by Yankee Todd
The NCAA tournament is filled with many memories. One Shining Moment is the perfect song for the tournament. Can you believe that it has been 20 years since Christian Laettner hit his miracle shot to defeat Kentucky in the tourney?
The game couldn’t have had more twists and turns. Overtime. A chance to go to the Final Four. Two legendary coaches in Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino matching wits. Five lead changes in the last 30 seconds of overtime.
With 2.1 seconds left, Kentucky scored to make it 103-102.
The rest is history.
But to me, the tournament that was most special was the run that Loyola Marymount put together in 1990. During a West Coast Conference game, Hank Gathers, then 23, took an alley-oop pass from a teammate, dunked it, and hustled back on defense. Moments later, he collapsed and died.
The WCC tournament was canceled and Loyola Marymount now had to come together to play in the NCAA tournament.
They defeated New Mexico State 111-92, Michigan 149-115, in which guard Jeff Fryer hit 11 3-point shots and scored 41 points. They then defeated Alabama (led by Big Shot Bob) 62-60, and then fell to the UNLV team that was all-world 111-101.
Gathers’ boyhood friend, Bo Kimble had 42 points in that contest.
Who won’t remember the images of Bo Kimble honoring his fallen friend by shooting left handed free throws?
Said Coach Schott, “Hank was a terrific college basketball player. He led the country in scoring and rebounding. I once saw him drop 40 plus against LSU who had Shaq and Stanley Roberts down low. Gathers was relentless. He probably should have stopped playing after his first heart related incident. His love for the game basically killed him. I am sure he wouldn’t have wanted to go out any other way.”
@davechazzer had this take, “With all the national attention on UNLV and Duke that year, the best player in the country wasn’t on either of those teams. It was a guy who played for a small school that won by running you out of the gym. Everyone knew Hank was getting the ball and you couldn’t stop him. It’s impossible to think that the best player in the country could die right in front of you but that’s what happened. It still makes me sad thinking about it. I would have given anything to see them make a run in the tourney (against UNLV and Duke) with Hank. What could have been?”
I tweeted @GregAnthony50 for a comment about defeating Loyola Marymount but he did not respond.
What Syracuse fan doesn’t remember Keith Smart and the shot to defeat our Orange in 1987?
I do remember Coach Schott wearing a home-made white T-shirt he made bragging on Steve Alford and Keith Smart the following day.
A few others to remember and smile include:
Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh knocking down a three pointer on the break with less than 30 seconds left in the game to defeat Kansas.
Syracuse winning it all in 2003.
I asked Big E about Hank Gathers.
“I went to LaSalle basketball camp while I was in school. Lionel Simmons was the college player of the year in 1990 and real close to Hank and Bo. Plus John O’Connell from right outside Philly worked the camp. He went to Loyola and told us how they trained in the off-season. Lots of swimming and running till you puked. They worked weights while in the pool. L-Train, Doug Overton, Hank and Bo were all good friends. Those four, along with Brian Shorter, who went to Pitt, and Pooh Richardson (UCLA & NBA) were the dominant players in the public school leagues at that time. Brian Shorter scored 86 points in a game once. He went to Oak Hill for a year then went to Pitt when they started to get good in the Big East. That was a year before Jerome Lane, Bobby Martin, and Sean Miller (now Arizona’s head coach).”
If Tate George asks you to invest any money, it’s probably not a good idea to get involved with him. His requests now go up there with the Prince of Kenya who needs my bank account to deposit millions of dollars in wealth.
Rick Pitino has guided four teams to the Final Four in four different decades. That is an absolutely amazing fact to consider. The Louisville Cardinals are Coach Schott’s favorite team.
I heard this question asked on talk radio. How do you view the season that Syracuse had this year?
They had the best start of any Syracuse Orange team in school history. They only lost one conference game. They were the number one seed in the tourney and advanced to the Elite 8.
They weathered team storms worse than a central New York winter.
With those accolades, do you look at anything but a championship a failure?
The Syracuse Orange best player, Dion Waiters, announced that he would hire an agent and enter the NBA draft.
Waiters is one of my favorite players in college basketball and I think he will be an outstanding pro.
The Final Four is set.
Kentucky Vs Louisville and Kansas Vs. Ohio State.
Both games should be excellent games with terrific storylines.
Kentucky and Louisville are a natural in-state rivalry.
Kansas and Ohio State both are peaking at the right time.
I love the story line of Pitino and Coach Cal. Kentucky defeated Louisville earlier in the year but that can be thrown out the window.
Kentucky is loaded with talent but Louisville has the unique ability to hang around to the end and then make just enough plays to pull it out.
Kansas is extremely athletic and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger proved to be the reason the Orange didn’t advance to the Final Four.
I look forward to an excellent Final Four. My son and I will be in Houston, Texas this weekend. We plan to spend a guy’s night together watching the games.
As Big E put it recently, he sees Kentucky winning and then having to forfeit it in 2014 for some reason.
How about what Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves did against Oklahoma City and Denver.
All Love did was score 81 points and grab 35 rebounds over a two game stretch. Let me say that again, 81 points and 35 boards.
The only weakness in Love’s game is the fact he plays in Minnesota.
Said Coach Woods, who knows something about being a big man, “He has to be the most underrated big in the league…He’s even a legitimate threat from 3… You hear about a lot of players, but he never seems to be talked about in the that upper echelon of talent. Right now, it’s hard to argue he’s not the most productive big in the league.”
If he played in NYC, Chicago, Philly or LA, Love would be the king of that city.
Needless to say, Kevin Love is a ridiculous talent.
The Knicks were dealt a terrible blow with the news of Amare Stoudemire and his back injury. Stoudemire was playing like he was 25 again the last 10 days. If Amare and his back go down, so do the Knicks hopes of doing anything in the playoffs. It appears that Stoudemire could be back in 2-4 weeks, but is he going to be limited like he was in last year’s playoffs against the Celtics?
Couple the news of Stoudemire being sidelined with Jeremy Lin being day-to-day with some soreness in his knee. Lin dressed against the Bucks but did not play. Baron Davis, playing in his first start of the season, played well for the Knicks but you could see him lose his legs in the second half.
The Knicks give away far too many possessions with poor choices and turnovers. I quit counting the number of poor lob attempts that Landry Fields threw.
I love watching Tyson Chandler go after offensive rebounds. He is tenacious in his attempts to secure every rebound.
Bucks guard Mike Dunleavy was absolutely unconscious in the first half against the Knicks. If he wasn’t doing serious work against my team, I would have been able to appreciate the personal highlight reel that he produced at Madison Square Garden.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Knicks gutted a win out in a key playoff game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The game gave the Knicks some breathing room against the 9th placed Bucks. The Knicks also moved to 25-25 on the season.
Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points but appeared to tweak his groin. If Melo goes down, the Knicks could be in some serious trouble.
The team is so beat up, that practice was canceled for Tuesday.
The Knicks moved to 8-1 under Mike Woodson with their demolition of the Orlando Magic. This game had all the makings of a Knicks let down. They didn’t have Amare and Orlando had Dwight Howard. At the end, neither actually played tonight.
Iman Shumpert scored a career high 25 points and Melo, playing through pain, scored 25 points in only 26 minutes.
Steve Novak scored 16 points and JR Smith added 12 points off the bench.
The Knicks blew the barn doors off the Magic in the second and third quarter.
With the win, the Knicks moved 2.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks and within 2.5 games of the first place 76ers and Celtics. Yes, I said that right. Could the Knicks win the Atlantic Division?
Baron Davis, in his second start of the season, had 11 points and 6 assists.
It appears the Knicks have added a new player to the roster in Toney Douglas, a 6’3 guard from Florida State. Wait, Douglas has been on the team all year?
I guess everyone gets out of the dog house once in a while?
The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, flew to New Orleans and defeated them Saturday, and then returned home to defeat the 76ers on Sunday night.
In each of those games, Coach Pop was able to sit one of the big three each night, in Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili.
It seems that each button that Coach Pop pushes is the right one.
The recent acquisitions of Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw add to arguably the deepest bench in the NBA.
Let the circus music begin now.
Tim Tebow, the current back-up for the Jets, had a press conference that was on every local tri-state TV station.
He said all the right things and he is a nice guy but I think we are only just seeing the beginning of the circus.
I would love to see the Bill Parcells aka the Big Tuna come out of retirement to coach the New Orleans Saints for the year that Sean Payton is suspended.
He would be the perfect coach to step into the locker room, command respect of the team, and they will not miss a beat.
I have to start mentally preparing for the Yankees to open their season.
Jesus Montero, the former Yankee farmhand who was traded to the Mariners started the season 0-4.
Ray Lewis III committed to the University of Miami to play football. Lewis is a 5’9 185 pound running back. Lewis is considered one of the most talented running backs in the class of 2013.
In other recruiting news, Corey Robinson, the son of San Antonio Spurs legend, David Robinson committed to Notre Dame to play football. Robinson, a 6’4 wide receiver, had an excellent combine at the US Army High School All American Bowl in January and has received numerous offers from major division one schools.
As Big Game Philip James would say, “Notre Dame baby.”
On a side note, I always wondered why everyone loved Duke’s mayo so much until I tried it.
Follow me on twitter at yankeetodd1