Tidbits - March 16, 2017

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



GOOD OLD DAYS!

  When I saw Carolina men’s basketball team got a number seven seed and their opponent was Marquette, and Duke and North Carolina were in the same region, it was like “old home week” to me.
  My mind flowed back to my youth and the glory days of Carolina a basketball, when I was a student at USC.
  Gamecock basketball was so popular, every game was a sell out. Channel 10 broadcast every home game live. Students camped out to get tickets.
  If you couldn’t get a ticket, you could still see the team, because practices were open to the public, and hundreds of students would flock to the Coliseum just to watch the team practice, and hear Frank McGuire coach.
  Dunking was outlawed in regulation games, but the players could drunk in practice.
  Marquette was a rival back then, mainly because Warrior coach Al McGuire and Carolina coach Frank were great friends. Not related, Frank coached Al at St. John’s. Naturally, they had great respect for each other,  but they wanted to win at all cost when the two legendary coaches met. There were quite a few technicals in those games, as each tried to play the refs.
  I don’t remember the year, but there was a major fight between the two teams on national TV, naturally.
  There were no cable channels, so there weren’t 25 games telecast at the same time. If you were on national TV, that was THE game everybody in the country watched.
  I took my sister Elizabeth to the game. She would have been around 12 or 13, I guess.
  The tension between the coaches spread to the players and in the second half it exploded into a bench clearing brawl.
  I’ll never forget seeing Carolina’s Kevin Joyce in his Marquess de Queensberry boxing pose, with his fists held in perfect position. Unfortunately, the Marquette player did not know those rules, but he did know street rules, and knocked Joyce into next week.
  Finally, things settled down and the game resumed. Carolina lost.
  I talk about the terrible shooters on this year’s Carolina team, but I will never forget Joyce, a great shooter, was only one for 12 in the Marquette game, and the Gamecocks lost by two.
  I also had the pleasure to witness Carolina’s other famous fight. This came against Maryland.
  Unlike the Marquette game, this one was a Gamecock rout. They were leading by around 40 points, when all heck broke lose.
  This was the game when Carolina’s John Ribock “accidently” went up against the head of Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell.
  McGuire said it was an accident. I was sitting  in the rafters, but I can tell you it was no accident. I was looking right at it.
  Ribock was 6-8 and all muscle.
  My junior year in high school, Coach Tommy Lyles took our basketball team to the old Field House to see Carolina’s freshman team take on Davidson.
  There was no “one and done’ back then, because freshmen were not allowed to play varsity basketball, or football for that matter.
  This was McGuire’s start to greatness, with freshmen John Roche, Tom Owens, Billy Walsh, all from New York City, and Ribock, who was from Augusta.
  That night, I was more impressed with Ribock than any other players. He was hitting jump shots from all over the court.
  I couldn’t wait to see him make the varsity. I thought he was going to be the star.
  Nope. Roche and Owens took that meek kid from the CSRA and turned him into an enforcer.
  He could still hit the outside jumper, but he “protected” the stars. He’s still one of my favorite players. Anytime somebody walks over a Tar Heel, who’s on the floor, he earns a star in his basketball crown.
  You see, back then, there was hatred in  the ACC, literally. Tobacco Road controlled the league in basketball, and teams from outside the Tar Heel state better not try to get good.
  Frank McGuire, even though he coached North Carolina to a national title in 1957,  rubbed Tobacco Road the wrong way, and it was war as long as the Gamecocks remained the league.
  I hated Duke and North Carolina, and 47 years later, I still hate them. Sorry, to all you Duke and Tar Heel worshippers, but you didn’t live through what my generation of Gamecocks lived through.
  I pull for Clemson against those two every time in basketball, and that’s the truth.
  It’s been a long time since the Gamecocks won a game in the NCAA. I was 22-years-old. That’s a LONG time.
  Maybe, the team that was good once can regain some of the ability that led them to beat Big 10 tournament champion Michigan earlier in the year.
  Playing in Greenville should be a like home game, but the Gamecocks have been losing at home lately.
  At least they are back in the dance after a 13-year absence. That is a start!
  There was no doubt about the Gamecock women making the tournament. Everyone knew they would be a number one seed. The only question was where.
  Stockton, California. That’s where.
  You have a team that has the best fan following in the country, averaging 12,000 a game, and you send them to California. Thanks, NCAA.
  Number 1 Connecticut has to travel all the way to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Hope the drive doesn’t wear them out.
  The other number one seeds get to travel much closer to home than Carolina. Baylor gets to go to Oklahoma, and Notre Dame travels to Kentucky.
  Oh, well. Maybe, the trip out west will do them good.
  Congratulations to Dawn Staley for being chosen to coach the women’s U.S. Olympic team. That is quite an honor for her, as well as the university.

QUITE IRONIC

  College baseball teams up north travel down South to get some playing time in good weather before their conference seasons begin.
  That’s why I got amused Sunday when Carolina’s home game with Michigan State was cancelled because of snow! I  bet the Spartans players were floored by the sudden change in the sunny south.
  The snow was beautiful, and it went away as quickly as it came.
  I needed the snow to wake me up. For the first time in my life, I forgot to set my clocks forward in my bedroom before I went to sleep Saturday night.
  As I’ve said before, I wake up automatically at 6 a.m. Well, that turned out to be 7 a.m. Sunday!
  The things I normally do in that first 6-7  hour, I had to put off, but I had no problem getting to church.
  I did get a rude awaking when I cranked my van to go to church.
  As the wipers were clearing the snow off my windshield, I was blasted by the air conditioning I had on the last time I drove the van.
  Life in the South.....