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1988 College Basketball Season – Danny and the Miracles

August 23, 2014

special_1987_88

Fennis Dembo and Wyoming were ranked #10 at the start of the 1988 season after advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1987.  But they could not get beyond the 1st round this season *photo courtesy of SI collection

During the first month of the season, the number one ranking fluctuated back-and-forth.  It started with the Syracuse Orangemen, but they lost to #3 North Carolina in the tip-off classic.  Then North Carolina had it until they lost at Vanderbilt.  Then Kentucky took it over until Arizona took it from them.  Arizona started the season ranked 17th but climbed briskly after beating Michigan and Syracuse.

The Temple Owls also started the season ranked 12th but eventually climbed to #1 and held it from early February until the final ranking.  Temple only lost one game during the regular season (at UNLV by one point) but would not make the Final Four.  In fact, none of the pre-season top 5 would make the Final Four.  Only one of the pre-season top 10 would make it, but they were seen as an afterthought when they lost their first two games to Iowa and Illinois.

The top 5 consisted of Syracuse, Purdue, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Kentucky (in that order).  The five behind them would be Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Wyoming.

Syracuse, Purdue, Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan and Wyoming will not be featured in this blog, so we’ll briefly cover their 1988 season before starting off with the afterthought team that made the Final Four.

Syracuse lost starters Howard Triche and Greg Monroe from their 1987 finalist team.  For 1988, they did not add anybody worthy of replacing them.  But with Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly, Sherman Douglas and Stephen Thompson (moving up into the starting ranks), they were the pre-season #1.  They turned out to be over-rated when they lost to North Carolina and Arizona early in the season and then had 5 Big East losses (including a shocking 51-50 decision to UConn at home) to finish 2nd in the regular season.  Although they rebounded to win the Big East tournament and grab a #3 seed in the East, they were upset by 11-seeded Rhode Island 97-94 in the 2nd round.

Purdue returned 4 starters from 1987 (Todd Mitchell, Troy Lewis, Melvin McCants and Everette Stephens).  After an early loss to Iowa State, Gene Keady’s Boilermakers ran roughshot through the Big Ten (going 16-2 and losing only road games to Indiana and Ohio State).  They were a #1 seed in the Midwest Regional but lost in the Sweet 16 to 4th seeded Kansas State 73-70.  The Kansas State Wildcats will be covered later.

Kentucky added freshmen Eric Manuel and LeRon Ellis to their roster.  This roster also included the return of Winston Bennett from a red-shirt year.  They joined superstar Rex Chapman and senior Ed Davender in the lineup.  They finished 1st in the SEC at 13-5 and won the SEC tournament.  They were a 2-seed in the Southeast Regional but were upset by 6th seeded Villanova in the Sweet 16, 80-74.  Chapman left for the NBA and Kentucky started to get into trouble.  This trouble will be covered extensively in the 1989 College Basketball post.

Missouri, after getting upset by Xavier in the 1st round of 1987, added freshman Doug Smith to their talented roster led by Derrick Chievous.  However, Missouri under-performed.  They dropped out of the rankings after a 4-2 start and then finished 7-7 in the Big Eight, including losing 4 of their last 6 games.  They lost in the Big Eight Semifinals to top seeded Oklahoma and were a #6 seed in the East.  They were upset again in the 1st round by Rhode Island (just before they beat Syracuse) 87-80.

Michigan was a year away.  They had a roster with senior Gary Grant, junior Glen Rice and sophomores Loy Vaught, Terry Mills and Rumeal Robinson.  With that young roster, one would guess they would make noise in 1989.  As for 1988, they finished 2nd in the Big Ten with a 13-5 record and would be a #3 seed in the West Regional.  They lost to 2-seeded North Carolina 78-69 in the Sweet 16.

Wyoming, with stars Fennis Dembo (featured on the SI cover) and Eric Leckner returning, were figured to make some noise from the WAC.  New coach Benny Dees led the Cowboys to a 26-5 regular season and a WAC tournament championship.  But, as a #7 seed in the West, they were upset by 10-seeded Loyola Marymount (with Corey Gaines, Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble) in a high-scoring 119-115 affair.  Loyola Marymount would lose its next game to North Carolina and would make its most noise in 1990 (not all for happy reasons).

December 19, 1987 – (#17)Kansas Jayhawks 74 @NC State Wolfpack 67

Senior Danny Manning was the early favorite for player of the year.  Manning had led the Jayhawks to the 1986 Final Four but most of the talented roster around him was gone by 1988.  The only one remaining was still recovering from a torn ACL, which happened in the ’86 Final Four.  Senior Archie Marshall was to be the second banana, along with sophomore shooter Kevin Pritchard.

The other two starters were JC transfers, 6’10” center Marvin Branch and point guard Otis Livingston.  The bench was filled with role players.  Hall-of-Famer Rick Barry’s son, Scooter, played along with Chris Piper, Milt Newton, Lincoln Minor, Jeff Gueldner, and football standout Clint Normore.  Kansas had lost its first two games, before rebounding to win its next 6 (their only quality win was against St. John’s though).

North Carolina State was coming off another surprise ACC tournament championship.  Now, Jim Valvano was trying to turn his style into a running style.  Leading the way was senior guard Vinny Del Negro and junior big men Chucky Brown and Charles Shackleford.  Sophomore Brian Howard was at the other forward spot and Valvano had brought in two outstanding freshmen, point guard Chris Corchiani and scoring machine Rodney Monroe.

NC State had only played two creampuffs so far and won both games.  So for this matchup, both teams were looking for a quality win in the packed Reynolds Coliseum (packed despite NC State being on Christmas break).

Manning started the Jayhawks off in typical fashion, he scored 6 of their first 8 points including a steal and slam and a three-pointer from the top.  But three straight jumpers by Del Negro, and then a Del Negro steal on the press and feed to Chucky Brown for a slam, gave NC State a 14-8 lead.  Manning led Kansas back to tie it at 16 and then 18.

But a Rodney Monroe three put NC State ahead to stay for awhile.  Shackleford, Corchiani, Monroe and Del Negro helped give the Wolfpack their biggest lead at 35-26.  A Kansas 6-0 run brought them back to within three but the half ended when Brown put back a Corchiani miss at the buzzer.  NC State led 41-36 and their up-tempo style was working.

The 2nd half started with Corchiani finding Brown for a baseline jumper.  Then Shackleford got a steal and Corchiani fed Del Negro for a layup.  After a Del Negro turnaround, NC State led 47-39 and Manning had 19 of the Jayhawks’ 39.  But then on a 3-on-2 break, Livingston found Marshall for a layup and Corchiani’s 3rd foul.  The three-point play got Marshall going.  He followed it up with a baseline jumper.  Then Manning hit a hook from the post and the lead was down to 47-46.

Two baskets from Chucky Brown briefly kept NC State ahead but the tempo was slowing down.  A baseline jumper from Marshall, after rebounding a Manning airball, tied the game at 54.  Corchiani hit two free throws but Kansas broke the press as Manning found Marshall for a slam.  The Jayhawks briefly took the lead at 57-56 when Corchiani committed his 4th foul and Marshall hit a free throw.

But Brown tipped in a Monroe miss and then Monroe got a layup after senior Quentin Jackson (who came in for Corchiani) got a steal off the press.  NC State was able to hold Kansas off until a Manning free throw with 4:35 left tied the game at 64.  Del Negro hit a free throw after Otis Livingston fouled out but Manning came back with two more for a Kansas lead.

Manning then got a steal and, at the other end, Scooter Barry found him in the post for a jump hook and his 30th point.  Kansas led 68-65.  Corchiani found Del Negro for a wing jumper in transition with 3:00 to go to cut the lead to 68-67, but that was NC State’s last point.

Barry found Pritchard for a jumper from the foul line.  Then Chris Piper got a steal after a Manning knockaway and Manning hit a banker from the post at the other end to put the game away (well it ended up putting the game away with under 2:00 to go because NC State couldn’t make a basket).

Kansas had a big road win but all would not be well for the Jayhawks as the calendar year of 1987 ended.  They lost to St. John’s in a rematch in NYC in the holiday tournament and lost Marvin Branch to academic ineligibility.  But that would not be the biggest loss.  Archie Marshall went down with a torn ligament of his healthy knee and his career was over.  Manning would have Marshall’s uniform number stitched into his wristband for the rest of the season, but Kansas needed to find some answers.

Kansas starters (points scored)

Archie Marshall (12) – Small Forward

Danny Manning (32) – Power Forward

Marvin Branch (2) – Center

Otis Livingston (0) – Point Guard

Kevin Pritchard (14) – Shooting Guard

Kansas bench (points scored)

Scooter Barry (4)

Chris Piper (4)

Milt Newton (0)

Lincoln Minor (2)

Clint Normore (2)

Jeff Gueldner (2)

Kansas Coach: Larry Brown

NC State starters (points scored)

Brian Howard (2) – Small Forward

Chucky Brown (16) – Power Forward

Charles Shackleford (10) – Center

Chris Corchiani (9) – Point Guard

Vinny Del Negro (17) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Rodney Monroe (11)

Avie Lester (0)

Kelsey Weems (2)

Sean Green (0)

Quentin Jackson (0)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

ArchieMarshall2archie-marshall

Archie Marshall had a big 2nd half for Kansas against NC State on December 19, but his career would be over 11 days later with his second torn ligament, this one in the other knee *photos courtesy of KU connection and The Draft Review

January 16, 1988 – NC State Wolfpack 76 @Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 74

5 ACC teams had an above .500 record in the early part of the ACC season.  Four of them would be featured in classics on Saturday, January 16 (the 5th of which, North Carolina, killed Virginia 87-62 to go 2-0.  We’ll get to Carolina after the next game).

NC State had lost at Cal-Santa Barbara a few days after losing to Kansas.  But the Wolfpack had won 6 in a row since (including a won over Louisville).  But now were looking for a 7th straight at Georgia Tech, were they had not won in 3 seasons.

Georgia Tech was 12-2 coming into this game (which included their own win over Louisville).  Seniors Duane Ferrell and Craig Neal were flanked by junior Tom Hammonds, sophomore Brian Oliver and freshman Dennis Scott.  The bench was not much to speak of and was used as least-often as possible.

The game got off to a slow start, with Ferrell the only one doing much.  He scored 8 of Tech’s first 10 points to give them an 10-6 lead.  Then Hammonds scored their next 9 but NC State was able to stay with them with a balanced attack.  However, when one of the few Tech reserves to see action, James Munlyn, hit a jumper from the foul line, the Jackets led 26-20.

But then Vinny Del Negro hit a pull-up from the wing.  Chris Corchiani found Charles Shakleford in the post for a hook shot.  And Wolfpack reserve Kelsey Weems found another reserve, center Brian D’Amico for a layup to tie the game.  Del Negro then scored 6 of the next 8 points to put NC State up 34-30.  But Ferrell brought Tech back, scoring 16 1st half points.  His last two came on free throws with 4 seconds left to put the Yellow Jackets up 38-37 at the break.

The game stayed even in the 2nd half but a pattern was developing.  NC State was starting to get a few buckets on second and third shots.  The Wolfpack eventually built a 57-52 lead on a 6-0 run thanks to Corchiani.  The freshman point guard had two assists and then a layup on a 2-on-1 break.  Later, Corchiani alley-ooped to Del Negro to make the score 59-55 (yep, you read that right.. an alley-oop to Del Negro).

After Craig Neal hit a three, Chucky Brown hit a baseline jumper and then got a slam in transition.  This forced a Tech timeout with NC State ahead 63-58.  Ferrell hit a hook in the lane but Corchiani broke Tech’s press and found Brown for a layup.  Neal came back with another three but Del Negro found Brown on a cut for a layup.

NC State eventually took a 70-65 lead before Neal hit his third three to keep Tech alive.  But Shackleford grabbed a Del Negro miss for his 19th rebound and put it back in.  This would not be the first or the last second shot for NC State in this game.

Ferrell hit a banker to cut the lead to two and then Dennis Scott stole a Corchiani pass to 2:18 to go.  But Neal dribbled the ball off of his foot out of bounds.  Corchiani came back with a pull-up in the lane with 1:32 to go.  Oliver found Hammonds for a baseline jumper and the lead was down to 74-72 with 1:07 left.  NC State ran down the shot clock but didn’t get anywhere near the desired result as Shackleford airballed a hook shot.  Scott grabbed the rebound and Tech took timeout with 24 seconds to go.

Bobby Cremins gave the ball to Ferrell, who drove to the hoop and was fouled by Del Negro with 10 seconds left.  Duane made both free throws to tie the game.  NC State didn’t call timeout.  Del Negro got it off the dribble and pulled up with 4 seconds left.  It was off the rim.  Shackleford and Brian Howard had tips at it before Howard controlled it long enough to tip it in at the buzzer.

NC State and Jim Valvano celebrated on the court as they had won their 7th in a row.  Georgia Tech would lose 3 of their next 4 ACC games before getting it together and having their own 7-game winning streak.  However, this was followed by two losses to end the regular season and a loss to Maryland in the opening round of the ACC tournament.  Tech would earn a 5-seed in the East but lost to the cinderella Richmond Spiders (who we’ll get to later) 59-55 in the 2nd round.

NC State starters (points scored)

Brian Howard (7) – Small Forward

Chucky Brown (14) – Power Forward

Charles Shackleford (20) – Center

Quentin Jackson (2) – Point Guard

Vinny Del Negro (16) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Chris Corchiani (9)

Rodney Monroe (2)

Avie Lester (2)

Kelsey Weems (0)

Brian D’Amico (4)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

Georgia Tech starters (points scored)

Dennis Scott (11) – Small Forward

Duane Ferrell (27) – Power Forward

Tom Hammonds (15) – Center

Craig Neal (9) – Point Guard

Brian Oliver (8) – Shooting Guard

Georgia Tech bench (points scored)

James Munlyn (4)

Anthony Sherrod (0)

Georgia Tech Coach: Bobby Cremins

duane ferrell

Duane Ferrell averaged 18.6 ppg as a senior and led Georgia Tech with 27 against NC State on Jan. 16 *photo courtesy of Ramblin Wreck

January 16, 1988 – Maryland Terrapins 72 @(#7)Duke Blue Devils 69

After the Len Bias/Lefty Driesell fallout, the Maryland Terrapins had gone 0-14 in the ACC under new coach Bob Wade.  But in 1988, they were off to a surprising 8-4 start including a 2-1 ACC record.  Senior rebounder and shot-blocker Derrick Lewis led the way along with 5th year senior point guard Keith Gatlin.  The prize, and Wade’s first big recruit, was Brian Williams (the artist later to be known as Bison Dele).  Williams, however, was one of six players to transfer from Maryland either during or after the 1988 season.  Williams ended up at Arizona.

Sophomore Tony Massenburg and junior point guard and JC transfer Rudy Archer filled the rest of the lineup along with junior Dave Dickerson and sophomore Steve Hood.

Coach Mike Kryzyewski had his team off to another hot start at 10-1 despite losing Tommy Amaker to graduation.  Seniors Billy King and Kevin Strickland, along with juniors Danny Ferry and Quin Snyder, were staples in the starting lineup.  The problem came at center when junior John Smith, who had an unexpectedly effective year in 1987, had struggled mightily in 1988.  So for this game, sophomore Alaa Abdelnaby was in the lineup.

The Duke bench was comprised of Smith, sophomores Robert Brickey and Phil Henderson, and freshman shooter Greg Koubek.

Maryland continued its surprise by taking the early lead at Cameron Indoor Stadium and taking the Crazies out of the game.  Hood found Massenburg for a layup.  Williams hit a turnaround in the post and then a hook shot after a fake.  Williams then put back a miss to give Maryland an 8-2 lead.  Lewis hit a runner in the lane and Dickerson hit a jumper.  Williams slammed one down after a drive by Abdelnaby and then Hood found Dickerson for a baseline jumper in transition.

Maryland led 16-4 and Duke finally called a timeout.  Superstar Danny Ferry finally got the Blue Devils going with a turnaround in the post.  Koubek then hit a pull-up three in transition.  Ferry later scored against a triple-team to complete a 7-0 run.  But Maryland was able to stay ahead for most of the half, despite terrible foul shooting, with Brian Williams leading the way.

But when Duke’s back court of Snyder and Strickland hit three-pointers late in the half, the Devils took their first lead at 29-28.  But Maryland regained the lead thanks to a Rudy Archer three and, later, a Coach K technical and two Steve Hood free throws.  Maryland led 34-31 at the half.

Abdelnaby started the 2nd half for Duke with two layups that sandwiched a Derrick Lewis three-point play.  Then Snyder got a steal and Brickey tipped in a Strickland miss to tie the game at 37.  But then Brickey committed his 4th foul and had to sit for awhile.

The game continued back and forth as Lewis and Archer led the way for the Terps while Ferry and Strickland were doing the damage for the Blue Devils.  Maryland did pull to a 51-46 lead when Archer went coast-to-coast after a steal.  Duke came right back as King hit Ferry with a long inbounds pass for a slam.  King then got a steal and layup.  King followed it up with another steal and Strickland was fouled on the break.  Kevin hit only 1-of-2 to tie the game at 51.

Duke eventually took a 56-53 lead when Phil Henderson drove and scored.  Maryland took a timeout with 8:21 left and Archer came back with a baseline drive.  But Snyder hit Ferry for a baseline jumper and then Strickland penetrated and found Brickey for a slam and a foul.  The three-point play gave Duke a 61-55 lead.

But Archer found Hood for a banker and Brickey’s 5th foul.  That three-point play cut the lead in half.  Then Archer stole a Snyder pass at half court and found Williams for a slam.  Lewis then got a steal and slam and later hit a turnaround in the post.  This completed a 9-0 run which gave Maryland a 64-61 lead.

Ferry broke the run with a banker and a foul after a spin in the post.  This three-point play tied the game.  Ferry then hit two free throws after Williams’ 4th foul.  Koubek then got a steal from Gatlin (who took Hood’s playing time in the final minutes) and later hit a three to put Duke up 69-64 with 2:23 left.  Maryland called timeout.

Williams found Gatlin for an elbow jumper to cut the lead to 69-66.  Williams then rebounded a Ferry miss but Lewis missed at the other end.  Archer, however, grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked out to Gatlin for a corner three to tie the game.  Duke called a timeout with 1:27 left.

Ferry missed a three with 1:05 to go and Maryland got the ball back.  After a timeout, Gatlin bricked a three.  Williams got the rebound but had the ball knocked away.  Archer recovered it and fed Lewis for a slam.  Maryland led 71-69 and Duke got a timeout with 22 seconds left.

Maryland could anticipate where the ball was going as Danny Ferry was the only Blue Devil with more than 11 points in this game.  Ferry moved to the post and Snyder, with the ball, moved to that side.  As the entry pass was released, Archer came from the weak side and knocked the ball away.  Teyon McCoy got the steal and Archer was eventually fouled with 7 seconds left.

Rudy made the front end of the 1-and-1 but missed the back end.  Duke still had a chance to tie but didn’t call timeout.  Strickland faked and launched a three but it was blocked by Lewis and the buzzer sounded.  Maryland had pulled out their best win of the year so far.

But unfortunately for Maryland, that would stand as their best win of the year (and probably in the Bob Wade era, unless you counted Maryland shocking top-seeded NC State 71-49 in the 1989 ACC Quarterfinals).  They would lose 6 of their next 7 ACC games and finish 5th at 6-8.  They did beat 4th seeded Georgia Tech 84-67 in the ACC quarterfinals before losing to North Carolina in the semis.  The win over Tech got them a #7 seed in the Southeast Regional.  They lost to Kentucky 90-81 in the 2nd round.

Things would get worse for Maryland in 1989 as they finished 1-13 in the ACC and Bob Wade resigned after a recruiting scandal which left Maryland with a three-year probation and Wade with a 5-year show-cause penalty.  Gary Williams came from Ohio State to take over his alma-mater in these troubling times.  He would eventually lead them to a National Championship.

Maryland starters (points scored)

Derrick Lewis (20) – Small Forward

Tony Massenburg (4) – Power Forward

Brian Williams (14) – Center

Rudy Archer (11) – Point Guard

Steve Hood (9) – Shooting Guard

Maryland bench (points scored)

Dave Dickerson (7)

Keith Gatlin (7)

John Johnson (0)

Teyon McCoy (0)

Maryland Coach: Bob Wade

Duke starters (points scored)

Billy King (3) – Small Forward

Danny Ferry (23) – Power Forward

Alaa Abdelnaby (6) – Center

Quin Snyder (4) – Point Guard

Kevin Strickland (11) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Robert Brickey (6)

Phil Henderson (10)

Greg Koubek (6)

John Smith (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

January 21, 1988 – (#9)Duke Blue Devils 70 @(#2)North Carolina Tarheels 69

After losing to Maryland, Duke dropped two spots in the polls and coach Mike Krzyzewski made a gamble.  6’5″ Robert Brickey would now be the starting center against Carolina and he would start against All-American J.R. Reid.

Reid had sat out the opening game of the year when North Carolina upset top-seeded Syracuse.  The Tarheels rode that momentum to a 13-1 start.  Reid was back with fellow big man Scott Williams and junior guard Jeff Lebo.  Those three would fill the void after Kenny Smith, Joe Wolf, and Dave Popson left after 1987.  Kevin Madden was back after an academic redshirt year.  He and junior Steve Bucknall filled out the starting lineup for this game.  A normal starter, senior Ranzino Smith only played a few minutes in this game because of a thigh bruise.

Off the bench came some key freshmen as Dean Smith allowed Pete Chilcutt, Rick Fox and King Rice to get plenty of time and prepare for the future.  It seemed North Carolina had an overwhelming advantage against Duke at Chapel Hill.  In 21 of the last 22 seasons, Duke had lost at either Carmichael Auditorium or the Dean Dome (where they were 0-2).

But Duke got off to a great start after a Steve Bucknall field goal.  Senior Kevin Strickland hit on a finger roll and then a follow-up.  Danny Ferry hit a three on a pick & pop with Quin Snyder.  Ferry fed Billy King for a banker.  King found Strickland in transition for a layup.  Duke now led 11-2 and were on an 11-0 run.

Reid and Williams led Carolina back to within 15-12 before Ferry’s passing got a struggling Dukie started.  John Smith had lost his starting center job before the Maryland game and was struggling mightily on the year.  But with Ferry in the post, Smith cut to the hoop, got a pass, made the layup and drew the foul.  The three-point play was a confidence boost.  King got a breakaway slam and Strickland hit a three to put Duke back up 23-12.

Duke eventually took a 29-15 lead on a Ferry jump hook and the crowd was more than living up to their wine and cheese reputation.  But the freshmen got UNC started as Fox found Chilcutt for a cutting layup.  Then Lebo got a steal and fed Williams for a breakaway slam.  Dick Vitale was screaming for Coach K to “get a T.O. baby!!” but Duke resisted for a few minutes and the Tarheels run continued.  Lebo scored and got fouled on a cut for a three-point play.  Lebo had been held down to that point by one of the best defenders in the country, Billy King.

Finally, Duke got a timeout when Lebo fed Chilcutt for a layup in transition to cut the lead to 29-24.  Ferry then hit a pull-up from the foul line to stem the tide.  But Carolina was able to stay relatively close and cut the margin to five at the half when Duke freshman Greg Koubek committed a dumb reach-in foul with no time on the clock after missing a layup.  J.R. Reid hit two free throws to make the score 44-39 Duke.

Carolina fell asleep at the start of the 2nd half and seemed to forget which basket they were defending.  As a result, Quin Snyder got an easy layup on a Danny Ferry inbounds from half-court.  Ferry got two baskets himself early in the half and King set up Smith for a dunk and then Strickland for a pull-up in the lane.  Duke led 54-43 after the 10-4 run.

But foul trouble was starting to become a factor, especially for Duke’s big guys who were primarily guarding J.R. Reid.  Brickey and Smith each committed their 4th fouls in the next minute.  Williams also got his 4th foul for UNC but stayed in the game long enough to kick off a 7-0 run with a layup.  The run concluded when Williams set up Jeff Lebo for his first and only three of the game.  Lebo ended up shooting 47% on threes in 1988, so it was key for Duke to keep him down from the arc.  But this one got the crowd going and cut the lead to 57-53.

But the new man John Smith hit a jumper from the post to stem the tide for now.  But Carolina was starting to get focused on getting the ball inside to J.R. Reid, where any Dukie who could think about checking him was in foul trouble.  Reid hit two field goals but Duke kept its lead despite Ferry committing his 4th foul.  Smith hit another jumper and Strickland drove in for a layup.  Duke led 65-57.

But Reid cut the lead in half with, first, a drop-step and layup and then a banker after a spin from the post.  With the lead down to four, Fox intentionally fouled Billy King with 5:16 left.  King was a 46% foul shooter on the year but drained both to put Duke up 67-61.  However, Reid hit on a double-pump in the lane and then Lebo lobbed to Reid for another layup.

Duke couldn’t follow up King’s success from the foul line as Snyder and then King himself missed front ends of 1-and-1’s in the next few possessions.  Williams follow-slammed a Reid miss to tie the game at 67.  Williams, however, airballed a key shot with under 2:00 to go.  Strickland rebounded and was fouled by Kevin Madden, who fouled out on that play.  Strickland’s two free throws gave Duke a 69-67 lead.

Reid tied it again with his 27th point on a drop-step layup.  Ferry missed a three.  Brickey rebounded and missed, rebounded again and missed.  Finally, Ferry got a fourth shot and was fouled by Williams with 52 seconds left.  Scott fouled out on that play and Ferry swished the first free throw.  The second though was in-and-out and Duke only led by one.

Carolina looked to go inside to Reid again but couldn’t find an angle.  Lebo shot a three and missed and Chilcutt just barely missed a tip-in.  Brickey rebounded and Phil Henderson was fouled.  The sophomore who was academically ineligible for the 2nd half of his freshman year missed the front end of the 1-and-1.  But Ferry rebounded over Reid and had the ball knocked out of bounds off of Carolina (although it looked like it was knocked off of Ferry).

UNC called a timeout with 19 seconds left and then Duke had to call its last timeout when they couldn’t get the ball inbounds.  Finally, Duke got it in but Henderson fumbled the ball and knocked it out of bounds.  After a Carolina timeout, Lebo penetrated and hit Chilcutt at the top.  Instead of swinging it out to Reid who was breaking to the ball at the foul line, the freshman launched a jumper that was short.  However, Brickey knocked it out of bounds with 5 seconds left.

UNC used another timeout and was able to break Lebo free at the three-point line in the corner (and, again, was apparently unable to break J.R. Reid free anywhere).  Lebo launched a shot but Brickey came out to get a piece of it and the buzzer sounded.  Duke had won for the first time in the Dean Dome and for the second time since 1966 in the city of Chapel Hill.

Duke starters (points scored)

Billy King (6) – Small Forward

Danny Ferry (19) – Power Forward

Robert Brickey (4) – Center

Quin Snyder (2) – Point Guard

Kevin Strickland (22) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

John Smith (13)

Phil Henderson (4)

Alaa Abdelnaby (0)

Greg Koubek (0)

Joe Cook (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Steve Bucknall (6) – Small Forward

J.R. Reid (27) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (14) – Center

Jeff Lebo (8) – Point Guard

Kevin Madden (6) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

Pete Chilcutt (4)

Rick Fox (4)

King Rice (0)

Ranzino Smith (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

J.R.Reid, Danny Ferry,

J.R. Reid (#34) dominated Duke with 27 points and 13 rebounds while Scott Williams (#42) also had a double-double.  But Danny Ferry (#35) and Duke got the last laugh on January 21st at the Dean Dome *photo courtesy of AP

January 25, 1988 – Providence Friars 56 @(#11)Pittsburgh Panthers 90

So why would a game with that lob-sided a score make it to, first, ESPN Classic and then this blog?  One reason.  SEND IT IN, JEROME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This play happened less than 5 minutes into the game and caused a 30-minute delay as Pitt got their only replacement backboard installed.

As for the game itself, Providence had lost many people, including their coach Rick Pitino, from the Final Four team of 1987.  Only Delray Brooks, along with ’87 reserves of Steve & Darryl Wright, Carlton Screen and Abdul Shamsid-Deen returned.  Freshman Eric Murdock and sophomore Quinton Burton joined them while Marty Conlon only played 11 games in 1988.

This group was not responding under new coach Gordon Chiesa, who would be replaced by Rick Barnes for 1989.  The Friars were 8-7 coming in and had lost three in a row since upsetting Georgetown at home.  The ideal place to not go was the home of one of the best teams in the nation.

The Pitt Panthers were coming off just their second loss of the season, an 86-83 decision at Oklahoma.  But they already had 13 wins and two All-American candidates.  Jerome Lane would make the All-America 2nd team while center Charles Smith just missed out.  But the inside tandem, along with senior Demetreus Gore, was one of the best in the country.

The rest of the team was young as Pitt had a freshman back court of future Arizona coach Sean Miller and Jason Matthews.  Many of their key guys off the bench, including Bobby Martin and Darrelle Porter were also freshmen.

Lane’s dunk made the score 8-5 Pitt, and after the delay Providence took a 13-10 lead when Murdock stole a Miller inbounds pass on the Friars pressure defense and scored.  But a Chiesa technical helped aide a 12-0 Pitt run as Gore and Smith led the way.  The frontcourt and a 15-0 free throw made advantage proved to be the difference in the first half.

Lane had another flying dunk on the break that scared Bill Raftery and probably the Pitt athletic staff.  But Jerome finished it without shattering another backboard and had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the first half.  Pitt led 39-28 at the break.

The Panthers had a 9-0 run to start the 2nd half and effectively put the game away.  Even when Pitt’s reserves were in, they looked like the far superior team (and the score showed it).  Lane finished with 19 points and 17 boards and got a thunderous ovation when he left the floor with under 5:00 to go.

Providence had only three more wins the rest of the season, including an upset of Villanova.  They had a near-upset of Pitt less than a month later.  But the Panthers survived 87-86 in a matchup that was less memorable because of no shattered backboards.  They almost met for a third time in the Big East tournament but Providence lost the 8-9 game to Connecticut.

The Huskies, under 2nd year coach Jim Calhoun, instead lost to top-seeded Pitt in the Quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.  But Pitt would lose to Villanova in the Semis 72-69.  The Panthers were a 2-seed in the Midwest Regional.  But instead of getting a chance to play Kansas in the Sweet 16, the Panthers dropped an overtime decision to 7-seeded Vanderbilt in the 2nd round 80-74.

Pitt would make three more NCAA tournament appearances under coach Paul Evans but never advanced beyond the 2nd round.  Pitt made their first Sweet 16 appearance in 28 years in 2002.  The Panthers started a 10-year consecutive tournament appearances streak that season.

Providence starters (points scored)

Quinton Burton (6) – Small Forward

Abdul Shamsid-Deen (4) – Power Forward

Steve Wright (14) – Center

Keith-sean Lindsey (0) – Point Guard

Delray Brooks (9) – Shooting Guard

Providence bench (points scored)

Cal Foster (3)

Carlton Screen (4)

Eric Murdock (9)

Darryl Wright (4)

Chris Watts (3)

Ryan Ford (0)

Brian Benham (0)

Providence Coach: Gordon Chiesa

Pittsburgh starters (points scored)

Demetreus Gore (13) – Small Forward

Jerome Lane (19) – Power Forward

Charles Smith (17) – Center

Sean Miller (2) – Point Guard

Jason Matthews (14) – Shooting Guard

Pittsburgh bench (points scored)

Bobby Martin (15)

Nate Bailey (0)

Darelle Porter (2)

Pat Cavanaugh (2)

Steve Maslek (3)

Scott Colombo (3)

John Rasp (0)

Pittsburgh Coach: Paul Evans

jerome lane

Send it in, Jerome!!! *photo courtesy of Patrick Hruby

January 30, 1988 – Louisville Cardinals 68 @Memphis State Tigers 72

In an embarrassing moment for the Metro Conference, they had no NCAA tournament teams in 1987.  Memphis State was on probation after previous coach Dana Kirk got caught with recruiting violations.  Kirk was replaced by former Tigers guard Larry Finch for 1987.  Finch finished 2nd in the Metro Conference with an 8-4 record and a 23-8 record overall in the regular season.  Louisville finished first at 9-3 but were 17-13 at the end of the regular season.

For whatever reason, Memphis State was allowed to participate in the Metro Conference Tournament and killed Louisville 75-52 in the Championship Game.  So with Memphis State not allowed to participate in the NCAA tournament and Louisville posting a not-so-impressive 18-14 record (despite having the 30th toughest schedule that season) and nobody else in the conference posting a record above .500 in the Metro, there was no NCAA participation from the conference.

Memphis State was allowed to participate in the 1988 NCAA tournament but junior Vincent Askew left for the NBA.  Then early in the season, big men Sylvester Gray and Marvin Alexander were deemed ineligible because it was ruled that they accepted money from an agent.  As a result of losing three key players, Memphis State was off to a 10-7 start and a 1-4 conference record.

Louisville was also 10-7 as they played their customary though schedule (without the talent of previous years) and had a slow 1-3 start in the Metro.  Pervis Ellison and Herbert Crook were their only remaining players who played in their 1986 NCAA Championship victory over Duke.  Junior Kenny Payne was on that team and averaged 10.5 points per game in 1988.  The back court was inexperienced with sophomore Keith Williams and freshman LaBradford Smith.  Both were great athletes but neither could shoot or handle the ball really well.  Off the bench, the Cardinals had future NBA big man (or future NBA stiff, if you prefer) Felton Spencer, who was a sophomore.

Memphis State was led by an unheralded front court of Rodney Douglas, Dewayne Bailey and Steve Ballard.  Bret Mundt gave them some minutes off the bench.  The back court was led by a freshman and their only future NBA player, Elliot Perry.  Perry was a fashion artist then too with his high socks and goggles.  Perry teamed with veteran Dwight Boyd.  Sophomore Cheyenne Gibson (who was a prop 48 as a freshman) came off the bench as a shooter.

Both teams played splendidly for most of the 1st half as each shot exactly 50%.  Ellison got going with 7 early points but eventually picked up two fouls and sat.  Payne led the Louisville attack without Ellison while Bailey and Douglas were doing most of the damage for Memphis State.  Louisville held small leads most of the time but Memphis State took a 31-28 advantage on a Gibson three.

Reserves Spencer and Mike Abram hit free throws for Louisville to give them the lead again.  Then both teams went into a drought after Memphis State reserve John McLaughlin came into the game and immediately lost one (and perhaps two) contact lenses after a rebound scramble.  About 5 minutes were wasted searching for one before McLaughlin gave up and went to the locker room.  He eventually found his way back to the bench but not back into the game.

The drought was broken on the final play of the half when Williams found Spencer in the lane for a jumper that got the bounce.  This gave Louisville a 34-31 lead headed into the locker room.  Both teams ended the 1st half at 45% shooting but both had been at 50% around the time that the game was tied at 28.

Elliot Perry, who was held to 2 points in the 1st half, eventually hit a pull-up from the baseline to give the Tigers a 39-35 lead.  It grew to six before Louisville cut it to 43-41 after a breakaway intentional foul call on Perry.  But Gibson and Perry hit back-to-back threes to open the Memphis State lead up to 49-41.

Bailey’s turnaround from the post increased it to ten.  The biggest lead came at 55-44 before Ellison scored back-to-back baskets for his first points since the 7 early on.

Memphis State held its lead at a nice margin until a three-point play by LaBradford Smith cut the advantage to 62-56.  But Douglas got a key steal on an outlet pass and Perry hit a pull-up to put the lead back at eight.

Perry hit another pull-up jumper to stem the tide after Herbert Crook hit two free throws.  Two more free throws from Perry put Memphis State up 68-58 with under 2:00 left.  But Kenny Payne kept Louisville alive with two threes and then another jumper after rebounding an Ellison miss.  His latest field goal cut the Tigers lead to 69-66 before Ellison fouled Perry with 52 seconds left (Louisville must have been stuck in the old days before the three-point line.. what with fouling intentionally trailing only by three).

Perry hit both ends of the 1-and-1 to finish with 17 2nd half points.  Keith Williams made a long two with 37 seconds to go after faking a three.  Williams then intentionally fouled Gibson (at least in this case, the 45-second shot clock was off).  Gibson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Louisville had a chance to tie.  They missed three attempts from the arc (instead of getting a quick two).  The last miss by Payne was rebounded by Gibson with 4 seconds left.

Cheyenne hit the front end this time to put the game away.  This loss did seem to wake Louisville up as they went 10-2 (including 8-0 in the Metro) to finish the season.  They beat Memphis State 71-69 at home a month later and then beat them again in the Metro Championship Game by a score of 81-73.  Louisville was assigned the #5 seed in the Southeast Regional.  They made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to top-seeded Oklahoma 108-98.

Memphis State finished 6-6 in the Metro, which was tied for 3rd place.  But they beat 2nd seeded Florida State in the Semifinals to reach the title game against Louisville.  Memphis State was a 9-seed in the Midwest Regional and lost to top-seeded Purdue 100-73 in the 2nd round.  The Tigers were upset by 12th-seeded DePaul in the 1st round in 1989 after a 21-10 season.  Their next NCAA appearance was in 1992 with Penny Hardaway leading the way for Larry Finch.

Louisville starters (points scored)

Kenny Payne (20) – Small Forward

Herbert Crook (8) – Power Forward

Pervis Ellison (14) – Center

LaBradford Smith (10) – Point Guard

Keith Williams (7) – Shooting Guard

Louisville bench (points scored)

Felton Spencer (4)

Mike Abram (5)

Craig Hawley (0)

Louisville Coach: Denny Crum

Memphis State starters (points scored)

Rodney Douglas (10) – Small Forward

Dewayne Bailey (14) – Power Forward

Steve Ballard (8) – Center

Elliot Perry (19) – Point Guard

Dwight Boyd (6) – Shooting Guard

Memphis State bench (points scored)

Bret Mundt (4)

Cheyenne Gibson (11)

Russell Young (0)

John McLaughlin (0)

Memphis State Coach: Larry Finch

elliot perry

Elliot Perry (along with his goggles and socks, although you can’t see them here) led Memphis State to a comeback victory over Louisville with 17 second half points *photo courtesy of The Association

February 6, 1988 – NC State Wolfpack 77 @(#4)Duke Blue Devils 74

The win against North Carolina kicked off a 5-game winning streak for Duke (4 of them in the ACC).  But NC State was a game behind Duke (and a half game behind UNC) in the ACC standings when they came into Cameron Indoor Stadium.  State was on its own 3-game winning streak after losing a close game at home against North Carolina.  If NC State beat Duke, there would be a three-way tie at the top of the ACC standings.

The team that had been surprised at Wake Forest a few weeks earlier stayed with the Blue Devils for most of the 1st half.  Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack did this despite Billy King holding Vinny Del Negro scoreless in the half.  Chris Corchiani penetrated and found Chucky Brown, Charles Shackleford and occasionally himself for baskets.  Duke, as usual, was led by Danny Ferry but got contributions all the way around.

King found Robert Brickey for a layup to give Duke a 30-29 lead.  It would be Duke’s lead for awhile as they went on a run.  Ferry hit a three and then two free throws.  Brickey drove down the lane for a slam.  Kevin Strickland got a breakaway three-point play after a King steal to make the Devils advantage 40-32 late in the half.  Strickland got fouled on another break and split the free throws.

Then in the last seconds of the half, Corchiani missed a wild shot with 6 seconds left.  Strickland rebounded, took it coast-to-coast and fed Quin Snyder for a layup at the buzzer.  NC State had stayed with them for awhile but Duke had spurted to a 43-32 halftime lead.

Duke kept its advantage for half of the 2nd stanza despite Snyder and Brickey picking up their 4th fouls.  NC State cut it to 49-42 at one point when Del Negro hit two free throws for his first points.  But Del Negro had 4 fouls and Duke was getting to the line.  Ferry’s leaner in the lane gave Duke a 57-45 lead.  It would be their last field goal for quite awhile.

They built a 59-45 lead on two Ferry free throws and a 61-48 lead on two Alaa Abdelnaby free throws after Corchiani’s 4th foul.  But King committed his 4th foul for Duke and Corchiani hit two free throws before Rodney Monroe hit his second three-pointer in the last few minutes.  Corchiani then got a steal and was fouled by Snyder at the end of the break.  Quin fouled out on this play and Corchiani’s two free throws cut the lead to 61-55.

Del Negro’s first field goal cut the lead to four.  Then Brickey committed a charge on a baseline drive to foul himself out.  Del Negro penetrated and found Brian Howard (the hero against Georgia Tech) for a layup and a foul.  Duke’s lead was down to 61-60 and then two Shackleford free throws gave the Wolfpack the lead.

Four free throws by John Smith and two by Ferry helped Duke regain a 67-64 lead, but Shackleford fed Monroe on a cut for a layup and a foul.  The three-point play tied the game with 3:54 left.  After a timeout, a three-pointer by Greg Koubek was Duke’s 1st field goal since they were ahead by double-digits.

But Howard came back with a jumper after a Shackleford kickout.  Then Chucky Brown got a block and Del Negro went coast-to-coast (with a behind-the-back dribble added to get away from a defender) to give NC State a 71-70 lead.

Kevin Strickland and Del Negro exchanged field goals before Smith fumbled a bullet pass from Ferry out of bounds with 1:30 left.  Corchiani then found Del Negro going backdoor and threw a lob.  Del Negro caught it in the air and, in one motion, banked it in for a 75-72 State lead.

Duke had two three-point attempts to tie it but Strickland missed and Koubek’s shot was blocked.  Smith followed up Koubek’s shot and laid it in to cut the lead to one with less time than the shot clock remaining.

Duke spent almost the rest of the time trying to figure out who to foul.  Shackleford, a 60% foul shooter, touched the ball twice but wasn’t fouled.  Finally, Billy King had to commit his 5th foul on Del Negro with 7 seconds left.  Del Negro shot just under 84% on the season but missed the front end.  Ferry got the rebound but panicked as he threw the outlet pass right to Chucky Brown.

Del Negro was fouled again with 2 seconds left and it was called an intentional foul on Strickland, which essentially ended the game.  Del Negro got two shots and NC State would get the ball back.  Del Negro made the two shots and the Wolfpack inbounded it successfully to preserve the victory.

This would be Duke’s last home loss of the season.  Their only losses for the rest of the regular season came on three consecutive road games to NC State, Georgia Tech and Clemson at the end of February.  These losses would put Duke into 3rd place behind North Carolina and NC State going into the ACC tournament.

Meanwhile, NC State had a game at Chapel Hill 5 days later which would ultimately decide who would win the regular season title.  Could NC State win at Cameron and the Dean Dome in less than a week?

NC State starters (points scored)

Brian Howard (5) – Small Forward

Chucky Brown (8) – Power Forward

Charles Shackleford (16) – Center

Chris Corchiani (15) – Point Guard

Vinny Del Negro (12) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Rodney Monroe (17)

Avie Lester (4)

Brian D’Amico (0)

Kelsey Weems (0)

Quentin Jackson (0)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

Duke starters (points scored)

Billy King (4) – Small Forward

Danny Ferry (21) – Power Forward

Robert Brickey (8) – Center

Quin Snyder (4) – Point Guard

Kevin Strickland (9) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Phil Henderson (6)

John Smith (13)

Alaa Abdelnaby (4)

Greg Koubek (5)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

February 11, 1988 – (#16)NC State Wolfpack 73 @(#6)North Carolina Tarheels 75 (OT)

Despite his NCAA Championship in 1983, Jim Valvano had never won a game in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  NC State had not won at UNC since 1976, but this was perhaps the best NC State team that Valvano had fielded (even better than 1983).

North Carolina had not played a game in a week and it showed.  They had more turnovers than usual (at least 8 in the 1st half) and their passing game wasn’t as crisp.  Early on, the play of J.R. Reid helped them salvage that.  But a 9-2 NC State run put them up 21-12.  The front court of Charles Shackleford, Chucky Brown and Brian Howard were all involved and active.

Rodney Monroe came off the State bench to contribute 8 points and help the 9-point lead grow.  The biggest margin was at 32-19 when Shackleford fed Brown for a layup on a high-low.  Jeff Lebo and Steve Bucknall got consecutive baskets to cut the lead but Carolina’s big run came after a Vinny Del Negro free throw that made the score 33-23.  The Tarheels cut down their turnovers and stepped up their defense.

Reid hit a hook shot for his 9th point.  Scott Williams hit two free throws.  Lebo hit a jumper from the wing.  Then Reid made the defensive play of the 1st half by hustling to block a seemingly open Brian Howard layup.  This led to a Bucknall layup after a Kevin Madden feed.  The Tarheels were on an 8-0 run and the lead was down to 33-31.

Quentin Jackson found Brown for a layup to stem the tide but a three-pointer from Madden with 4 seconds left cut NC State’s halftime lead to 35-34.

In the 2nd half, UNC built their lead as senior Ranzino Smith got involved.  Ranzino had not gotten much playing time in his first 3 seasons and had been injured earlier in the year, but the outstanding shooter showed off his talent in the 2nd half.  He hit two pull-up jumpers to give the Tarheels a 40-37 lead.  Then freshmen Rick Fox and Pete Chilcutt hit field goals to increase the lead.

Despite Bucknall picking up his 4th foul, the UNC lead increased to 50-41 on a Rick Fox baseline drive and slam.  Monroe then hit a three.  Ranzino Smith answered with a trey.  Monroe hit another but UNC still increased their lead to 10 when Lebo, on back-to-back plays, found Chilcutt and Ranzino for breakaway layups.

Three-pointers from Del Negro and Chris Corchiani cut the lead to 57-53.  But after Chilcutt made an outstanding save on a ball going out of bounds, Williams got a layup after a drop-step in the post.  Ranzino then hit a pull-up jumper in transition to make the score 61-53.

Most Dean Smith UNC teams would be able to hold that lead.  But for this game, the Tarheels suffered several brain-farts.  For instance, Brian Howard was on the free throw line for a 1-and-1.  He missed the front end but everybody except Howard thought it was a 2-shot foul.  So Howard easily followed up his miss with a layup (J.R. Reid looked particularly embarrassing on this play as he was clapping after Howard’s miss and while Howard was following his shot).

Even so, two free throws from Bucknall gave UNC a 67-60 lead with 1:05 to go.  But Corchiani hit Monroe for a three and then Reid missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  Monroe found Brown for a baseline jumper with 42 seconds to go.  Then 15 seconds later, Del Negro got a steal and fed Brown.  Chucky missed a breakaway layup but Del Negro followed it up to tie the game.

After a UNC timeout, Lebo drove but his pull-up was blocked out of bounds by Shackleford with 5 seconds to go.  The inbounds play was ran for Lebo again but he airballed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the game was headed into overtime.

NC State should have had the momentum but they couldn’t score on their first few possessions and Ranzino fed Reid on a backdoor lob for a layup.  This was J.R.’s first points of the 2nd half (but he out-showed Shackleford, who didn’t score at all in the 2nd half).  Brown tied it with a jumper from the foul line that bounced in and was almost touched by Howard over the rim.

The Wolfpack had a golden chance to lead by Shackleford missed a tip-in.  Bucknall then found Williams in transition for a slam and UNC led 71-69 with 1:39 to go.  After a timeout, Brown missed a jumper from the foul line this time and Carolina ran down the clock.

Freshman point guard King Rice was in the game and should have been fouled as his free throw percentage and outside shooting wasn’t very good.  But King went to work doing the thing he could do.  He penetrated at the end of the shot clock and found Reid for a layup that essentially put the game away.

Although, NC State had another chance to foul Rice after two free throws from Del Negro cut the lead to 73-71.  The Wolfpack were chasing him this time but couldn’t get to him before he found a wide-open Scott Williams for a slam.  That was the nail.

This game turned out to be the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the ACC regular season.  North Carolina finished at 11-3 and NC State was 10-4.  The Wolfpack had been swept by UNC during the season but had swept 3rd place Duke (and Duke swept North Carolina.. a perfect round-about, just imagine if all three teams had finished tied).

However, in the ACC Semifinals, Duke beat NC State 73-71 to reach the Championship Game against UNC.  I guess if NC State couldn’t win three against Duke, Duke couldn’t win three against North Carolina.  We’ll find out after a Kansas Jayhawks team that was 12-8 at one point in the season but now on a 4-game winning streak takes on an in-state rival.

Meanwhile for NC State, they were a 3-seed in the Midwest Regional.  But the Wolfpack (so used to being the underdog and doing the upsetting) were upset in round 1 by 14th seeded Murray State 78-75 (a year after Murray State’s conference foe, Austin Peay, had upset 3rd-seeded Illinois in the NCAA tournament).  This prevented a Kansas-NC State matchup in round 2.

NC State starters (points scored)

Brian Howard (12) – Small Forward

Chucky Brown (10) – Power Forward

Charles Shackleford (8) – Center

Chris Corchiani (8) – Point Guard

Vinny Del Negro (16) – Shooting Guard

NC State bench (points scored)

Rodney Monroe (19)

Avie Lester (0)

Quentin Jackson (0)

Brian D’Amico (0)

Kelsey Weems (0)

NC State Coach: Jim Valvano

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Steve Bucknall (14) – Small Forward

J.R. Reid (13) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (13) – Center

Jeff Lebo (7) – Point Guard

Ranzino Smith (14) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

Pete Chilcutt (7)

Kevin Madden (3)

Rick Fox (4)

King Rice (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

February 18, 1988 – Kansas Jayhawks 64 @Kansas State Wildcats 63

These two rivals ended up meeting four times in 1988, but this was the only close one.  Kansas State had won the first matchup at Allen Fieldhouse 72-61.  They won that game in the middle of a 7-game winning streak that brought them up to 14th in the country.  Back-to-back road losses to Missouri and Oklahoma put them out of the rankings but they were still 15-6 coming in and 2nd in the Big 8 behind Oklahoma.

Kansas State had many junior college transfers filling their roster.  The best of which was Mitch Richmond.  Richmond was in the front court along with fellow seniors Charles Bledsoe and Ron Meyer.  Sophomore (and only future NBA player other than Richmond) point guard Steve Henson started this one along with William Scott.  Off the bench was Fred McCoy, who had started at certain points at center for the Wildcats in 1988.

Kansas, meanwhile, had gone through some trouble in mid-season.  Archie Marshall was injured and Marvin Branch became academically ineligible.  The troubles weren’t over as Otis Livingston and Mark Masucci would be kicked off the team before the NCAA tournament.  But Larry Brown had found a nice starting combo alongside All-American Danny Manning.  Junior Milt Newton and senior Chris Piper were at the forwards.  And a pair of sophomores, Kevin Pritchard and Jeff Gueldner, were at the guards.  Keith Harris had come back after being in Brown’s doghouse for missing class earlier in the year.  He came off the bench with the likes of Scooter Barry, Lincoln Minor, and Clint Normore.

Kansas was 12-8 at one point after losing 5 in a row (including the first matchup to Kansas State).  But they had rebounded and were on a 4-game winning streak.

Steve Henson and Will Scott combined to hit 3 three-pointers in the early going to get the Wildcats off to an early lead in what would be their final season at Ahearn Field House, where Larry Brown had not lost as coach of the rival Jayhawks.  Fred McCoy also got involved, but 7 straight points from Manning gave Kansas a 16-15 lead.

Richmond hit two pull-ups from the foul line in what would be his best offensive stretch of the game.  For the most part, he was held down by Milt Newton.  Kansas took a 24-19 lead when Manning hit a three from the top in transition and then Gueldner followed up a Pritchard miss on the break.  But Richmond’s three cut it to two and then, after a Keith Harris free throw, Henson tied it at 25 with a three.

But Kansas regained its advantage when Normore, Gueldner and Harris each got field goals.  Then Newton scored 5 points in a row to put the Jayhawks up 38-32.  But the half ended when Ron Meyer picked up a loose ball after Manning blocked a Henson shot and scored at the buzzer.  This cut the Kansas lead to 38-34.

Newton hit two quick jumpers to start the 2nd half and give him 13 points.  But then William Scott hit a three and Rom Meyer got on the offensive boards for two put-backs (one of them resulted in a three-point play) to cut the lead to 44-42.  Kansas was starting to get into foul trouble and Piper and Gueldner each had 3 at that point.

But a three-point play by Pritchard after a Newton steal stemmed the tide for the moment.  However, after Piper picked up his 4th foul, K State scored 6 points in a row (4 by Bledsoe, who had been silent to that point) to take the lead.  The game then went back-and-forth for awhile as a theme was really starting to develop.  Mitch Richmond was really struggling.  Some of his shots were in-and-out but a lot weren’t even close.

But McCoy was giving the Wildcats a spark off the bench and a jumper from Henson gave them a 56-54 lead.  But a three from Pritchard put Kansas ahead.  It wouldn’t be his biggest three of the game.  K State regained a 59-57 lead before Manning tied it with an 18-footer from the wing.  On the Jayhawks next possession, they got four shots as Manning and Gueldner tipped at the rebound.  Finally, Gueldner was able to tip it in for a 61-59 Jayhawks lead.

Ron Meyer rebounded another Richmond miss and was fouled with 1:35 to go.  He made the two free throws to tie the game.  Kansas then moved the ball around trying to get it inside to Manning.  He was covered, so Newton eventually launched a three.  It was no good but Gueldner was able to tip a loose ball to Pritchard.  Kansas did the same thing, three perimeter guys passing it around the horn trying to get it inside to Manning.

Finally, the man you probably guessed got free for just a second.  Pritchard launched and nailed a three from the top with 29 seconds to go to give Kansas a 64-61 lead.  Richmond finally got his first 2nd half points on a runner after a timeout to cut the lead to one.  Kansas moved it around and avoided the defense until Harris was fouled with 4 seconds left.

Keith missed the front end and K State got a timeout with 3 seconds left.  But the Wildcats had to go the length of the floor.  Bledsoe threw a long pass to McCoy, but Gueldner stripped it before Fred could get a shot off.  Larry Brown was still undefeated at Kansas State.

The teams went in opposite directions of the result of this game.  Kansas lost its next two games, against Duke and at Oklahoma (they would get a chance at revenge for both in the Final Four).  Kansas State would win its next 7 games, including the 3rd matchup between these teams in the Semifinals of the Big 8 tournament.  Two-seeded Kansas State beat 3-seeded Kansas 69-54 in that game to move onto the Finals, where they lost to top-seeded Oklahoma 88-83.

Both of these teams were then sent to the Midwest Regional.  Kansas State was a 4-seed and Kansas was a 6-seed.  Kansas State beat LaSalle and DePaul before upsetting top-seeded Purdue in the Sweet 16, 73-70.  Kansas had a tough 2nd round game with Murray State (who beat NC State in the 1st round) but survived 61-58 and then beat Vanderbilt (who had upset Pitt) in the Sweet 16, 77-64.

In their final matchup of the season, Mitch Richmond struggled again with a 4-for-14 shooting performance.  As a result, Kansas overcame a 2-point halftime deficit to win going away, 71-58, and advance on to the Final Four.

Kansas starters (points scored)

Milt Newton (14) – Small Forward

Chris Piper (2) – Power Forward

Danny Manning (18) – Center

Kevin Pritchard (12) – Point Guard

Jeff Gueldner (10) – Shooting Guard

Kansas bench (points scored)

Keith Harris (5)

Clint Normore (3)

Lincoln Minor (0)

Otis Livingston (0)

Mike Masucci (0)

Kansas Coach: Larry Brown

Kansas State starters (points scored)

Mitch Richmond (11) – Small Forward

Charles Bledsoe (6) – Power Forward

Ron Meyer (11) – Center

Steve Henson (13) – Point Guard

William Scott (6) – Shooting Guard

Kansas State bench (points scored)

Fred McCoy (12)

Mark Dobbins (2)

Buster Glover (2)

Carlos Diggins (0)

Kansas State Coach: Lon Kruger

March 13, 1988 – ACC Championship Game: (#8)Duke Blue Devils 65, (#9)North Carolina Tarheels 61

In what was the 35 year history, in 1988, of the ACC Tournament, these two rivals had only met three times in the title game.  North Carolina had won in 1967, 1969, and 1979.  But, as was said by both teams before the game, history didn’t matter.  The only thing that mattered was today.

Not only were these teams playing for an ACC Championship but, in all probability, a #2 seed in the East Regional.  This would be quite attractive for the Tar Heels as the 1st 2 round games for that regional were to be played at the Dean Dome.  This was the last year that teams would be allowed to play in their home building in the NCAA tournament.

North Carolina had had a chance for a #1 seed a week earlier but lost to Duke 96-81 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  So Duke had swept the Tarheels and now were going for a third victory over UNC in the 1988 season.  Duke had avoided three losses to NC State in the ACC Semifinals by beating the Wolfpack 73-71.

It was a three parade to start the game.  Kevin Strickland and Quin Snyder connected for the Blue Devils.  Jeff Lebo and Kevin Madden did the same for the Tarheels.  UNC, in fact, hit their first 5 threes as Ranzino Smith got involved off the bench.  But Danny Ferry had gotten involved with a tip-in and then a wing jumper over J.R. Reid.

UNC became a little too three happy and forgot to get the ball to Reid and Scott Williams in the post.  Strickland’s 9 points and good play from Ferry and John Smith gave the Dukies a 36-27 lead with 3/4’s gone in the 1st half.  But Duke’s biggest problem throughout the season was scoring droughts.  And, true to form, they didn’t score a field goal for the rest of the half.

King Rice penetrated and found Lebo for a three.  Then Rice hit two free throws and later got a steal.  Rice found Ranzino, who missed a breakaway, but Rick Fox tipped it in to cut Duke’s lead to 37-34.  Then with just over 1:00 to go in the half, Pete Chilcutt kicked out to Ranzino for a three from the wing to tie the game.  The score stayed at 37-all for the rest of the half but the intensity was growing by the second.

At the start of the 2nd half, Carolina finally went inside.  Williams hit two free throws for his 4th point and J.R. Reid got his first two points when Lebo found him for a short baseline jumper.  A Quin Snyder three cut the lead to 41-40 but Krzyzewski wasn’t happy with his starting team’s defensive intensity and brought in a whole new five.

While Alaa Abdelnaby, Clay Buckley, Greg Koubek, Phil Henderson and Joe Cook couldn’t score, they raised the intensity defensively and didn’t let the Tarheels starting five break it open.  UNC did go out to a 46-40 lead when Reid hit on a 2-on-1 break but the message had been sent.

Snyder, Ferry, and John Smith came back in and Snyder quickly hit another three and then found Smith for a tough breakaway layup and a foul.  The three-point play tied the game at 46.  Snyder then found Ferry for a turnaround jumper from the wing.  But Carolina snatched back the lead when Lebo nailed his last three of the game.

A Bucknall layup after a Lebo steal and two more free throws from Williams (who didn’t score a field goal in this game) gave UNC a 53-48 lead.  Later, Madden fed Reid for a double-pump and his 7th and last point of the game.  This made the score 55-50.  Perhaps because he hadn’t gotten into the flow in the 1st half, Reid did not look like himself when he got the ball inside at times.  On one play, he missed a seemingly easy layup and then on another (with an open layup beckoning) Reid lost the ball out of bounds.

Two free throws from Robert Brickey tied the game at 55 with 9:02 to go.  The rest of the game was signified by defense and intensity (or sloppy play, whichever you prefer).  The play wasn’t always pretty but the emotion was there.  Bucknall broke a 6:00 Tarheel field goal drought with a banker on a 2-on-1 break.  This gave UNC a 57-56 lead with around 6:00 to go.  It would be their last field goal.

Duke took the lead right back when Smith hit a jump hook.  Later, Snyder penetrated and kicked to Ferry for a three from the top to give the Blue Devils a 61-57 lead.  Williams hit two free throws to cut it to two but an offensive foul on Bucknall with 1:46 to go halted a chance to tie the game.  The Tarheels then intentionally fouled Billy King, like they did in the first game.

King missed the front end of the 1-and-1 but Brickey got a hand on the rebound and Ferry put it back in for a 63-59 lead.  Madden hit two free throws at the 57 second mark to cut the lead back to two.  Duke then played keep-away for awhile and didn’t let King touch the ball.  Finally with the shot clock running down, Lebo stripped the ball away from Ferry.

Lebo and King Rice had a 2-on-1 against Snyder.  Snyder didn’t make a commitment to either player and forced Rice, the freshman with the ball, to take it himself.  Rice missed the layup at 14 seconds and Ferry got the ball.  He fed Brickey for a breakaway but Robert missed the layup.  Snyder got the rebound and collided with Lebo with 4 seconds left.

A foul was called on Lebo (it could have been a charge) and Snyder hit the clinching free throws to put the game away.

Duke had not beaten North Carolina three times in a season since 1966 and celebrated an unlikely ACC championship.  As a reward, they got to play the 1st 2 rounds at the Dean Dome (where a lot of tickets had been picked up by Tarheel fans, expecting to see North Carolina).  Duke beat Boston University and SMU easily in front of half-interested/half-hostile crowds.

North Carolina was sent out west to Salt Lake City as a #2 seed.  They beat North Texas and Loyola Marymount easily to advance to the Regional in Seattle.  In the Sweet 16, they dropped 3-seed Michigan for the 2nd straight year (they would meet for a third time in 1989 in a game on that’ll be 0n my blog) before bowing out to top-seeded Arizona 70-52 in the Regional Finals.

Duke starters (points scored)

Billy King (0) – Small Forward

Danny Ferry (19) – Power Forward

Robert Brickey (7) – Center

Quin Snyder (11) – Point Guard

Kevin Strickland (11) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

John Smith (12)

Phil Henderson (5)

Greg Koubek (0)

Alaa Abdelnaby (0)

Joe Cook (0)

Clay Buckley (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

North Carolina starters (points scored)

Steve Bucknall (4) – Small Forward

J.R. Reid (7) – Power Forward

Scott Williams (8) – Center

Jeff Lebo (16) – Point Guard

Kevin Madden (13) – Shooting Guard

North Carolina bench (points scored)

King Rice (2)

Rick Fox (4)

Ranzino Smith (7)

Pete Chilcutt (0)

North Carolina Coach: Dean Smith

DEANDOME1.SP.011886.RTW

Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski’s teams went tooth-to-nail in 1988, it would turn out to be nothing compared to 1989 *photo courtesy of Replay Photos

March 18, 1988 – East Regional 1st round: (#13)Richmond Spiders 72, (#4)Indiana Hoosiers 69

In the 1988 NCAA tournament, the East Regional seemed loaded.  The top eight seeds in order was Temple, Duke, Syracuse, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Missouri, SMU, and Georgetown.  As it turned out, only the top two seeds (Temple and Duke) would advance to the Sweet 16 as it was upsets galore.

The Indiana Hoosiers, coming off their National Championship, started the season ranked #6 but dropped when they got their second loss of the season against Louisville.  Then they dropped out of the polls for good (save for one week) when they stared off the Big Ten season at 1-4.  They recovered to 19-9 and 11-7 in the Big Ten.  It was good for 5th place in the Conference as the Big Ten got 5 teams into the NCAA tournament.

Steve Alford and Daryl Thomas had graduated but Keith Smart, Dean Garrett, and Rick Calloway were returning along with key bench players Steve Eyl and Joe Hillman and promising freshmen Jay Edwards and Lyndon Jones.  But it was an uneven season for all except maybe Garrett.  Calloway eventually found his way into Bob Knight’s doghouse and didn’t play against Richmond.  He would transfer to Kansas after the season.

But Indiana did have good tournament history and were 2-0 against Richmond in post-season.  They beat them in the 2nd round in 1984 and in the NIT in 1985.  Richmond senior big man Peter Woolfolk struggled as a freshman against the Hoosiers in the NIT and vowed retribution.  Head Coach Dick Tarrant’s Spiders had upset Auburn in 1984 before losing to Indiana.

They were 24-6 going into the NCAA tournament and had beaten George Mason for the Colonial Athletic Association championship.  Woolfolk started in the front court along with fellow senior Steve Kratzer.  Woolfolk, along with senior guard Rodney Rice, were the only double figure scorers for the Spiders.  The other starters were sophomore defensive ace forward Scott Stapleton and point guard Ken Atkinson.  Off the bench were juniors Mike Winiecki, Eric English and Benji Taylor.

Richmond started off well in this game from Hartford, Connecticut as Rice hit a three and Kratzer hit the offensive boards for two tip-ins.  But Keith Smart was ready for the NCAA tournament.  His last appearance was the National Championship Game in which he hit the game-winner.  Keith scored 8 early points before throwing down his second alley-oop and drawing the foul.  That three-point play gave the Hoosiers a 20-15 lead.

Indiana eventually took a 28-22 lead as Smart hit for 15 points and Richmond got into foul trouble.  Woolfolk committed two early fouls and then Stapleton picked up his 3rd.  With freshman star Jay Edwards lurking, Stapleton’s three fouls looked like a big deal.  But Indiana went ice cold.

Richmond started hitting the offensive boards again and got two putbacks to cut it to 28-26.  Woolfolk then tied it with two free throws and Rice hit a three for a Spiders lead.  Later, another Rice jumper (his 15th point) gave Richmond a 38-34 lead.  Kratzer hit a left-handed hook in the middle of the lane and Atkinson hit a pull-up in the lane over Hoosier backup center Todd Jadlow.  Atkinson’s basket with 5 seconds left gave the Spiders a 44-38 halftime lead.

The biggest thing that Richmond may have done in the 1st half was holding Dean Garrett to 1 point.  It was mentioned during the game that Richmond had defeated conference rival Navy for three straight years by holding down David Robinson.  Garrett hit a jumper in the lane and got many tips on one possession before finally putting it in early in the 2nd half, but he never really got going.

Rice hit two more jumpers to give the Spiders a 54-44 lead.  Smart hit a baseline jumper for his 19th point, but the run was really made when Edwards hit back-to-back threes to cut the lead to 54-52.  Baskets by Woolfolk and Atkinson stemmed the tide but another Edwards three cut the lead to 58-55.  Richmond was able to hold Indiana off for another few minutes but back-to-back jumpers from Smart gave the Hoosiers a 65-62 lead with 6:30 left.

The Hoosiers had a chance to increase that lead but Edwards missed a three.  Woolfolk then had a chance to tie it as he hit a jumper in the lane and drew a foul on Garrett.  But he missed the free throw.  The lead went back and forth before Indiana grabbed a 69-68 advantage with 2:40 left.  But they missed two chances to increase that lead.

A Rodney Rice pull-up from the top of the key gave Richmond a 70-69 lead and Indiana called timeout with 48 seconds left.  They had three timeouts left after this one, if the announcers were correct.  Lyndon Jones missed a pull-up in the lane but rebounded his miss and drew a foul.  But unlike the 1st half, Richmond hadn’t committed enough fouls to be in the bonus yet and the ball went out of bounds.  No timeout was called by Indiana.

Smart missed from the top and Rice rebounded.  The Spiders then had a breakaway and Atkinson finished with 14 seconds left and Richmond leading by three.  Again, no timeout called by Knight.  Edwards crossed the ball to Joe Hillman in the right corner.  Hillman, who hadn’t scored in the game, pump faked a defender and then was long on a three.  That was it, Indiana lost with three timeouts in their pocket (although if they had won or tied, the fact that Knight didn’t call a timeout wouldn’t have been an issue).

Richmond would defeat Georgia Tech 59-55 in the 2nd round before Temple put them away 69-47 in the Regional Semifinals.  Richmond was the first 13-seed to reach the Sweet 16.  Although this was a big upset by Tarrant and the Spiders, their biggest would come three years later.

Richmond starters (points scored)

Scott Stapleton (1) – Small Forward

Peter Woolfolk (16) – Power Forward

Steve Kratzer (12) – Center

Ken Atkinson (14) – Point Guard

Rodney Rice (21) – Shooting Guard

Richmond bench (points scored)

Mike Winiecki (4)

Eric English (4)

Benji Taylor (0)

Hank Dudek (0)

Richmond Coach: Dick Tarrant

Indiana starters (points scored)

Jay Edwards (16) – Small Forward

Steve Eyl (2) – Power Forward

Dean Garrett (9) – Center

Lyndon Jones (8) – Point Guard

Keith Smart (23) – Shooting Guard

Indiana bench (points scored)

Todd Jadlow (11)

Joe Hillman (0)

Indiana Coach: Bobby Knight

Atkinson-UR-Indiana

Richmond’s Ken Atkinson drives and scores against two Indiana defenders in Richmond big 1988 1st round upset *photo courtesy of Sports Then and Now

March 18, 1988 – East Regional 1st round: (#9)LSU Tigers 63, (#8)Georgetown Hoyas 66

Not only had Richmond upset Indiana in the East Regional (and would go on to upset Georgia Tech), but Rhode Island had upset Missouri (and would go on to upset Syracuse).  So it was the end of day 2 of the NCAA tournament and a moment that gets lost in the shuffle of miracles.  An approximately 30-foot bank shot to win a game.

Georgetown had lost Reggie Williams from the previous year and their roster was a wash.  John Thompson played 10 people and the only people who started over 20 games (of the 30 played by Georgetown) was senior forward Perry McDonald (who started all 30) and sophomore guard Mark Tillmon (24).  The rest of the roster filled out like this.  There were junior guards Charles Smith and Jaren Jackson, along with sophomore guard Dwayne Bryant and junior guard Bobby Winston.  Then there was the big men.  Center Ben Gillery started games but played just barely over 6 minutes a game.  There was senior banger Ronnie Highsmith and junior banger Johnathan Edwards, along with athletic sophomore Anthony Allen.  Did you get all that?  It was hard to tell at certain times who was in the game, like a hockey game.

Georgetown had tied for 3rd in the Big East with a 9-7 record and lost in the 1st round of the Big East tournament to Seton Hall, who we’ll hear from in 1989.  The Hoyas came into this game at 19-9 and hadn’t played in a week.

LSU didn’t go nearly as deep as Georgetown but they had a good starting five.  They were led by seniors, center Jose Vargas and defensive ace Bernard Woodside, as well as junior forward Ricky Blanton.  Blanton had sat out the 1987 season (after being a starter on the 1986 Final Four team) with a knee injury.  There was also senior point guard Darryl Joe.  The 5th starter was freshman Wayne Sims, who had come on for Dale Brown late in the season.

LSU was going through a tough season that didn’t have much to do with basketball.  On January 5, LSU legend Pete Maravich died of a heart attack during a pickup basketball game in Pasadena, California.  Then on March 8, Don Redden (a star of the ’86 team) died of a heart ailment.  Three days later, LSU opended the SEC tournament with an 87-80 win over Vanderbilt as Redden’s friend, Ricky Blanton, scored 30 points.

LSU had finished 10-8 in the SEC, which was tied with Vanderbilt for 4th place.  The Tigers lost to top-seeded Kentucky in the Semifinals.  Vanderbilt would go on to lose to Kansas in the Sweet 16, after upsetting Pittsburgh.

LSU was trying to continue a 4-0 SEC record in the 1st round in 1988, but Georgetown got an early 4-0 advantage thanks to their press.  LSU scored the next 7 points though as the teams battled back-and-forth until a 14-2 LSU run put them up 32-23.  But Jaren Jackson, the only Hoya on their 1988 roster to have a major impact in the NBA, scored the next 5 points and later hit a three woth 7 seconds left to cut LSU’s halftime lead to 37-35.

Georgetown was getting its scoring from Jackson, Mark Tillmon, Charles Smith and Perry McDonald.  While for LSU, Darryl Joe had 13 1st half points to lead the way.  But Blanton, Vargas and Sims also contributed.

Sims hit two quick jumpers in the ealy portion of the 2nd half, but Jackson first threw a perfect behind-the-back pass for a Dwayne Bryant reverse in transition and then tipped in his own miss for a 42-41 Hoyas lead.  Jackson then got a steal and McDonald tipped in a Bryant miss.  Tillmon hit a three, Bryant hit a runner and Highsmith got a slam on a Bobby Winston feed.  LSU called timeout as Georgetown was on a 13-0 run and led 51-41.

A Vargas three-point play broke the scoreless streak for LSU but another Jackson three put the Hoyas up 56-45.  But Highsmith and Edwards committed their 4th fouls, which allowed Vargas to control the offensive and defensive boards.  Georgetown went cold as a result and LSU cut it to 56-52 when freshman reserve Lyle Mouton hit a three in transition.  A three from Blanton cut it to 57-55.

The rest of the game was typical 1980’s Georgetown game.  Ugliness and not a lot of scoring.  The Hoyas were able to keep their lead as Jackson eventually nailed another three for his 20th point.  LSU finally tied it at 63 with under 1:00 to go when Blanton found Sims for an elbow jumper.  Georgetown then called a timeout at 37 seconds, ran the clock down, and called another timeout at 9 seconds.

Whatever play John Thompson called couldn’t have been what happened.  Charles Smith went into the back court to get the ball and dribbled up quickly but couldn’t find anybody.  Then with the clock running down, Smith threw up a prayer.  By g-d, it was answered.  Smith banked it in at the buzzer and Georgetown moved on to play Temple.

Georgetown didn’t have any more prayers against Temple in the 2nd round as they lost 74-53.  But Georgetown did have two real players on the horizon.  Two big guys arrived for 1989 by the names of Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo.

Temple’s back-to-back thrashings of Georgetown and Richmond left the number 1 team in the country on the cusp of John Chaney’s 1st Final Four.  Temple got to sit back and see who they would be playing in the Regional Finals.  Either cinderella and conference rival Rhode Island or up-and-coming 2-seeded Duke.

LSU starters (points scored)

Ricky Blanton (13) – Small Forward

Wayne Sims (16) – Power Forward

Jose Vargas (13) – Center

Darryl Joe (14) – Point Guard

Bernard Woodside (3) – Shooting Guard

LSU bench (points scored)

Lyle Mouton (4)

Fess Irvin (0)

LSU Coach: Dale Brown

Georgetown starters (points scored)

Perry McDonald (9) – Small Forward

Ronnie Highsmith (4) – Power Forward

Ben Gillery (0) – Center

Charles Smith (10) – Point Guard

Mark Tillmon (15) – Shooting Guard

Georgetown bench (points scored)

Jaren Jackson (20)

Dwayne Bryant (6)

Bobby Winston (0)

Johnathan Edwards (0)

Anthony Allen (2)

Anthony Tucker (0)

Georgetown Coach: John Thompson

'88 olympics

The 1988 Olympic Team was coached by John Thompson and had Georgetown hero against LSU Charles Smith (#16, front row) on the roster.  They got a bronze medal in Seoul and for 1992, the Olympic team was comprised of NBA players *photo courtesy of Georgetown library

March 24, 1988 – East Regional Semifinals: (#11)Rhode Island Rams 72, (#2)Duke Blue Devils 73

In 1988, the Rhode Island Rams, under 2nd year coach Tom Penders, were making their 4th ever NCAA tournament.  They had not won a game in the first three.  Penders, after coaching at Columbia and Fordham, had turned around Rhode Island and was making his first NCAA tournament coaching appearance.

He had some players with interesting backgrounds at his disposal.  The senior back court of Carlton “Silk” Owens and Tom Garrick led the way.  Owens had been shot in the left elbow while at a party as a youngster and played with the bullet still lodged in his left elbow.  Tom Garrick’s father had lost his vision due to a land mine at the end of WWII, and can be seen during this game with family giving him the play-by-play.  The story of Garrick’s father captured the country’s attention when Rhode Island beat Missouri and Syracuse in the 1st 2 rounds.

There was also the story of backup center Kenny Green, who had his knee operated on three times and finally said before his sophomore season that he just wasn’t going to practice (how would you like that schedule?).  Green somehow played two more years at Rhode Island and then 12 years professionally.  Green got most of the playing time in this game over starting center Bonzie Colson.  The forwards were athletic John Evans and Mergin Sina.  Those were the six players who got most of URI’s playing time under Penders.  They had finished 26-6 on the season and had gotten into the tournament despite losing three times to conference rival, Temple.  If they beat Duke, they would get a 4th chance.

But Duke’s pressure defense shocked Rhode Island early.  The Devils also pushed the tempo and got out to a 10-2 lead with Robert Brickey scoring 6 points and a struggling Danny Ferry hitting two jumpers.  Brickey got another slam and the score was 12-5 Duke.  Then Billy King hit a jumper in the lane for a rare field goal.  King then lobbed to John Smith for a layup and Ferry touch-passed a ball to Kevin Strickland to finish a 3-on-1 break.  It was 18-5 Duke.

But Garrick, a few possessions after getting a basket taken away by a charge, hit a pull-up in the lane.  Green followed with a turnaround in the post.  Duke went into a customary drought and a three-point play from Sina eventually cut the lead to 18-12.  Two free throws from Owens cut it to four before three straight buckets from Smith put Duke back up 24-16.

Smith ended up being Duke’s only offense for awhile as Rhode Island continued to make their comeback.  A Garrick steal and banker on a 3-on-1 break tied the game at 28.  Evans then gave the Rams the lead with two free throws.  But then Ferry got back involved by getting on the offensive boards for three putbacks that put the Devils back ahead.  But two free throws by Owens, for his 10th point, cut the Duke lead to 38-37 at the half.

Owens started the 2nd half with two field goals.  The latter was of a spectacular variety that gave his team momentum.  He drove into the defense and jumped into the air against two Blue Devils.  He then went up-and-under between the two of them, in the air, and laid it in.  This gave Rhode Island a 41-40 lead.  An Evans steal and layup and then an Owens dish to Garrick on a 3-on-1 break put Rhode Island up 45-40 and forced a Duke timeout.

Rhode Island maintained its lead for the next few minutes but their offense slowed down when Krzyzewski switched to a rare zone defense.  But Duke couldn’t take advantage as their offense failed to show up after grabbing an 18-5 lead.  But then the senior Kevin Strickland came alive.  He hit a three and then a banker in the lane to give Duke a 54-53 lead.

Strickland’s jumper in the lane gave the Devils a 57-55 lead.  It turned out to be the last lead change, and tie.  Both teams went into a drought as Duke maintained its lead despite Strickland, Brickey and Ferry picking up their 4th fouls.

Finally, with under 5:00 left, Strickland hit a pull-up from the foul line to give Duke a 64-61 lead.  Then Quin Snyder found Brickey with a bounce pass through three defenders for a slam after Duke killed some clock.  Strickland’s two free throws with 2:13 left gave Duke a 68-61 lead.  Then the score, call timeout, and foul game began for Rhode Island.  It brought them to within 70-67 with 54 seconds left, but they were forced to use their last timeout at that time.

Strickland then hit the first free throw of a 1-and-1 but missed the second.  Brickey, however, got the rebound and Strickland was fouled again.  But the game wasn’t over as Kevin missed the front end this time.  A Green slam cut Duke’s lead to 71-69 with 29 seconds left.  Duke then moved it around until Garrick fouled Brickey with 13 seconds left.

Other than Billy King, who wasn’t touching the ball, Brickey was probably the best person on the floor for URI to foul as he shot just under 69% from the line that season.  But Robert made both ends of the 1-and-1 to finish off a 7-for-9 day from the line and give Duke a 73-69 lead.  Owens nailed a three with 7 seconds left, but the Rams had no timeouts and couldn’t stop the clock, or commit a foul.  Duke moved on to play top-seeded Temple.

Billy King, the national defensive player of the year, showed why by shutting down freshman sensation Mark Macon and holding him to 6-for-29 from the field.  This helped Duke break open the game in the 2nd half and win 63-53.  This allowed Duke to go to its 2nd Final Four in three years.  Just like 1986, they got to play Kansas in the Semifinals while top-seeds Oklahoma and Arizona squared off in the 2nd semifinal.

For Rhode Island, Penders would move onto Texas after the season and the Rams wouldn’t make another NCAA tournament appearance until 1993.  But they would make a deeper run in 1998 and lose in even more heartbreaking fashion.

Rhode Island starters (points scored)

John Evans (14) – Small Forward

Mergin Sina (14) – Power Forward

Bonzie Colson (0) – Center

Carlton Owens (19) – Point Guard

Tom Garrick (14) – Shooting Guard

Rhode Island bench (points scored)

Kenny Green (11)

Steve Lane (0)

Josh Oppenheimer (0)

Rhode Island Coach: Tom Penders

Duke starters (points scored)

Billy King (3) – Small Forward

Danny Ferry (17) – Power Forward

Robert Brickey (15) – Center

Quin Snyder (4) – Point Guard

Kevin Strickland (14) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

John Smith (12)

Phil Henderson (2)

Greg Koubek (4)

Alaa Abdelnaby (2)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

April 2, 1988 – National Semifinals: (#6)Kansas Jayhawks 66, (#2)Duke Blue Devils 59

Not only had Kansas and Duke squared off in the 1986 Final Four, but they had matched up on February 20.  Duke won in overtime at Allen Fieldhouse after Kansas had taken a 23-8 lead.  Larry Brown was now 0-3 against Duke and Danny Manning had a bad memory of the ’86 Final Four in which he scored 4 points and fouled out in the 71-67 loss.

But Kansas would have a huge advantage in the Final Four with it being in its backyard in Kansas City.  Even though the Duke hate hadn’t fully manifested itself yet, it was basically a road game for the Blue Devils.  But that didn’t turn out to be their biggest problem.

On the first possession, Quin Snyder fed Danny Ferry under the basket.  Ferry missed the layup.  This set the stage for the first 5 minutes.  Chris Piper hit two free throws for Kansas, then Milt Newton hit a three.  Manning got started by tipping a Kevin Pritchard lob off the glass and then putting it back in.  Then Manning tipped in a Newton miss on the break and Kansas led 9-0.

Ferry’s layup was the only easy shot Duke got in the early minutes.  Kansas’ defense forced 6 turnovers on Duke’s first 13 possessions.  When the Blue Devils did get shots off, they were short, more often than not.

The Kansas run continued as Newton hit another three and then a breakaway layup after a Manning knockaway.  Five minutes into the game, it was 14-0.  That’s not a good sign in football.  In basketball, that’s even worse.  Duke finally got on the board when Alaa Abdelnaby hit a hook shot.  But Manning got a breakaway slam on a Newton lead to help Kansas build an 18-2 advantage.

Ferry hit back-to-back baskets to give Duke some hope but then Manning scored two field goals and Piper drove down the lane for a goal.  The score was now 24-6 and Kemper Arena in KC was ecstatic.  I’m sure they expected a Kansas win but this was a bit more than they bargained for.

Duke did go on an 8-0 run but never could get any closer than 10.  Manning and Newton led the way with 15 and 14 first half points, respectively.  One expected production from Manning but Kansas success had come from an “unknown” Jayhawk contributing beyond what the opponent expected.  Newton fit the bill in this one.

Duke did cut their halftime deficit to 38-27 when Snyder drove down the lane for a layup with 5 seconds to go.  Snyder started the 2nd half with a free throw but Duke couldn’t break the 10-point barrier.

Kevin Pritchard hit a runner in the lane.  Newton drove baseline for a slam.  Pritchard found Manning for a layup.  Duke called a timeout down 44-28.  They were starting the 2nd half like the 1st half as they couldn’t get any offense.  After shutting down freshman sensation, Mark Macon, so memorably a week earlier, Billy King was being torched by Newton, had 3 fouls, and hadn’t scored.

Kansas increased its lead to 46-28 when Manning tipped in a Pritchard miss on the break.  It was then that Duke finally found some offense, although it didn’t start out pretty.  Ferry was able to recover another Duke miss and feed Kevin Strickland for a layup.  Then Snyder got the roll on a runner while Ferry picked up his 3rd foul battling for rebound position.  Then Robert Brickey drew Manning’s 3rd foul while trying to dunk over him on the break.  It should have been a charge, but after a second of hesitation, the call went Duke’s way.

Brickey split a pair of free throws and then Newton hit a baseline pull-up over King and drew a foul.  The three-point play put the Jayhawks back up 49-33.  But Snyder hit Ferry with a bounce pass for a layup.  Then Ferry put back a miss and hit two free throws.  Freshman Greg Koubek then got involved for Duke by hitting a bank shot to cut the lead to 49-41.

Manning stemmed the tide briefly with a hook.  But then Koubek hit a three and King got a layup after a great inbounds pass from Ferry.  Duke had cut the lead to 51-46 but missed several opportunities to further slice the lead, this included a three-point attempt by Strickland that rolled around the rim but didn’t fall through.  Also, contributing to Duke’s struggles throughout this game was their inability to convert fast break opportunities.  A King missed layup on a 2-on-1 that could have also cut the lead was the most jarring example.

Kansas re-built its lead when Newton hit Piper with a great wrap-around pass for a layup and then Manning hit a turnaround.  But in the final 4 minutes, Duke made its final run, which included some fast break baskets.  After Ferry hit a banker, Snyder got a steal and Strickland a breakaway slam.  Then a Ferry steal and dunk cut the lead to 55-52.

Kansas responded with an incredible basket that probably had fans of both teams thinking, “this is their night.”  The 6’3″ Pritchard got the ball inside and went into the air against the 6’5″ Kevin Strickland.  Pritchard hung in the air for a second and then brought the ball back to avoid a Strickland block.  Then he banked one in for a 57-52 Kansas lead.

Strickland penetrated and hit Snyder for a baseline jumper to cut the lead again, but with 2:06 left, Manning tipped in a Pritchard miss.  Ferry, later, committed his 4th foul away from the ball and Piper hit two free throws for a 61-55 lead with just over 1:30 to go.  Duke then went into three-point bricking mode and Manning punctuated the day with his 7th block with just over 10 seconds to go.

Manning had a double-double to go with that 7th block and cinderella Kansas was moving on.  As Jim Nantz said in the postgame, cinderella wasn’t a woman but a Manning (ba-da-bump).

Kansas starters (points scored)

Milt Newton (20) – Small Forward

Chris Piper (10) – Power Forward

Danny Manning (25) – Center

Kevin Pritchard (6) – Point Guard

Jeff Gueldner (0) – Shooting Guard

Kansas bench (points scored)

Scooter Barry (5)

Keith Harris (0)

Clint Normore (0)

Lincoln Minor (0)

Mike Maddox (0)

Kansas Coach: Larry Brown

Duke starters (points scored)

Billy King (3) – Small Forward

Danny Ferry (19) – Power Forward

Robert Brickey (6) – Center

Quin Snyder (9) – Point Guard

Kevin Strickland (10) – Shooting Guard

Duke bench (points scored)

Greg Koubek (8)

Phil Henderson (0)

Alaa Abdelnaby (4)

John Smith (0)

Joe Cook (0)

Duke Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

danny manning vs duke

Danny Manning drives by Robert Brickey in the 1988 Final Four.  Manning had a much better performance against Duke than he did in ’86 and his Jayhawks had beaten the Blue Devils this time *photo courtesy of fanbase

April 2, 1988 – National Semifinals: (#1)Arizona Wildcats 78, (#1)Oklahoma Sooners 86

In a Final Four that was shaping eeringly to 1983, the 6th seeded Jayhawks would take on the winner of a second Semifinal of two #1 seeds.  Furthermore, Arizona and Oklahoma were both teams that liked to go up-and-down the floor, which brought back some memories of Louisville/Houston from ’83.  This game didn’t quite live up to those odds.

For the first time under Lute Olson, the Wildcats advanced beyond the 1st round.  Not only did they do that but they dominated the West Regional.  They beat Cornell, Seton Hall, Iowa and North Carolina by margins of 40, 29, 20, and 18.  The Wildcats were now 35-2 on the season.

Their stars were juniors Sean Elliott and Anthony Cook.  But their seniors weren’t too bad either.  There was center Tom Tolbert and guards Craig McMillan and Steve Kerr.  Kerr had red-shirted in 1987 but came back in ’88 to shoot 102-for-167 from three-point range, setting a percentage and number of makes record.  Off the bench, Arizona had future MLB leadoff hitting star Kenny Lofton as a junior and Jud Buechler as a sophomore.  There was also senior center Joe Turner.

Billy Tubbs had led Oklahoma to 5 straight NCAA tournament appearances before 1988.  The farthest he had gotten was the ’85 Regional Finals with Wayman Tisdale leading the way.  But they exploded in 1988 with a lineup fully of upper-classmen.  Senior Clemson transfer Harvey Grant (twin brother of Horace Grant) started inside along with junior Stacey King.  5th-year senior Dave Sieger was the shooter.  The back-court was two JC transfers.  Senior Ricky Grace had recruited former JC teammate Mookie Blaylock to Oklahoma before the ’88 season.  Together, they created havoc defensively for opposing guards.  The Sooners didn’t use their bench much but occasionally got contributions from JC transfer forward Andre Wiley and freshman shooter Terrence Mullins.

Oklahoma finished the regular season at 30-3 and won the Big Eight Championship.  They also ran through the tournament with nary a challenge, beating Chattanooga, Auburn, Louisville and Villanova by margins of 28, 20, 10, and 19.

Arizona had some early success against the Oklahoma press as Elliott and Cook each got two field goals for a 9-2 Arizona lead.  But then a Blaylock steal led to a Sieger layup.  Grace followed with a steal and pull-up jumper in the lane.  King also started establishing himself inside for the Sooners.  Back-to-back turnaround bankers from the post by Stacey put Oklahoma ahead 14-13.

Elliott briefly kept Arizona around by hitting his first 5 shots.  But after Tolbert hit an elbow jumper to cut the Sooners lead to 20-19, the Wildcats went cold.  Not only were they affected by the pressure and quickness of Blaylock and Grace (Arizona committed 9 1st half turnovers), but the Wildcats (most notably Kerr) couldn’t hit an outside shot to save their lives.

King hit a jumper in the lane and blocked a shot at the other end.  A Sieger three put the Sooners up 25-19.  Then Grant and Wiley combined for the next 6 points and Oklahoma led 31-19.  Blaylock was not only creating havoc in the backcourt but he snuck in for offensive rebounds during Oklahoma’s surge as well.

Finally, Kerr and McMillan hit threes.  But they were matched by treys from Grace and Mullins as Oklahoma took a 39-27 lead into the half.

Grant and King continued their dominance to start the 2nd half and keep Oklahoma ahead.  But Tom Tolbert started to get going for the Wildcats.  He scored 8 early points as Arizona cut the lead to 47-40.  Later, back-to-back baskets by Jud Buechler (including a finish on a 3-on-1 break after Lofton made a great steal) cut the Sooners lead to 50-46.

But, like Duke in the first game, Arizona could not cut the margin any closer.  Their best chance came when Kerr got into the lane.  But Steve punctuated his 2-for-13 performance by missing a seemingly easy shot in the lane.  An Elliott drive and slam over King did cut the lead to 51-48 but Grant hit two free throws and King hit another banker in the lane.  A Grace three put Oklahoma back up 58-49.

But King committed his 4th and Elliott scored 5 straight points to bring the Wildcats back to within four.   However, even without King (who sat for the rest of the game) Oklahoma’s inside power was proving to be too much.  This was punctuated by the fact that Andre Wiley, who wouldn’t even play a minute in the championship game, was having a strong effect.  Sieger’s putback of his own miss started an 8-0 Sooners run that put them up 70-57.

After Arizona cut it to ten with 2:39 left, they played the foul game that made the last 2 minutes about 20 minutes in actual time.  It didn’t quite work out as Arizona still couldn’t buy an outside shot.  Elliott would showcase his future NBA talent with 31 points (and unlike today’s mindset, there was no chance he was going to the NBA after his junior season.. today, he wouldn’t have gotten to a junior season) and Kerr’s shooting performance would not showcase what became some clutch NBA performances.  But Oklahoma was too strong on this day and now would try to beat Kansas for a third time this season.

Just like 1983, after their semifinal performance, the top seed seemed like a lock to defeat the underdog in a game that probably wasn’t going to be close.

Arizona starters (points scored)

Sean Elliott (31) – Small Forward

Anthony Cook (16) – Power Forward

Tom Tolbert (11) – Center

Steve Kerr (6) – Point Guard

Craig McMillan (8) – Shooting Guard

Arizona bench (points scored)

Kenny Lofton (2)

Joe Turner (0)

Jud Buechler (4)

Harvey Mason (0)

Arizona Coach: Lute Olson

Oklahoma starters (points scored)

Dave Sieger (10) – Small Forward

Harvey Grant (21) – Power Forward

Stacey King (21) – Center

Mookie Blaylock (7) – Point Guard

Ricky Grace (13) – Shooting Guard

Oklahoma bench (points scored)

Andre Wiley (11)

Terrence Mullins (3)

Oklahoma Coach: Billy Tubbs

88sooners

Stacey King smiles with frontcourt mate Harvey Grant in the background *photo courtesy of centennial.newsok.com

April 4, 1988 – National Championship Game: (#6)Kansas Jayhawks 83, (#1)Oklahoma Sooners 79

As well as being similar to the 1983 Championship Game, there was obvious similarities to the 1985 Championship Game as well; big underdog, conference rival who had beaten underdog twice, and hot shooting – as it turned out.

Kansas did have the Player of the Year but Oklahoma had perhaps the best starting five in the country.  The Sooners had beaten Kansas twice that season (both victory margins were by 8 points), and were the best running and conditioned team in the country.  Oklahoma was going for their second National Championship of the year, but looking for a better result after Miami had beaten them 20-14 in the Orange Bowl.

The Jayhawks shocked everybody by coming out and running with the Sooners.  Oklahoma got its first basket 4 seconds after the opening tip when Mookie Blaylock hit a wing jumper.  The Sooners then came out and pressed, but Kansas attacked it and got several easy shots.  Danny Manning hit his first two shots, Kevin Pritchard hit a pull-up in the lane after breaking the press, and Milt Newton got a layup on a Pritchard feed in transition.

Dave Sieger hit a three for Oklahoma to start a 7-2 run that gave the Sooners an 11-10 lead.  But Pritchard hit a pull-up from the wing after breaking the press.  Later, Pritchard got a steal and Newton scored on a nifty reverse layup.  Then Clint Normore, who played safety for the Kansas football team, hit on a breakaway layup for an 18-13 Jayhawks advantage.

Stacey King’s three-point play cut it to two before Manning got his 4th basket on an alley-oop pass from Scooter Barry.  Sieger then hit another three but Kansas regained a five-point lead when Normore and Jeff Gueldner got fast break layups.  But then Manning picked up his 2nd foul and sat down.

Kansas kept pushing the tempo and maintained a 31-25 lead when Pritchard hit a three.  But then Sieger hit his third trey, King hit a jumper from the post, and Blaylock tied it at 33 with a three-pointer.  Kansas then ran down the shot clock before Normore hit a three from the top for his 7th point (a career high).  Kansas was now 17-for-20 from the field after that made basket, but they still only led 36-33.

Harvey Grant hit two free throws and a field goal to give Oklahoma a lead.  Then King got a steal and slam for a 39-36 Oklahoma lead.  Manning hit a hook to bring Kansas back.  Then Newton and Sieger exchanged threes to bring the game to a 48-all tie in the final minute of the half.  Manning stole an entry pass and took it the length of the court, finished with a hanging layup against King and drew the foul.

Manning missed the free throw and Ricky Grace tied it at 50.  The half ended with that score and everybody sought to catch their breath.  It was a fan-pleasing 1st half as the shooting was great and the unexpected performance of Kansas was exhilaratingly unbelievable for the many Kansas fans in Kansas City.  But the fact remained that this was Oklahoma’s tempo and if the Jayhawks kept it up, they would probably lose.

So they slowed the pace down and their defense didn’t allow Oklahoma to score and set up their press.  It didn’t start out well for Kansas as Manning picked up his 3rd foul.  But he stayed in and broke a 52-all tie by putting back his own miss.  Kansas maintained a lead through much of the early portion, but Sieger’s 7th three of the game put the Sooners ahead 61-60.

Then Blaylock stole the ball from Barry and scored to force a timeout from Larry Brown, who was coaching his last college game until November 11, 2012.  But a King jumper in the lane put the Sooners up 65-60 and Rock Chalk Jayhawk let out a collective “Uh-Oh!”

But Chris Piper, the unsung hero of the team, hit a jumper from the top and then Manning hit a leaning jumper after getting King in the air and drawing a foul on Stacey.  This three-point play tied the game.  Blaylock hit a three for another Oklahoma lead but the Sooners would have trouble scoring for awhile as their jumpers started to miss for the first time all game and they didn’t adjust by going inside.

A Manning layup and jump hook gave Kansas a lead again.  Then Pritchard penetrated and found Piper for a baseline jumper.  Oklahoma tied it at 71 when Grant hit a turnaround from the post but a Pritchard runner from the baseline gave the Jayhawks the lead for good.  Grant’s basket was Oklahoma’s only field goal in 10 attempts over a 5:00 stretch.

Manning drove and finished with the left hand and then Kansas ran down the shot clock on their next possession.  With time running out, Normore drove and hit Piper for a short baseline jumper.  This gave Kansas a 77-71 with just over 2:00 left but the Jayhawks couldn’t put the game away as they hit 1 of their next 4 free throws (including two misses on front ends of 1-and-1’s).

Oklahoma had a chance to tie it at 78 after Blaylock stole an inbounds pass but Grace missed a three.  Instead, the Sooners had to settle for trailing 78-77 when Blaylock hit a turnaround from the elbow with 40 seconds left.  The Sooners wasted 24 seconds before Blaylock committed his 4th foul on Barry.  Scooter’s father, Rick, was one of the best free throw shooters in NBA history and shot them underhanded.

Scooter’s first overhanded shot was good for a 79-77 Jayhawk lead.  He was way short on the second but Manning got his hand on the rebound long enough for King to foul him.  With 14 seconds left, Manning’s two free throws gave Kansas an 81-77 lead.  Grace drove the length of the floor for a layup before calling Oklahoma’s last timeout with 7 seconds to go.

After Kansas had to use a timeout, they got the ball to Manning, who was fouled with 5 seconds to go.  Danny’s front end of the 1-and-1 caromed in off the rim.  The second one was clean and sealed the National Championship for Kansas in what forever would be known as the Danny and the Miracles team.

Manning followed his National Championship and National Player of the Year season by being selected #1 in the draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.  That would be about the end of the great moments in Danny Manning’s basketball career.

For Kansas, the saga of Larry Brown was beginning.  At a press conference 5 days after the National Championship Game, Brown announced that he turned down an offer from UCLA and was staying at Kansas.   But then two months later, he accepted an offer from the San Antonio Spurs to coach them.  Then in the beginning of the 1989 season, Kansas was hit with a three-year probation after an NCAA investigation uncovered recruiting violations.  Brown admitted that he gave a possible transfer enough money for a round-trip plane ticket home to visit his ailing grandmother.  Either way, new coach (and former UNC assistant) Roy Williams would not coach any games in the 1989 NCAA tournament.  But he had his team in the same position in 1991 that Brown had them in 1988, with a chance to win a National Championship.

Kansas starters (points scored)

Milt Newton (15) – Small Forward

Chris Piper (8) – Power Forward

Danny Manning (31) – Center

Kevin Pritchard (13) – Point Guard

Jeff Gueldner (2) – Shooting Guard

Kansas bench (points scored)

Scooter Barry (1)

Keith Harris (2)

Clint Normore (7)

Lincoln Minor (4)

Mike Maddox (0)

Kansas Coach: Larry Brown

Oklahoma starters (points scored)

Dave Sieger (22) – Small Forward

Harvey Grant (14) – Power Forward

Stacey King (17) – Center

Mookie Blaylock (14) – Point Guard

Ricky Grace (12) – Shooting Guard

Oklahoma bench (points scored)

Terrence Mullins (0)

Oklahoma Coach: Billy Tubbs

danny-manning-1988-2 manning

Danny Manning had 31 points and 18 rebounds against Oklahoma in the 1988 National Championship Game *photo courtesy of New England Flag and Banner and MM Bolding

After Manning was taken with the top-pick in the 1988 NBA draft, Marist’s Rik Smits was taken by Indiana, Pitt’s Charles Smith was taken by Philadelphia and then traded to the L.A. Clippers for Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins (the 6th pick).  Auburn’s Chris Morris (who appeared in the 1986 College Basketball post) was taken 4th by the New Jersey Nets and Kansas State’s Mitch Richmond was taken 5th by the Golden State Warriors.

Kentucky’s Rex Chapman and Syracuse’s Rony Seikaly (both appeared in the 1987 College Basketball post) were taken 8th and 9th by the expansion Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat.  Oklahoma’s Harvey Grant was taken 12th by the Washington Bullets.  Michigan’s Gary Grant (appeared in 1985 College Basketball post) was taken 15th by the Seattle Sonics and traded to the Clippers on draft day for Michael Cage.  Missouri’s Derrick Chievous and Wyoming’s Eric Leckner were taken 16th and 17th by Houston and Utah.  Pitt’s backboard breaking Jerome Lane was selected by the Denver Nuggets at 23.

In the second round, St. John’s Shelton Jones was taken at 27 by the Spurs.  Jones played with three teams in only one season in the NBA.  NC State’s Vinny Del Negro was taken two picks later by the Sacramento Kings.  A pick after that, Wyoming’s Fennis Dembo was selected by the Detroit Pistons.  Purdue’s Everette Stephens and NC State’s Charles Shackleford were taken in the next two picks by Philadelphia and New Jersey.

Arizona’s Tom Tolbert was taken by Charlotte at 34.  Indiana’s Dean Garrett was taken at 38 by Phoenix (he wouldn’t appear in the NBA until 1996).  Garrett’s Indiana teammate Keith Smart was selected by Golden State at 41.  Iowa’s Jeff Moe and Purdue’s Todd Mitchell were the next two picks courtesy of Utah and Denver (Moe didn’t play in the NBA at all and Mitchell only played one season and 24 games.. for Miami and San Antonio).

Rhode Island’s Tom Garrick was the Clippers pick at 45.  Florida’s Vernon Maxwell was Denver’s at 47.  Dallas drafted LSU’s Jose Vargas at 49, he never played in the NBA.  In the 2nd round’s last pick, Phoenix took Arizona’s Steve Kerr.

Notable 3rd round picks were Kentucky’s Rob Lock and Winston Bennett, Austin Peay’s (and former Louisville Cardinal) Barry Sumpter, Loyola Marymount’s (and former UCLA Bruin) Corey Gaines, Oklahoma’s Ricky Grace, Georgia Tech’s Craig Neal, and UNLV’s Gerald Paddio.  Each of them played at least a game (and in some cases, only a game) in the NBA.  3rd round picks who never made the NBA, Kentucky’s Ed Davender, Louisville’s Herbert Crook, Maryland’s Derrick Lewis, Auburn’s Mike Jones, Memphis State’s Dwight Boyd, and Kansas’ Archie Marshall, a sentimental last pick by San Antonio and Larry Brown as a reward for his hard work coming back from two torn ligaments.

Notable undrafted players in 1988 were Georgia Tech’s Duane Ferrell, who signed on with the Atlanta Hawks.  There was also Georgetown’s Ben Gillery, who signed on with Sacramento and played 24 games for them in 1989.

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