearing a sign. ‘Watch out. I know how to play this game.”‘
It’s a story that began more than 40 years ago at a small Jesuit liberal arts college in New England. The tapestry includes the United States Supreme Court, a Pulitzer Prize and the unbeaten 1972 Miami Dolphins.
In Fraternity, Diane Brady, a journalist for BusinessWeek, writes about five African American men who arrived at the College of the Holy Cross during the racially tense time of the late 60s and early 70s, and went on to great success in life. Brady describes the bonds between these men and their peers, and their connection with the Rev. John E. Brooks, later the President of Holy Cross, who convinced them to study at the college atop Mount St. James in Worcester, Mass.
The Fraternity five adorn the cover of the book. One of them, Eddie Jenkins, was a member of that perfect Dolphin team. The others are Jenkins’ HC roommate and star litigator Ted Wells ’72; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ’71; Pulitzer-Prize winning author of the novel The Known World; Ed Jones ’72; and former New York City deputy mayor and investment banker Stan Grayson ’72, who also played three years for the HC basketball team.
Jenkins, a running back, attended high school at St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn. He played in just three freshman games at HC before breaking a rib. All but two games of his sophomore season were wiped out because of the hepatitis outbreak which quarantined the entire team and forced cancellation of the remainder of the 1969 schedule.
The Crusaders were 0-10-1 in 1970, a UConn tie the only saving grace. But in a game at Boston University that year, Jenkins was on the receiving end of the longest pass play in HC history, a 99-yard touchdown completion from Colin Clapton. In that same game, Joe Wilson, who later played for the Bengals and the Patriots, set a school record with a 94-yard touchdown run.
Eddie Jenkins played in just 20 games at Holy Cross, and his teams won seven. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 11th round (285th overall) of the 1972 NFL draft. Jenkins sat below names like Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Jim Kiick on the Dolphin depth chart, and saw action as a special teams player.
Super Bowl Champions
He was on the field in the Los Angeles Coliseum, wearing #28, Dolphin aqua and orange, when Miami won the Super Bowl against the Washington Redskins and finished 17-0.
“We didn’t know it was going to be a perfect season,” Jenkins told the Worcester Telegram years later. “It just kept building. Honest, it was game by game. No one ever thought about this perfect season.”
After sitting out the 1973 season, Jenkins played for the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots and New York Giants in 1974. Following his NFL career, Jenkins studied law at Suffolk. He formerly worked in private practice, as a prosecutor, a labor lawyer,and later in several Commonwealth of Massachusetts executive positions. He is currently MassDOT’s chief diversity and civil rights officer.
Jenkins has two children. His son Julian, a former defensive end at Stanford, played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006.
SportsLifer Note: 1969-70 was my freshman year at the Cross. In December, 65 black students took a stand, threw down their student IDs and quit Holy Cross to protest a racially-tinged college ruling. Throughout the school year there were anti-Vietnam protest marches, the tragedy of Kent State and second semester closings at universities across the county, and a concert by The Who in the Holy Cross fieldhouse, just weeks after Woodstock. The HC football team was 0-2, losing to Harvard and Dartmouth before hepatitis hit.
Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak has held up for nearly 70 years. It’s one of 10 baseball records that will never be broken.
People like top 10 lists. They’re neat and tidy. They cut to the chase. They can be controversial. And they work. Ask David Letterman.
Throughout the past three years, the SportsLifer has posted a wide variety of top 10 lists. Here’s the top 10 of top 10s.
SportsLifer also appears on Bleacher Report, and this blog earned a gold medal with more than 5,000 reads. And it’s been grounds for debate, soliciting 39 comments on the SportsLifer web site alone.
Another Bleacher Report hit, this one led to a silver medal with 2,000 viewers.
An early SportsLifer blog, posted after Brett Favre retired from the Packers. Upon further review and based on his ill-fated comebacks, Favre slips from third to fifth, behind Dan Marino and Otto Graham.
One of the popular Lords of The Ringless postings, which also feature running backs, quarterbacks and MLB and NBA players.
A natural rivarly and a natural top 10. Did you know Horace Clarke knocked in the winning run in the longest game the Yankees and Red Sox ever played — 20 innings.
Art Monk, Washington Redskins wide receiver and NFL Hall of Famer, tops this homeboy list.
This list was sparked by the Giants upset of the previously unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That epic ranks second behind the Jets win over the Colts in Super Bowl III.
GOOD! HE DID IT! BRYCE DREW DID IT! VALPO HAS WON THE GAME A MIRACLE!” What a shot!
Who knew “Old Eagle Eye” had nearly 3,000 hits and and still leads all first baseman in putouts and total chances. Beckley retired after the 1907 season. Remember.
Bucky Dent’s home run in Boston in the 1978 Yankee-Red Sox game playoff game tops the list of games the SportsLifer has seen….in person.
1. 1992 — Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (OT) — Playing in a regional final and a chance to go to the Final Four, the Blue Devils and Wildcats scored on the final five possessions of the game, trading the lead each time. Kentucky took a 103-102 lead with 2.9 seconds left on Sean Woods’ crazy, 10-foot bankshot. Then Grant Hill threw the ball three quarters of the way down court to Christian Laettner, above, who turned and hit the winning shot at the buzzer. Laettner finished with 10-for-10 from the field and 10-for-10 at the foul line.
2. 1974 — NC State 103, Maryland 100 (OT) — The top-ranked Wolfpack overcame a 13-point first half deficit and endured in overtime to win the ACC Tournament. Rules at the time allowed only one of the teams to advance to the NCAAs, so the fourth-ranked Terrapins were left on the outside looking in . The game featured five players who received All-American honors in their careers — David Thompson and Tom Burleson of NC State and Tom McMillen, John Lucas and Len Elmore of Maryland — and 11 players drafted by the NBA.
3. 1957 — North Carolina 54, Kansas 53 (3OT) – The unbeaten Tar Heels outlasted Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks in the longest game in NCAA championship game history. Two free throws by Joe Quigg with six seconds left made the difference. UNC also played three overtimes in the semifinals, beating Michigan State.
4. 1974 — Notre Dame 71, UCLA 70 — Notre Dame put together one of the most improbable runs ever, scoring the final 12 points of the game to beat UCLA and end the Bruins 88-game winning streak. Dwight Clay’s jumper from the right corner with 29 seconds left gave the Irish the lead and they survived several UCLA attempts in the final seconds before celebrating, left.
5. 1983 — NC State 54, Houston 52 – The Wolfpack, sixth seeded with 10 losses during the season, won when it mattered most as Lorenzo Charles putback dunk at the final buzzer upset Houston’s heavily favored Phi Slama Jama. Few will ever forget the sight of NC State coach Jim Valvano racing around the court looking for somebody to hug after the final buzzer.
6. 2009 — Syracuse 127, UConn 117 (6OT) — In the Big East Tournament semifinals, the Orange outlasted the Huskies in six overtimes in the longest college basketball game ever played at Madison Square Garden. The contest took nearly four hours to complete and ended at 1:22 am. Syracuse returned later that night to win the Big East Championship against Pittsburgh.
7. 1985 — Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 – In a shocker, the Wildcats shot a tournament record .786 percent. They attempted 10 field goals in the second half and made nine. Georgetown was defending champion and the top seed, but fell short against eighth-seeded Villanova after beating another Big East foe, St. John’s, in the semifinals.
8. 1982 — North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62 — This was Michael Jordan’s coming out party, and the freshman hit the game-winning shot, a 16-foot jumper, below, with 15 seconds left, to give Tar Heel coach Dean Smith his first national championship. “I was all kinds of nervous,” Jordan said, “but I didn’t have time to think about doubts. I had a feeling it was going to go in.”
9. 1969 — Houston 71, UCLA 69 — It was hyped as the “Game of the Century.” A mid-season battle between two unbeaten teams. And it was played in front of 52,693 at the Astrodome, the largest crowd ever to watch a college basketball game at that time. Second-ranked Houston, led by Elvin Hayes, outplayed Lew Alcindor and #1 UCLA, ending the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak. Hayes outscored Alcindor, 39-15
10. 1964 — Michigan 80, Princeton 78 — Princeton’s Bill Bradley scored 41 points to give the Tigers a 12-point lead with less than five minutes to play, when he fouled out in this Holiday Festival game at Madison Square Garden. The top-ranked Wolverines rallied behind Cazzie Russell, who made the winning shot in the waning seconds. Both Bradley and Russell would later play in MSG for the Knicks.
Three Pointers….3 more for the ride
11. 1994 — Kentucky 99, LSU 95 — In the “Mardi Gras Miracle” the Wildcats engineered one of the great comebacks in NCAA history. Trailing by 31 points at halftime, Kentucky outscored LSU 62-27 in the second half for the win.
12. 1999 — USC 85, Oregon 84 – USC’s Adam Spanwich scored six points in the last 2.8 seconds, including a steal and half court heave that beat the buzzer and completed an incredible comeback
13. 1944 — Utah 42, Dartmouth 40 (OT) — Utah originally turned down an invite to the NCAA tournament, but was given a second chance after Arkansas pulled out of the tourney when two players were injured in an automobile accident. The Utes were the youngest NCAA champion in history, averaging 18 1/2 years age.
A few days aqo, I was clearing out a few things in my aunt’s basement when I stumbled upon a New York State license plate. Not just any New York license plate, a NY WORLD’S FAIR 64 plate with orange letters on a black background.
1964. The year the World’s Fair came to New York. Conjures up memories of class trips and family visits. Exhibits like General Motors, Johnson’s Wax and the State of Illinois. And Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Unisphere, shown below.
I became a teen-ager that year, entered eighth grade and discovered girls, not necessarily in that order. In 1964, the nation was dealing with the pain of JFK’s assassination. LBJ was President. The Civil Rights Act was signed.
In 1964, a gallon of gas cost 25 cents, and postage stamps were a nickel. My Fair Lady was the best picture and The Munsters premiered on CBS-TV.
The Beatles came on the scene in 1964. A huge earthquake rocked Alaska. Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco were born in 1964; so were Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage and Lenny Kravitz.
End of A Dynasty
In sports, the great Yankee dynasty was coming to an end….although few saw it coming. The Yankees would win their fifth straight American League before losing to St. Louis and a gritty Bob Gibson in the seventh game of the World Series in October, 1964. All that after Mickey Mantle’s walk-off homer in Game Three gave the Yankees a 2-1 win…and a lead in the series.
The Mets, meanwhile, had a new home, Shea Stadium, right next to the World’s Fair in Flushing. Phillies’ outfielder Johnny Callison hit a three-run home run to lift the National League to an All-Star win at Shea. And in September, the Phillies would blow the pennant, blowing a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games remaining.
The Giants, tumbled to a 2-10-2 record in 1964, this after winning five conference titles — and no championships — in the previous six years. The Cleveland Browns demolished the Giants, 52-20, on a rainy Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the final game of the regular season and went on to beat the Baltimore Colts, 27-0, for the NFL championship.
The Jets didn’t fare much better at 5-8-1. Another New York team, the Buffalo Bills, would defeat San Diego 20-7 for the AFL title.
And while the Knickerbockers (last) and Rangers (next to last) were languishing, the Boston Celtics were in the midst of an eight-year championship run. And the Toronto Maple Leafs were winning their third straight Stanley Cup.
UCLA won its first NCAA title in 1964; the Bruins beat Duke in the final. And Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide were national champions in football.
1964 was an Olympic year, and Billy Mills made his mark in the Summer Games in Tokyo when he became the only American ever to win the 10,000 meters. Bob Hayes won the 100-meter race, and Joe Frazier won gold in the heavyweight boxing division.
The term “streaking” was popularized by a reporter for a local Washington, D.C. news station as he watched a “mass nude run” take place at the University of Maryland in 1973. That nude run had 533 participants.
As the collected mass of nude students paraded past, the reporter exclaimed… “they are streaking past me right now. It’s an incredible sight!” The next day, the Associated Press reported the “streaking” incident and it generated nationwide coverage.
Although many streakers have used sporting events over the years to display their talents, the term has a different meaning in sports, referring to a hot team, or a club on a winning streak.
The most recent example of streaking in sports occurred last month, when Stanford defeated Connecticut, 71-59, and put an end to UConn’s 90-game winning streak, an NCAA women’s basketball record.
UConn fans accustomed to watching coach Geno Auriemma’s team blow past opponents hadn’t seen a loss since the 2008 NCAA semifinals — Stanford got the Huskies that time, too, 82-73 in the 2008 national semifinals.
The Wayland Baptist University women’s team actually achieved a 131-game winning streak from November of 1953 to March of 1958 before losing 46-42 to Nashville Business School. However, women’s basketball was not sponsored by the NCAA at that time, so Wayland Baptist played in the Amateur Athletic Union.
UCLA established the NCAA men’s basketball record by winning 88 straight games between January of 1971 and January of 1974. Like the UConn women, UCLA’s streak was sandwiched by losses to the same opponent, in this case Notre Dame, which came from behind to knock off the Bruins, 71-70, right.
On November 16, 1957, Notre Dame defeated streaking Oklahoma 7-0, ending the Sooners’ NCAA football record 47-game winning streak. Oklahoma’s streak began on October 10, 1953, when they defeated Texas 19-14 — two weeks after losing to Notre Dame and a week after a 7-7 tie with Pitt.
Professional Winning Streaks
The New England Patriots won 21 straight games between October of 2003 and October of 2004 before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-20, to set the NFL record.
Excluding playoff games, the Indianapolis Colts won 23 consecutive regular season games between November of 2008 and December of 2009 before the Jets knocked them off, 29-15.
During the 1971-1972 NBA season the Los Angeles Lakers ran off a NBA record 33-game winning streak. The Milwaukee Bucks ended the run with a 120-104 win over the Lakers on January 7, 1972.
On September 7, 1916, the New York Giants defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-1. The Giants would run off a 26-game winning streak, still the longest in baseball history, before losing to the Boston Braves, 8-3, on September 30. Included in that streak was a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader on September 18.
The MLB record for consecutive wins (without ties) was set by the Chicago Cubs with 21 straight wins in 1935. The Oakland A’s established the American League record with 20 wins in a row in 2002.
Towards the end of the 1992-93 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 straight games to set the NHL record. The Penguins tied the New Jersey Devils 6-6 in the final game of the regular season that year, and won three playoff games before losing to New Jersey, 4-2.
The Philadelphia Flyers strung together a 35-game unbeaten streak, including 10 ties, in the 1979-80 NHL season. The streak was snapped in a 7-1 loss to the Minnesota North Stars on January 6, 1980.
The Polo Grounds: Been there, done that.
1. I went to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds
2. I saw Ted Williams, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle homer…in the same game
3. I saw an NBA doubleheader…at the old Madison Square Garden
4. I remember when New York Football Giants games — even championship games – were blacked out at home
5. I saw Lew Alcindor play…in high school
6. I watched the Giants play at Yankee Stadium….and the Yale Bowl too
7. I saw the Rangers face off against the Bruins at the old Garden in the days of the Original Six
8. My Dad saw Babe Ruth play
9. I remember goalies without masks and canvas Cons.
10. I saw Honus Wagner play shortstop. NOT. I may be old….but not that old. Wanted to see if you were paying attention lol
Listening to all those annoying vuvuzela horns at the World Cup in South Africa reminds me of a swarm of bees. Commentators have described the sound as “annoying” and compared it with “a stampede of noisy elephants,” “a deafening swarm of locusts,”a goat on the way to slaughter” and “a giant hive full of very angry bees.”Ouch, dammit, just got stung!
Not a big soccer buff, but that gaffe by England’s keeper Robert Green that handed the United States a goal and ultimately a 1-1 draw with the favored Brits brought back memories of Bill Buckner.
BTW, why is England called England in the World Cup and the UK everywhere else?
These college conference shifts are making me dizzy. If this merry-go-round somehow turns into a football playoff system, it’s all good. If not, it’s bookkeeping .
Could’ve made some nice coin betting that Francisco Cervelli would have the same amount of RBIs as Joe Mauer (27) going into play on June 12.
Pete Carroll got out of Dodge just in time, leaving those USC penalties in his wake.
Playoffs make for strange heroes. The endearing image of the NBA Finals so far is little Nate Robinson hugging Glen “Big Baby “Davis aka Donkey and Shrek, shown right.
If we were living in an alternative universe and Butler’s Gordon Hayward had made that half-court heave to beat Duke, would it have gone down as the best shot in history? That’s a tough one, but well, the answer is yes. It beats Christian Laettner’s buzzer-beater, as well as any of Michael Jordan’s game winners. Jerry West made a 63-foot shot to send a playoff game into overtime in 1970, but the Knicks went on to beat the Lakers that night. Then there was Gene Sarazan’s double eagle at the 1935 Masters. And Bobby Thomson’s shot heard round the world, that helped the Giants win the pennant in 1951. Would any of those top Hayward? Not in this alternative world.
Speaking of college hoops, why is Jim Calhoun hanging on at UConn.
Is there a better Jack Nicholson than Randle Patrick McMurphy in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”? How about here’s Johnny, Jack Torrance, in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Or Melvin Udall in “As Good As It Gets.”
Tom Izzo isn’t taking that Cavaliers job unless he knows LeBron is coming back.
Do you think Patrick Kane would trade his name on the Stanley Cup for an Olympic gold medal? Kinda wondered the same thing about Sidney Crosy, but he’s already got both.
Is Brett Favre retired yet?
The Best of SportsLifer
First posted on April 13, 2009 by sportslifer
T.S. Eliot knew how to write, but sports wasn’t his strong suit.
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. “
– T.S Eliot, The Waste Land, 1922
Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot, the American-British poet, playwright and critic, may have been a member of the Literature Hall of Fame, but he didn’t know sports.
With apologies to old T.S., shown below, April is America’s best month for sports.
April, the rites of passage, the season of rebirth, where Opening Day signals the start of another baseball season.
April has the pageantry of the Masters, from Augusta National, the most beautiful golf course in the world.
Both the NBA and NHL playoffs begin in April, the second season for 32 basketball and hockey teams.
The NCAA Tournament may be heralded as March Madness, but the Final Four is an April event.
And finally there’s the NFL draft, one of the most popular events in the NFL outside of the Super Bowl.
What other months challenge April?
June has the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup, the U.S. Open, and the Belmont Stakes, last leg in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
October has the World Series, and peak activity in college and pro football to go with Fall foliage.
And February has the Super Bowl, the single biggest day in American sports, and the Daytona 500.
Give me April every time.