Basketball Legends Revealed #3

This is the third in a series of examinations of basketball-related legends and whether they are true or false.

Special theme week!

All legends involving National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball!

Let’s begin!

BASKETBALL LEGEND: A NCAA game once ended with a team playing 1-on-5!

STATUS: True

In 1982, two small colleges got together to play a basketball game.

It was the Knights of West Coast Christian College (which closed its doors in 1992) versus the Sea Lions of University of California: Santa Cruz (who have since changed the name of their team to the Slugs…

)

The Knights were a bit short-manned for the game, having only 8 players available to play.

Well, early on, foul trouble plagued the Knights and they lost three players to fouls (you can only commit 4 fouls during a game – the fifth foul results in your removal from the game, you have “fouled out”).

Later on in the game, another player fouled out, so the Knights had to play 4 on 5, and yet were still leading the Sea Lions!

However, a string of fouls towards the end of the game resulted in SEVEN of the eight remaining Knights to foul out of the game with just over two minutes left to play!

All that was left was guard Mike Lockhart!

The NCAA rules at the time stated that a game could continue 1 on 5 under certain circumstances, including if the team with the 1 player was leading at the time (which the Knights were, 70-57).

There were two major drawbacks – one, Lockhart himself had four fouls, so a fifth foul would end the game in a loss for his team, two, it is pretty difficult to inbound the ball if you don’t have anyone to inbound the ball TO!

The first problem was dealt with by Lockhart just being very careful, the latter was solved by Lockhart just bouncing the ball off of the legs of the Sea Lion players, then collecting the ricochet (if he could).

Shockingly, Lockhart went on to hold off the Sea Lions, who actually ended up being forced to foul Lockhart towards the end of the game, in which he proceeded to hit 5 out of 6 free throws to lead the Knights to a 75-67 victory!

Pretty cool, no?

No wonder the story has been picked up frequently over the years by Christian ministries looking for inspirational stories!

BASKETBALL LEGEND: Everett Case created the ACC Tournament.

STATUS: False Enough That I’m Going With False

Everett Case was best known for being the head coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack from 1946 until 1964.

One of the great coaches of his day, Case was also a great salesman for the sport of college basketball, as he helped drive the popularity of the sport in the South.

Originally, North Carolina State was part of the Southern Conference, along with the other great Southern basketball squads like North Carolina, Duke and Maryland.

However, the Southern Conference was very much a football conference at the time (although Case was doing his best to change that in North Carolina), and it was football that led to the formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

You see, going into the 1951 season, people were beginning to almost “fear” college bowl games, mostly because there was so much money wrapped up in a team going to a bowl game that they would do anything they could to get there, including rigging their schedule so that they would not have to face the best competition. And since the Southern Conference had an unwieldy 17 teams in it, there was no good way to pick who was the “champion” of the conference. So the Southern Conference decided to ban teams from playing in bowl games, hoping that this would curtail any sketchy behavior. Naturally, colleges disagreed with this idea, and Marylan and Clemson both received and ACCEPTED invitations to play in bowl games in 1952.

They were suspended by the Southern Conference, but that just drove Maryland, Clemson and six other schools (including Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State) to leave and form their own conference that would allow bowl games – the ACC.

It was here that Everett Case came up with an idea that was quite controversial for a few decades – while the ACC college football teams would decide a champion via polls, the ACC college basketball teams would decide via a round-robin, single-elimination tournament. So you could go 24-0 during the regular season, but if you lost in the ACC tournament, you were NOT the ACC champion – the team that won the tournament was, even if they were 11-13.

So that is an innovation that is clearly Case’s, and it was that innovation that helped drive the early interest in the ACC tournaments (which soon expanded into television, as well). However, it is often said that Case INVENTED the ACC tournament, or that he CREATED the ACC tournament. I just don’t find that accurate.

Due to its size, the Southern Conference had been doing tournaments for years (since 1922).

It is pretty clear that “all” Case did (the quotes are because it IS significant) was to adapt the Southern Conference tournament with his “winner takes all” idea.

That was most likely a great idea and led to significant interest in the ACC (that continues to this day), but it does not count as “creating the ACC tournament,” I don’t think.

Amusingly enough, one tournament Case DID create was the “Dixie Classic,” a yearly basketball tournament (hosted at North Carolina State’s stadium, naturally) made up of the four North Carolina members of the Southern Conference (then later, the ACC) – NC State, North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest.

The tournament ceased being held after about a dozen years – the reason?

A point shaving scandal.

Perhaps the Southern Conference knew what they were talking about when they were worried about the morals of college sports (do note that NC State was also suspended for a number of years in the late 1950s when it was alleged that Case had paid a high school recruit)….

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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