Friday, September 17, 2010


Friends ---

As promised let me begin chipping away at the many great questions you’ve asked. Again --- thank you in advance for being patient as I do this.

I’ll start with a question from Kevin who asks:

“As an Iowa fan you and Pembrook Burrows broke my heart. Do you have any recollections about that game that won't make a middle-aged man cry?”

Well, Kevin --- I was almost the one crying during that game. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

The March 12, 1970 NCAA tournament game between my school, Jacksonville University, and Iowa, was sandwiched in between two other great games. On March 7 our JU Dolphins played its first-ever nationally televised game in Dayton, Ohio against Western Kentucky. We won 109-96 and I was fortunate enough to have a 30-point, 19-rebound game. My team mate Rex Morgan added 24 more points. On March 9 we faced Kentucky in what is one of the single most memorable wins of my career. Kentucky: number one in the nation. Kentucky: a legendary basketball powerhouse. Kentucky: coached by Adolph Rupp. But that’s a story for another day.

In between those games we went up against Iowa in Columbus, Ohio, and our NCAA bid almost ended right then and there.

First: my team mate Vaughn Wedeking was sick as a dog with the flu.

Second: Rex Morgan had an ear infection.

Third: I got a bit too aggressive on defense and fouled out with a full eight minutes left in the game.

A tip-in by Pembrook Burrows off a missed shot by Vaughn gave us a squeaker over Iowa by 104-103 in the last second. Pembrook also made 11 or 12 field goal attempts in that game for a total of 23 points.

Rex Morgan takes every opportunity, even now, to remind me that I almost cost the team the game by fouling out at a crucial moment. He's fond of recalling how I sat on the bench trying to coach Pembrook. According to Rex I said: “Pembrook, listen man, you really have to make this thing happen.” To which Pembrook turned and replied, “I guess so, man, you're sitting on the bench!”

I've posted on this blog entry a couple photos of Pembrook and me from back in the day.

So that, Kevin --- is my Iowa story. I’ll add, just as a matter of trivia --- I almost went to school in Iowa. After my second year at Gardner-Webb junior college I was honored by interest from many schools. I visited Iowa, and I had a chance to spend some time out there it was pretty good program. However, in 1969 JU became my ultimate choice because it was closer to home. My parents were getting older, so it gave me an opportunity to be near them, as well as my younger brothers and sisters.