Tag Archives: Kansas Jayhawks Basketball

March Madness – From Pistol Pete to a Magic Carpet Ride

I didn’t begin to grow my hair, longer than the crew cut I sported at the time, because of the influence of rock groups I listened to, like Steppenwolf and Cream, who were popular at the time. It was due to a basketball player who was my idol, “Pistol” Pete Maravich. I loved the way Pistol Pete’s shaggy brown hair flopped as he brought the ball up the court for his team, the LSU Tigers.

Freshmen weren’t allowed to play on the varsity back in 1966, so Pete’s first year as a starter for the Bayou Bengals was the fall of 1967. And there were very few games that were televised back then, but when there was a game on television I was watching. I couldn’t wait for Saturday afternoons and the SEC game of the week.

I was also a sophomore on our high school’s team in ’67 (we didn’t have a varsity and junior varsity). We had an “A” team and a “B” team and I was on the “B” team.

The problem was, we had to cut our hair to play sports at Wilcox County High School in Camden, AL. I began to let mine grow in 1968 which was my second year on the “B” team (that team went 17-0 by the way). But come November and basketball practice, whack, we had to get that hair cut. Mine wasn’t trimmed short enough so I had to go back and get it snipped again. And friends, it wasn’t very long to begin with.

The fall of 1968 was also when I had my first kiss, my first taste of whiskey, and my first cigarette. I’ve since given up the cigarettes.

So those were heady days. And as the lyrics to the Grateful Dead’s Uncle John’s Band go, “Wo, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?”

It has now been 50 years since Pistol Pete Maravich was in his first varsity season down in Baton Rouge. I was fortunate to witness him play the first game in what became Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn on January 11, 1969. The home team Tigers won that game, 90-71. Sorry Pete.

And, it is noteworthy that LSU never made the NCAA Tournament during Maravich’s playing days. They did receive an invitation to the NIT his senior year.

March wasn’t exactly bursting with madness back in those days. In fact, there were only 23 teams in the NCAA Tournament. But, the UCLA Bruins were in the middle of a three-year title run under the tutelage of John Wooden and the leadership of their star center, Lew Alcindor, who was later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Yes, it’s a long way from those 23 teams, from 50 years ago, to the field of 68 that we grapple with today, and there are 10 of the usual suspects (North Carolina, Princeton, West Virginia, Dayton, Virginia Tech, Kansas, Louisville, New Mexico State, SMU, and UCLA) in both sets of brackets.

But interest is at a fever pitch, in the year 2017, and we are all caught in the throes of what is now termed “March Madness.”

The “Sweet 16” will have begun play by the time you read this, and here is the way I see it shaking down.

In chronological order:

Sweet 16

Michigan over Oregon

Gonzaga over West Virginia

Kansas over Purdue

Arizona over Xavier

North Carolina over Butler

South Carolina (Welcome Cinderella!) over Baylor

UCLA over Kentucky

Wisconsin over Florida


Elite Eight

South Carolina over Wisconsin

Gonzaga over Arizona

Kansas over Michigan

UCLA over North Carolina


That leaves us with a Final Four of:

South Carolina vs. Gonzaga

Kansas vs. UCLA


So let’s fasten our seat belts as we approach the final turn on that magic carpet ride… ”March Madness.”


E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Will Roy Williams Crush Kent Babb Like a Dove?

The University of North Carolina Tar heels (UNC) basketball team and Roy Williams have had a March to remember. They won the ACC and were awarded a coveted 1-seed by the NCAA Tournament committee. UNC has lived up to their seeding as they’ve cruised into the championship game against the Villanova Wildcats. March Madness has been good to the Tar Heels.

With all of the success UNC has had during the 2015-16 season, there is a shadow that looms over them and Roy Williams. The Washington Post’s Kent Babb illuminated the issues surrounding Williams and his UNC program when he published “Scandals and health burden Roy Williams to deliver for the players he loves.”

These allegations of academic fraud are not new revelations for UNC. The NCAA has been investigating the academic climate at UNC and as Sara Ganin and Devon Sayers stated in their CNN article; there were 18 years of academic fraud that had taken place at UNC.

Whether or not Williams approved of Babb’s perspective, the fact remains that there is well established controversy surrounding UNC and Williams. An argument could even be made that UNC should not be participating in the tournament this year. The only reason they are eligible for the tournament is because the NCAA had to place their investigation on hold in light of new findings that UNC self-reported about their women’s basketball team and men’s soccer team. Aaron Beard highlighted these convenient findings in his Associated Press article.

Schools must respond to NOAs within 90 days, which is often when they self-impose penalties. UNC was near its deadline before reporting additional improper assistance from the women’s basketball adviser and possible recruiting violations in men’s soccer.

How convenient for Williams.

Considering that all of this is common knowledge and has been well documented, it was surprising to hear Williams spout his outrage at Babb. Williams didn’t even have to read Babb’s article himself to be outraged. All it took were his friends reading it and reporting back to the coach. Babb’s colleague at The Washington Post, Cindy Boren, offered this follow-up story where Williams’ reaction was documented.

“You know, Dan (Patrick), I’ll try to treat this lightly because I could deal with it much more strongly,” Williams said. “I haven’t read it. Two of my close friends were so mad that if they were to step in front of that guy in the street, it would be a very bad scene because they felt like the guy took — lied. I started to try to say it nicely.

“One of my guys said, ‘I never said anything like that.’ It’s upset all my friends. I haven’t read it, don’t care to read it, never will read it. He’d better step carefully around any of my friends. My high school coach is one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever known in my life and one of my assistants that was with me for 21 years — and they are so mad at that guy.”

The thought of someone like Babb viewing Williams as anything other than the self anointed God he thinks he is offended the coaches’ friends so much that Babb had better hope that the disciples of Williams never cross paths with the writer. And Babb’s blasphemy was so strong that Williams told Babb that he had better step carefully.

You know, if I didn’t know better, i’d swear that this was the Tupac and Biggie feud all over again.

Williams likes to play naive and likes to present himself as a precious snowflake who is as nice as they come. But if you’ve paid attention to Williams over the years, you’d know that he is comfortable using intimidation tactics when he believes he’s been wronged.

Back in 2003, the University of Kansas fired athletic director Al Bohl. Bohl and Williams did not get along and Levi Chronister wrote a story for kusports.com that highlighted the tense relationship between the two men. Bohl believed that Williams was responsible for his firing and that Williams had metaphorically held the athletic director in his hands like a dove and crushed him.

So before Babb writes another article that is critical of Williams, he should ask himself this question: Does he want to be another one of Williams’ doves?

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.


*Featured image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org