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In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.

~ Sam Huff                    



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He Just Doesn't Get It
by Andy Pollin
Jul 18, 2014 -- 2:41pm
Randy Edsall

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

     I want to like Maryland football coach Randy Edsall.  I really do.  Yet every time I’m ready to clean the slate and give him another chance, he says something that makes me shake my head. 

     After inheriting the 9-4 team left behind by Ralph Friedgen in 2011, Edsall proceeded to go 2-10 in his first year.  That was bad enough, but he seemed to take every opportunity he could to throw Friedgen under the bus for what he perceived to be an undisciplined bunch that he (Edsall) was left to deal with.  That was reeeally classy.

     Edsall’s second year, 2012, pretty much has to be thrown out.  Maryland suffered unbelievable bad luck, losing four quarterbacks to leg injuries.  They wound up playing their last three games with a backup linebacker playing quarterback.  The 4-8 record was about as good as could be expected under the circumstances.

     Last season included more bad luck with injuries, but there were at least enough quarterbacks to make it through the season.  With wins in two of their last three regular season games, Maryland made it to a bowl game – the Military Bowl, where they lost to Marshall 31-20 for a 7-6 final record.  After two terrible years, at least Edsall was able to bring the program back to respectability.  I was okay with that, until…Edsall made a statement at an event in Baltimore about Maryland’s move to the Big 10 next season. 

     As reported in the D.C. Sports Bog in the Washington Post, Edsall said, “As a football coach, I feel better because I’m going to a football conference.  I’m not in a basketball conference anymore.”

     Huh?  Does Edsall think he’s living back in 1975?  Did he not take notice of the school from the “basketball conference”, the ACC, that went 14-0 and won the national championship?  Surely he must have noticed when that basketball conference school, Florida State, beat his team 63-0 last fall.  He also may have forgotten that another school from that “basketball conference”, Clemson, beat his team at Byrd Stadium 40-27. 

     He may also not have noticed that with Florida State finishing number one in the country and Clemson winding up number eight, that the ACC had more teams in the top 10 in the final Associated Press Poll than his new “football conference”.  The only Big 10 team in the top 10 was Michigan State at number three.  And in the entire top 25, the Big 10 had only one more team than the ACC, with Ohio State ranked 12th and Wisconsin 22nd

     Enjoy your new home Randy.  I guess you think your 13-24 record at Maryland in that silly old basketball conference makes you good and ready to take on football teams from a real conference.  Lots of luck.

 

Teddy Don’t Use That Number

 

     A number of years ago, while talking to then solely Caps owner Ted Leonsis on the Sports Reporters, Steve Czaban said he would like to see Mike Gartner’s number 11 retired.  Czabe said Gartner was his favorite player growing up.  Ted said he’d throw the idea out on his blog and see what the response was.

     The next time he appeared, Ted said there didn’t seem to be much interest in that idea.  A few years later however, Gartner’s number was rightfully retired.

     Well, now that Ted owns the Wizards, as well as the Caps, I’d like to see him retire Phil Chenier’s number 45.  I’ve talked about it on the air and written about it in this space, but haven’t heard anything about a possible retirement of the number of one of the great players in franchise history.

     So far, the organization has retired only four numbers – all for players who wore Bullets uniforms, not Wizards.  They are Wes Unseld (41), Elvin Hayes (11), Gus Johnson (25) and Earl Monroe (10).  Unseld and Hayes played both in Baltimore and Washington, Johnson and Monroe played solely in Baltimore.

     Chenier not only belongs in that group, but was as important as Unseld and Hayes in transitioning the team from Baltimore to D.C.  They were the three big stars on a team that was in the NBA finals only three years after moving to town.

     Now we have a real test case for number 45.  The Wizards have just traded for DeJuan Blair.  He wore 45 at Pitt, at San Antonio, and last year at Dallas.  He even has 45 tattooed on his left bicep.  That doesn’t come off, but the number on his jersey should.

     If anybody has a sense of history in the Wizards organization, Blair should be asked to select another number.  And on top of that, with Chenier now completing 30 years as one of the team’s television announcers, it’s time he gets the recognition he deserves by hoisting 45 to the Verizon Center rafters.

     The Redskins have officially retired only one number, Sammy Baugh’s 33.   However, they’ve had a policy not to issue numbers worn by former greats such as Sonny Jurgensen (9), John Riggins (44), Charley Taylor (42) and even Joe Theismann (7), who won’t be in the Hall of Fame. 

     It wasn’t a problem until Steve Spurrier arrived as head coach in 2002.  He was all set to let Shane Matthews wear number 9 and Danny Wuerffel wear number 7, until enough of a fuss was kicked up by the fan base to have Matthews switch to 6 and Wuerffel to 17. 

     That seemed to solve the problem for most people, except for a few like me that noticed backup tight end Leonard Stephens was issued number 49.  That was the number worn by Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell.  He not only was a great player, he was the first African American player in franchise history in 1962.  I let the Redskins know about the mistake, but they decided not to do anything about it.

     Mitchell retired at the end of that season, bitter about the treatment he’d received in his 40 years with the organization.  He said the final straw was seeing his number given out.  It was sad to see a great man like that go out in that manner.

      A player’s number matters to the player and to the fans who saw him play.  And don’t think it’s a small thing.  Here’s hoping that when the 2014-15 NBA season rolls around, we’ll see number 45 in the Verizon Center rafters, not on DeJuan Blair’s back.

 

 

 


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Everything Old Is New Again
by Andy Pollin
Jul 11, 2014 -- 1:31pm
Andy Pollin Blog on ESPN 980

(AP Photo/Lori Shepler, File)

     So after all that, LeBron James is going home.  With a pair of championship rings the size of hubcaps on a Buick, earned in Miami, LeBron is back in Cleveland to try and win more.  It’s a great story that could have one of the great sports endings of all time.

     Imagine where LeBron would stand in the history of Cleveland if he delivers a championship to a rust belt city that hasn’t had a title of any kind since 1964.  The question now is, do the ends justify the means?

     Since LeBron and the Heat were beaten in the NBA finals last month, he kept the entire league on hold while he decided where he wanted to play next.  The first part of July was a virtual circus while ESPN seemingly went round the clock on LeBron.  Ultimately he not only winds up back home, but also in the best basketball situation.  The Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving under a long-term contract and have the flexibility to possibly make a deal for Kevin Love.  LeBron, Irving and Love are a better big three than LeBron, Bosh and Wade, especially at the stages of their careers.

   Old timers will say it didn’t work this way in the old days.  Players didn’t change teams to chase rings.  They didn’t just decide where they wanted to play.  They did their best to make the teams that drafted them or traded for them as strong as they could possibly be.  Maybe, but not in every case.

     I offer you three trades that were made over a three-year period that had star players going where they wanted to go, long before free agency entered the NBA:

 

July, 1968 – The Philadelphia 76ers trade Wilt Chamberlain to the Los Angeles Lakers for Darrell Imhoff, Archie Clark and Jerry Chambers.  Wilt was arguably the best player in the league at the time.  He averaged 24 points and 24 rebounds a game during the 1967-68 season.  The season before, he’d led the 76ers to the championship.  Why would a savvy basketball man like Philadelphia general manager Jack Ramsay trade a superstar for three journeymen players?  As story goes, Wilt had fallen in love with the beaches of Los Angeles.  He liked to play volleyball there in the offseason and had built himself a mansion befitting his 7-foot frame.  He wanted to play in LA and told Ramsay he would jump to the rival ABA unless he was traded to the Lakers.  Ramsay made the best deal he could.  And in joining the Lakers, Wilt had his own big three with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.  With West, Wilt would win a title in 1972, but that was his only title in five years with the Lakers. 

 

April, 1970 – The Cincinnati Royals trade Oscar Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Flynn Robinson and Charley Paulk.  Few would not put Oscar on their list of the 20 greatest players of all time.  One season he averaged a triple double for the entire year.  He’d spent nearly a decade in Cincinnati on a team that never got close to a title.  At the end of the 1969-70 season, he told the Royals to trade him.  He wanted out, but rejected a deal that would have sent him to the Baltimore Bullets for Gus Johnson.  Oscar exercised a clause in his contract to turn down the deal.  He accepted the trade to Milwaukee because it paired him up with Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and upped his salary from an already high for the time, $125 thousand to $175 thousand.  Playing with Alcindor, Oscar won his only championship with a sweep of the Bullets in the 1971 finals. 

November 1971 – The  Baltimore Bullets trade Earl Monroe to the New York Knicks for Dave Stallworth, Mike Riordan and cash.  This was more about money than chasing a ring.  Monroe and the Bullets had played Milwaukee for the title months before.  The problem here was money.  Monroe wanted to collect deferred money from his contract up front.  The Bullets insisted he would get the money down the line, as the contract called for.  Less than two months before the season opener, Monroe demanded to be traded.  The season opened with Monroe still on the roster.  He actually played three games, but then left the team.  After two weeks, the Bullets caved and dealt him to the Knicks.  Monroe would get his title two seasons later, but had to change his game to fit in with Walt Frazier in the Knicks backcourt.  He had a Hall of Fame career, but in New York we never got to see the real Earl “The Pearl”.  To understand, look at the script from the Spike Lee movie, “He Got Game”.  Jake Shuttlesworth, played by Denzel Washington, explains to his son played by Ray Allen, why he was given the name, Jesus:

 

Jake:My all-time favorite ballplayer was Earl Monroe. Earl the Pearl. Yeah, he was nice. See, everybody remember him from the Knicks, you know, when he helped win that second championship and everything like that. But I’m talking about when he was with the Bullets down at Winston-Salem Stadium… before that game, with 42 points a game the whole season. 41.6… the whole season. But the Knicks, they put the shackles on him, man, you know, on his whole game. They locked him up, like in a straitjacket or something. When he was in the streets of Philly, the playgrounds, he was like… You know what they called him? Jesus. That’s what they called him… Jesus, ‘cause he was the truth. Then the white media got a hold of it. Then they got to call him Black Jesus. He can’t just be Jesus, he got to be Black Jesus, you know. But still… he was the truth. So that’s the real reason why you got your name.

Jesus: You named me Jesus after Earl Monroe, and not Jesus in the Bible?

Jake:Not Jesus of the Bible, Jesus of North Philadelphia. Jesus of the playgrounds. That’s the truth, son.

 

     LeBron is back in Cleveland, thanks to new way of doing business in the NBA.  Although, the new way may not be all that much different from the old way.


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We Are the Luckiest
by Andy Pollin
Jul 04, 2014 -- 10:51am
ESPN 980

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)

Seventy -five years to the day that Lou Gherig declared himself, “The luckiest man on the face of the earth,” I sit here typing the stories of two others who embraced the spirit of the “Iron Man.”  Staring adversity in the eye and not backing down is what made Gherig an American legend and what makes Brendan Marrocco heroic and made Louis Zamperini a hero.  A profile of Morrocco and the death of Zamperini have come, fittingly, just before Independence Day.

     Marrocco is a 27-year old wounded warrior from Staten Island, New York, profiled in the Washington Post this week.  And in his case, wounded, may be one of the most understated words ever.  Marrocco is the first service man from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive the loss of four limbs.  An explosion in 2009 cost him both legs and parts of both arms.  But his never-say-die attitude made Marrocco a candidate for groundbreaking surgery.  He became the first serviceman, and only the seventh person in U.S. history to undergo a double arm transplant. 

     Eighteen months later, he’s rehabbing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.  Marrocco is able to pull ups, push- ups and drive a car.  He’s active on Facebook, where he lists himself as, “wounded warrior – very wounded.”

     The closest Brendan Marrocco will come to complaining about his tedious rehab is to say, “I’ve got to admit, it does suck at times.”  But is quick to add, “Has to be done.  It doesn’t matter how tired or hung over you are.”

     While seemingly channeling Lou Gherig, Marrocco says, “I’ve been lucky enough to have things go pretty well for me since I got hurt.  I’m happy.  I don’t have any demons in the sense of what happened to me.”

     Louis Zamperini is name you should be familiar with if you’ve read the best seller, “Unbroken”, written by Laura Hillenbrand (another Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School graduate who knocks me further down the list of “notable alums”).  That book is about to become a movie directed by Angelina Jolie scheduled to be released Christmas Day.  Zamperini died this week at the age of 97 – more than 70 years after the United States told his family that he was dead.

     Zamperini is a true American story.  The son of immigrant Italian parents, he went on to become a track star at USC, winning two NCAA championships in the mile.  He ran in the 1936 Olympics as a 19-year old.  He was expected to be a gold medal contender at the 1940 games, which never took place because of World War II.

     Like many Americans at that time, Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Forces.  On a search-and-rescue mission in 1943, Zamperini’s plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean.  He and two other crewmen managed to climb into a rubber life raft that had few provisions. 

     With methods that included catching birds and using their insides as fish bait, they were able to survive long past a time when the U.S. government had given up hope.  One of the crew died, but Zamperini and Russell Phillips stayed afloat for an incredible 47 days.

     Their rescue should have been the end of the ordeal, but it was just beginning.  Captured by the Japanese, they were sent to separate POW camps.  It was there that Zamperini endured daily beatings after refusing to denounce his country.

     Finally released after the Japanese surrender in 1945, Zamperini married and moved to California, where his life went on out of the spotlight for more than 60 years.  It wasn’t until the release of “Unbroken” in 2010 that most became aware of his incredible story.

     Not surprisingly, Zamperini struggled with alcohol in his post-war years that left him with painful memories.  But a revival meeting led by Billy Graham in 1949 that he attended with the encouragement of his wife, helped him to find peace.  He even traveled back to Japan several times and attempted to forgive the sadistic prison guard who had beaten him, but the guard refused to meet with him.

     We all face adversity in life, but reading about the lives of men like Brendan Marrocco and Louis Zamperini helps you realize no mountain is too steep to climb.  The American spirit, embodied by these heroes, lives on from generation to generation.

     Lou Gherig called himself, “The luckiest man on the face of the earth,” two years before ALS completed sucked the life out of him.  On our nation’s birthday, and 75 years after those chilling words from the “Iron Horse”, it’s a good time to realize, no matter what you may be going through, we as Americans are in fact, the luckiest.


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Significance? Try These Comparisons
by Andy Pollin
Jun 28, 2014 -- 2:29pm

 

Most significant NFL players of the 90s

(AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

We are actually in the NFL’s offseason.  The OTA’s and mini camps are over.  Other than free agent signings here and there, nothing happens until teams report to training camp in late July.  But at the NFL Network, football never sleeps.  So, last Friday they put out a tweet asking who the most significant player of the 1990’s was.  The choices – Deion Sanders, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Reggie White, Barry Sanders and John Elway.  All six are in the Hall of Fame.  All except Barry Sanders won Super Bowls.

Recognizing that the question asks about, significance, not greatness, here is how I rank the six

And…with that list completed, it got me thinking about the most significant Redskins of the 1980’s.  A 90’s list wouldn’t be worth the brain exertion, given the two six-win, four-win and three-win seasons made it mostly a lost decade outside of the Super Bowl championship after the 91 season.

Here is my list of the most significant Skins of the 80’s


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You Don't Say, Pat?
by Andy Pollin
Jun 21, 2014 -- 11:25am
Lebron James and Pat Riley

Miami Heat president Pat Riley, left, and Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale greet LeBron James (6) after Game 7 of the NBA basketball championship, Friday, June 21, 2013, in Miami. The Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 to win their second straight NBA championship. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

 

     When you make a living, like I do, commenting on sports news, a week off can be a long time to not babble on the air about something that rankles me.  Had I been on the air this week (I did make a visit on Thursday to discuss the controversy over the Redskins trademark), I would have had some things to say about the end-of-season news conference held by Miami Heat president Pat Riley.  While not specifically mentioning LeBron James and the possibility that he may opt out of his deal (and CBS Sports is now reporting that the Houston Rockets will go all out for LeBron), Riley said:

 

“You have to stay together if you got the guts.  You don’t find the first door and run out of it.  You got to deal with it.  You have to come back.”

 

Really Pat?

 

     Riley’s comment was made almost 19 years to the day after he FAXED in his resignation to the New York Knicks, with a then record, $15 million, 5 year deal to return as head coach sitting on the table.  Riley, a New York native, had been hired four years earlier to try and deliver the Knicks first championship in nearly two decades.  He’d come close, losing to the Rockets in the finals in seven games two years before.  His last season ended with in the second round of the playoffs.  However, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley, still in their primes at 32 and 31, had battled injuries that season.  Michael Jordan had returned to the NBA at the end of that season, but Riley could not have known that His Airness would own the league for the next three years.  Maybe Riley didn’t have “the guts” to “deal with it.”

     In his fax, Riley said his departure, “had nothing to do with money.”  He wanted say over personnel.  The man Knicks president Dave Checketts had hired for that job?  You may have heard of him – Ernie Grunfeld. 

     Well, Riley got the power he wanted in Miami, but also got the money.  As it turned out, while still under contract to the Knicks, Riley had secretly negotiated a $40 million deal plus 10% ownership of the Heat.  That’s tampering.  When that got out, the Knicks were awarded $1 million plus Miami’s first round pick.  After a couple of deals, the pick turned into Latrell Sprewell.

     In hindsight, the Knicks probably should have given Riley the power he wanted.  They did beat his Heat to get to the finals in 1999, but Ewing was hurt and they were swept by San Antonio.  They haven’t been back.  Riley has since delivered three titles to Miami, including the team he coached in 2006.  Winning titles is what it’s all about, but with your track record Riles, saying, “You have to come back,” tends to ring hollow.  What goes round, comes round.  That’s the facts.  Or the fax.

 

Consistency

 

     You know I like to read from the obituaries on my show.  I believe some of the most interesting reading is found there.  I love to find out unknown nuggets about the lives of well-known people.  This past week, we lost three iconic men – two from sports and one from the entertainment world.  What ties all three of them together is incredible consistent success. 

     One coached, one played and one played the hits.  The coach, Chuck Noll of the Steelers, the player, Tony Gwynn of the Padres and the entertainer, Casey Kasem did what they did for more than 20 years.  In the case of Kasem (I like the way that sounds), it was more than 30 years. 

     Each was unique in his skill and personality, but they were very much the same in their drive and quest for sustained excellence.

     Noll took over one of the worst performing teams in NFL history in 1969 and became the only man to win four Super Bowls over the next 23 years.  He had an eye for talent and a method for bringing out the best in all of them.  He probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he didn’t look for it.  He told newspaper reporters looking for a good quote, “Empty barrels make the most noise.” 

     Even winning Super Bowls didn’t make him chatty.  “The thrill isn’t in the winning,” Noll said, “It’s in the doing.”

     Gwynn, who died far too young at 54, was a hitting machine.  Starting in 1983, he went on to hit .300 or better 19 consecutive years.  That’s second only to Ty Cobb, who retired in 1928.  Unlike Noll, Gwynn was talkative and friendly, but like Noll he never sought the spotlight.  Many times, he passed up bigger bucks in free agency to take the hometown discount to stay in San Diego.  And after retiring in 2001, Gwynn passed up easy television money to become the coach at his alma matter, San Diego State.  Among those he sent to the majors, Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg. 

     Kasem spent 34 years, 1970 to 2004, hosting “American Top 40”, a weekly countdown of the Billboard hits.  It was a Sunday morning staple for me on WPGC growing up in the 70’s.  That would be WPGC AM.  Neither of my parents cars had the FM band on the radio. 

     Kasem was a master of weaving in little background stories on each record, along with sometimes tear-jerking long distance dedications.  And the music was of every variety.  These days, radio is all about finding your target market.  Like Babe Ruth, Casey Kasem touched ‘em all.  As Marc Fisher wrote in his outstanding tribute in the Washington Post, “On a single Sunday in 1977, Kasem played Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights,” the Spinners’ “Rubber Band Man,” Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night,” Bill Conte’s “Theme from Rocky,” The Electric Light Orchestra’s “Telephone Line” and KC and the Sunshine Band’s “I’m Your Boogie Man.”  Somehow it continued to work for over three decades, making Casey Kasem a giant in the radio world.

     I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve managed to stay with Sportstalk 570 and ESPN 980 for 22 years.  I try to consistently give my best effort.  But I stand in awe of three men who helped set the standard for consistency of excellence.  Rest in peace Chuck Noll, Tony Gwynn and Casey Kasem.  You’ve earned it.


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Deflating Losses
by
Jun 08, 2014 -- 11:24am

 

California Chrome
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

 

     If you were like me, rooting for California Chrome to win the Triple Crown, perhaps you felt a bit deflated watching him finish out of the money in the Belmont.  It got me thinking about the most deflating losses I’ve seen for local teams over the last 40 years.  Here now is my top-five list, going in descending order to the most deflating: 

 

5.  March 31, 2001 – Final Four, Minneapolis, Duke 95 – Maryland 84

This was the fourth meeting of the year between the two ACC powerhouses.  On Super Bowl eve, January 27th at Cole Field House, Duke had come from 10 points down with 54 seconds left to send the game into overtime and win 98-96.  But a month later, Maryland went to Durham and spoiled Shane Battier’s senior night by winning 91-80.  Their third meeting was in the ACC tournament two weeks later and Duke won 84-82.  After the game, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told Terps coach Gary Williams not to be surprised if they were to meet again in the Final Four.  That’s in fact what happened and Maryland not only looked like they were going to win, it looked like a mismatch early.  The Terps led by 22 in the first half.  Duke made a run, but it was still an 11-point lead at the half.  However, with the help of some questionable calls, Duke took over in the second half of the second half.  Jayson Williams hit a three-pointer with less than seven minutes left to give Duke its first lead of the game.  The 22-point comeback stands as the largest in the history of the Final Four.  Battier finished as the leading scorer with 25.  Two nights later, Duke beat Arizona for the National Championship.  A year later, most of the Maryland team returned to win the title, beating Indiana, which had upset Duke in the Elite Eight.

 

4.  October 12, 2012 – NLDS, Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.  Cardinals 9 – Nats 7

This was the decisive fifth game of the series.  The day before, Jason Werth had hit a walk off homer to tie the series at two.  A win on this night would mean home field advantage for the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.  Much like Maryland more than a decade earlier, early on it looked like it was a going to be a blowout and night for celebration.  Nope.  In the third inning, the Nats had gone up 6-0 on a homer from Bryce Harper and a two-run shot from Michael Morse.  Then St. Louis started chipping away.  Daniel Descalso homered in the eighth to cut it to 6-5, but in the bottom of the inning, Kurt Suzuki singled in a run to give the Nats some breathing room at 7-5.  Then came the ninth.  The ball went to closer Drew Storen, who had been solid all year.  And twice he was a strike away from giving Washington its first postseason series win in 78 years.  Twice he couldn’t quite do it, walking Yadier Molina and David Freese.  Descalso made him pay with a two-run single to tie it.  And then Pete Kozma, who will forever be a nightmare in the annals of D.C. sports fans, singled in two more for the wining margin.  A year later, the Nats failed to get back to the postseason and will need to pick it up if they expect to get back this year.

 

3. April 1, 1985 – National Championship Game, Lexington, Ky.  Villanova 66 – Georgetown 64

This was not only expected to be a win for the Hoyas, it was expected to be a coronation.  A win would put them alongside Bill Russell’s University of San Francisco teams of the 50’s and the UCLA teams of the 60’s and 70’s as repeat champions.  Villanova seemed to stand little chance against Patrick Ewing’s last team.  The CBS announce team of Brent Musberger and Billy Packer had prepared material to keep viewers interested once the expected Georgetown blowout was underway.  It would take a perfect game for Villanova to win.  Guess what?  Villanova played a perfect game.  With the shot clock not yet in college basketball, Villanova rarely shot.  And when they did, they went in.  For the night, the Wildcats attempted only 28 shots, hitting 22 for 78%.  Dwayne McClaine was the leading scorer with 17 on only seven shots!  Harold Jensen went five for five.  If it’s not the biggest Final Four upset of all time, it’s right there with NC State’s victory over Houston two years earlier.

 

2.  March 9, 1974 – ACC Championship Game, Greensboro, NC.  NC State 103 – Maryland 100 OT

Many consider it to be the greatest college basketball game ever played.  The losing team shot 62% and there was only one turnover in the entire game.  The reason it’s so deflating, this was the last year that only the conference tournament champion went to the NCAA Tournament.  NC State may have been the best team in the country, but the outcome of this game shows you that Maryland wasn’t far behind.  But they never got a chance to prove it on the biggest stage.  It was the final game for Tom McMillen and Len Elmore, who had come to College Park four years earlier to help Lefty Driesell turn the Terps into a powerhouse.  Both played all 45 minutes of this one.  McMillen finished with 22 points and Elmore had 18, with 13 rebounds.  They even did a decent job on David Thompson, one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.  He was 10 for 24 from the field.  But 7’4” Wolfpack center Tom Burleson, had the game of his career, finishing with 38 points.  Even though they never got to play in the NCAA’s, Maryland finished the year 23-5, ranked fourth in the country.

 

  1.  January 22, 1984 – Super Bowl XVIII, Tampa, Fla.  Raiders 38 – Redskins 9

As defending Super Bowl champions, the Redskins had every right to feel confident that they would take their place among the greatest football teams of all time with a win.  After finishing the regular season with only two losses, by a combined total of two points along with an NFL record of 541 points, they were expected to take care of business.  They certainly did not expect something like this.  Forced to punt after their first possession, Derrick blocked Jeff Hayes’ punt and recovered in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.  It got to 14-0 before Mark Moseley kicked a field goal to at least get the Skins on the board.  Down 14-3 nearing halftime wasn’t exactly where they wanted to be, but the second half kickoff was coming their way.  Taking a knee with 12 seconds left in the half at their own 12 seemed to be the way to go.  But it wasn’t the way coach Joe Gibbs went.   He called the ill-fated “Rocket Screen”, which Jack Squirek easily picked off at the five and danced in for the score to pretty much put it out of reach.  An extra point was even blocked in the second half, not long before Marcus Allen’s 74-yard dazzling touchdown run turned it into the biggest Super Bowl blowout in history.

 

 

 

 


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