Sunday, March 17, 2013

Liveblogging "Survive and Advance"

I'm watching "Survive and Advance," the ESPN documentary on N.C State's run to the basketball title in 1983.  Any observations will go into the comments.

79 comments:

  1. The documentary opens with Cawood Ledford calling the beginning of N.C. State's last possession.

    Man, I miss Cawood Ledford.

    ReplyDelete
  2. All these guys from the 1983 team look really old. How depressing is this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dereck Whittenberg went to DeMatha High School, which is still a great power in the D.C. area. That program was built by Morgan Wooten, whose son coaches at Number2Son's high school.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sidney Lowe also went to DeMatha. I didn't know there was such a DeMatha connection with this team.

    ReplyDelete
  5. NCSU lost Norm Sloan after Sidney Lowe's freshman year. He and Whittenberg begged Morgan Wooten to take the job, but Wooten turned it down.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now we're getting Valvano doing a stand-up routine about what it was like for a New York Italian-American to work in North Carolina. Valvano is by far the funniest man I've ever seen in sports.

    ReplyDelete
  7. They just told my favorite Valvano joke:

    Valvano goes to get a haircut in Raleigh, and the barber says, "I hope you do better than N.C. State's last coach." Valvano says, "The last guy won the national championship." The barber says, "Yeah, but think what Dean Smith could have done with that team."

    I love that joke.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Valvano and the team talk about how they practiced cutting down the nets.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's amazing to think who all was playing college basketball in 1983:

    Michael Jordan
    Sam Perkins
    Hakeem Olajuwan
    Ralph Sampson
    Clyde Drexler
    Patrick Ewing
    Charles Barkley

    And that is a very partial list. The 1983 and 1984 college basketball seasons probably featured the best collection of talent ever in the NCAA.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Now they're talking about that silly three-point line that the ACC used in 1983. The line actually ran inside the top of the key. It was only used in ACC play.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In an early-season game against UVA, Dereck Whittenburg had 27 points in the first half and NCSU had a big lead. But Whittenburg breaks his foot early in the second half, and UVA comes back to win 88-80.

    So now what will happen to the Wolfpack without Dereck Whittenburg?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Now the team is in trouble. Losses at UNC, Wake, Notre Dame. On January 29, 1983, NC State's record was 9-7.

    ReplyDelete
  13. But the team rallies, and they start to win. Then Whittenburg comes back, and they lose to UVA and Maryland.

    Whittenburg is furious. He throws out Valvano and the other coaches and chews out the team. He threatens to fight anyone who's not ready to play.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The former NCSU players, by the way, consistently refer to Valvano as "Coach V."

    ReplyDelete
  15. So now the Wolfpack have finished the season with a record of 17-10. They think they have to win the ACC Tournament to get in.

    ReplyDelete
  16. In the first round of the ACC Tournament between NCSU (17-10) and Wake (17-10), the game is tied at 70 with 3 minutes to go when Wake decides to hold for the last shot. But with 20 seconds left, NCSU steals the ball.

    With 3 seconds to go, Lorenzo Charles is fouled. He misses the first free throw -- but makes the second. NCSU wins 71-70.

    ReplyDelete
  17. In the ACC semi-final, NCSU (18-10) took on UNC. This is a game that NCSU pretty much always loses.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Michael Jordan fouled out of this game. That may be the biggest surprise of the whole documentary.

    At the buzzer, with the game tied, Sam Perkins shoots a 28-footer for the win. It looks good all the way, but bounces out.

    UNC goes up 82-76 with 2:13 left in OT.

    ReplyDelete
  19. NCSU starts fouling. Brad Daugherty misses the front end of the one-and-one.

    NCSU cuts the lead to four.

    NCSU fouls again. UNC misses another one-and-one.

    Whittenburg makes a three-pointer. 82-81.

    UNC misses another one-and-one. NCSU takes the lead, and goes on to win 91-84 in overtime.

    I still don't understand how UNC lost the tournament in 1983.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dean Smith is probably one of the most overrated coaches in sports history, that's how they lost.

      Delete
  20. In the ACC final, NCSU (19-10) takes on Ralph Sampson and UVA (27-3). Whittenburg and Lowe have never beaten Ralph Sampson.

    Dick Vitale and Dick Simpson are calling the game for ESPN. Vitale says UVA is the best team in the country.

    ReplyDelete
  21. With UVA leading 59-51 with 11:26 left, Valvano calls time. He switches to a triangle-and-two, with the two guys guarding Sampson. Dave Odom, who was a UVA assistant at the time, says they had never seen this defense before, and they didn't handle it well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It probably happens a lot, but I don't believe I ever heard of a coach putting both of the "two" in the triangle-and-two on one guy.

      Delete
  22. NCSU comes back to win 81-78. They are in the NCAA Tournament.

    NCSU won the ACC tournament again in 1987, as Valvano coached them to a one-point win over UNC in the final.

    They have never won it since.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Kentucky was a 3-seed in the NCAA's that year. I remember being in despair, because I just didn't think the Wildcats were good at all.

    On the other hand, this was in the days when ESPN would carry all of the opening-round games. And I remember being very excited about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those first years of ESPN coverage of the opening round were amazing. We didn't have cable at the time, so I didn't get to see it. But I was thrilled that such coverage existed and that one day I would get to enjoy it.

      And it turned out to be as fun as I had hoped.

      Delete
  24. For the record, the 1983 NCAA tournament may have been the best one ever played.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best NCAA tournaments that I've seen:

      1. 1983
      2. 1979
      3. 1985
      4. 1992
      5. 1987

      The tournaments in 1981, 1986, 1998, 2008, and 2011 were also very exciting.

      Delete
    2. I would now put the 2014 tournament just ahead of the 1992 tournament on this list.

      Delete
  25. Now we have a clip from SportsCenter in June 1992, when ESPN announced that Jim Valvano had cancer.

    This was one of the saddest sports stories I have ever lived through.

    ReplyDelete
  26. In the first round of the NCAA's, NCSU goes to Corvallis, Oregon to play Pepperdine. They stay in a hotel where Valvano's room has a mirror over the bed.

    Pepperdine is coached by Jim Harrick, who later won the national championship at UCLA.

    In overtime, NCSU trails by six with a minute to go. I was watching this game with my mom, and we were absolutely certain that Pepperdine would win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I spent a couple of nights in Corvallis once. No mirror, however. Nice town.

      Delete
  27. Pepperdine has an 84-percent free throw shooter -- the best free throw shooter in Pepperdine history.

    With the Waves up 59-55 with 25 seconds to go, he misses.

    NCSU makes it 59-57.

    They foul the same guy -- the 84 percent free throw shooter.

    He misses again.

    Whittenburg is fouled. He misses -- but Cozell McQueen gets the rebound and scores. The game is tied at 59. Double overtime.

    My mother and I, who were rooting for Pepperdine, were disgusted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 84-percent free-throw shooter who missed twice ... he came really, really close to throwing in a falling shot at the end of the first overtime after missing the free throws.

      Delete
  28. In double overtime, NCSU beats Pepperdine 69-67.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pepperdine was huge in the early 1980s. 1983 me would've told 2013 me that I was way off if 2013 me had told 1983 me that Gonzaga got the top seed in the West. "You mean Pepperdine, you old fool," 1983 me would've said.

      Delete
    2. That's a good point. 1983 me would have agreed with you.

      Delete
  29. In the round of 32, NCSU takes on UNLV (28-2). UNLV's best player is Sidney Green. Before the game, Green says he is not impressed by Thurl Bailey.

    With 11 1/2 minutes to go, UNLV is up 12.

    ReplyDelete
  30. But then Thurl Bailey leads a huge comeback, and NCSU wins 71-70. The winning basket is scored when Bailey grabs a rebound from Sidney Green and puts in the ball.

    After the game, Dick Stockton asks Valvano whether NCSU is a team of destiny. Valvano says that they might be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be great to listen to a radio program hosted by Thurl Bailey.

      Delete
  31. Thurl Bailey says that Valvano read them letters from NCSU fans who were watching the games -- including one from a woman whose husband, a lifelong Wolfback fan, was in a coma. She had never been a fan, but she started watching the games in the thought that her husband could hear what was happening.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Coach K says that he and Valvano came into the ACC in the same year, and he didn't like Valvano -- he thought Valvano was a braggart. But they became very close, especially during Valvano's illness.

    ReplyDelete
  33. In the Sweet 16, NCSU beats Utah 75-56. But now they're in the Elite Eight against UVA.

    The NCSU guys were so relieved that they had finally beaten Sampson, and that they wouldn't have to play him again. So they were somewhat terrified to face him one more time.

    With 7:56 to go, UVA leads 56-49.

    The West Regional was played at Weber State in Utah.

    ReplyDelete
  34. With 1:10 to go, the game is tied, and UVA is holding for the last shot. With 56 seconds to go, Valvano tells his guys to foul. They do so, and send Othell Wilson to the line.

    Wilson makes the first free throw, but misses the second.

    UVA leads 62-61.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Odom makes a great point here--that, as unconventional of a decision it was to foul in a tie game, even a good shooter like Wilson (74 percent) is likely to make only one of two on such a high-stakes dare.

      Delete
  35. NC State gets the ball to Lorenzo Charles, who is fouled. He is not a good FT shooter.

    He makes them both. NCSU leads 63-62.

    ReplyDelete
  36. On the last play, NCSU's whole team surrounds Ralph Sampson. UVA can't get Sampson the ball, the Wahoos miss their last shot, and NCSU wins the game.

    I remember finding out about this result when we pulled into the parking lot after our trip to the Kentucky Youth Assembly in Lexington. (This was the second game of the day, after UK lost to U of L in overtime in the final of the Mideast Region). I was pretty pleased, because I have always liked NCSU, and because I was angry at Ralph Sampson for not going to UK.

    This was Ralph Sampson's last college game.

    The next year, without Ralph Sampson, UVA made the Final Four.

    ReplyDelete
  37. In the East Regional final, the next day, Georgia stunned UNC 82-77. It was one of the great moments of Hugh Durham's career.

    So instead of playing UNC in the Final Four, NCSU got to play Georgia. They beat the Bulldogs 67-60.

    They are in the final against Houston.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the 1972 NCAA Tournament, Hugh Durham's Florida State team beat Kentucky 73-54 to reach the Final Four. That was the last game Adolph Rupp ever coached.

      Florida State then beat North Carolina 79-75 to reach the final game.

      Then UCLA (which may literally have been the best college team ever that year) beat Florida State 81-76.

      Hugh Durham's last game as the Florida State coach took place in the 1978 Tournament, as his Seminoles lost to UK 85-76.

      Hugh Durham is the only coach ever to take Florida State to the Final Four, and he is the only coach ever to take Georgia to the Final Four. No other coach has such a double.

      Delete
    2. Hugh Durham is a native of Louisville, where he was a three-sport star at Eastern High School.

      Delete
  38. Here was Houston's run through the 1983 Tournament:

    Houston 60, Villanova 50
    Houston 70, Memphis State 63
    Houston 89, Villanova 71
    Houston 94, Louisville 81

    I remember watching Houston's win over Louisville, and thinking that it was the best game I had ever seen.

    Dereck Whittenburg said that the NCSU players all watched the game together, and that they were worried about Olajuwon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, no kidding.

      Olajuwon has to be the most underrated of the celebrated-but-still-not-celebrated-enough athletes of our lives.

      Delete
    2. Benny Anders was on this Houston team. One time when I was down in Ruston, La., covering the Lady Tops at Louisiana Tech, I met some local at the Huddle House who went on and on about Benny Anders-vs.-Karl Malone in high school down there. Said everybody thought both of those guys were going to be as good as Elvin Hayes, who was also from down there.

      Delete
  39. Now they're talking about Valvano's "Don't Ever Give Up" speech at the ESPY's on March 4, 1993.

    In March of 1993, I was pretty much watching ESPN 24/7, so I saw this live. It was probably one of the five most memorable speeches of my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "God gave him words that night to give to us."

      That's pretty.

      Delete
  40. They put up a column from Dave Kindred in 1983 saying that NCSU has no chance against Houston.

    They show Valvano's press conference before the game. He says that if NCSU gets the opening tap, they might not take a shot until Tuesday morning.

    But Lowe and Whittenburg say that Valvano told his team that they would not hold the ball. They all say that the speech Valvano gave before the game was just incredible.

    ReplyDelete
  41. NCSU comes out very pumped up, but they can't make a shot. On the other hand, Drexler gets into foul trouble -- he had 4 fouls in the first half -- and NCSU eventually leads 33-25 at the half.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fourth foul call on Drexler was jive.

      Delete
  42. Houston opened up the second half with a 10-0 run to take a 35-33 lead. Soon afterward, Houston was up 42-35 with 10:05 left.

    But this game was played in Albaquerque, at altitude, so Olajuwon was exhausted. Houston tries to stall.

    On the radio, Cawood says that the stall is "not Houston's games." He's right. NCSU comes back and ties the game at 52 with 1:20 to go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, Cawood actually said that the stall is "not Houston's game." I'm sorry for the typo.

      I miss Cawood all the time.

      Delete
  43. With 1:05 left, NCSU fouls Alvin Franklin, a freshman. Whittenburg says this was the strategy.

    Franklin misses. NCSU gets the ball and calls time with 44 seconds to go.

    Watching at home, I was furious with Houston's coach (Guy Lewis) for going into the stall. I thought Houston was the best team in the country, and I wanted them to win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, here's where sports-history journalism really bothers me. If you're going to let Whittenburg lay out Franklin like this, you've got to give Franklin a fair shot to talk, too--even all of these years later, even though the story is really not about him. Now maybe the filmmaker did give Franklin the opportunity to talk in the movie, but, if so and Franklin declined, then he should indicate as much. I think, anyhow.

      I love those new NFL Films movies about the Super Bowls. They are fantastic. But one thing I hate is how they don't give the villains equal time. Bart Starr just totally clobbers this one ex-teammate in the one for Super Bowl I or II, and the guy gets no rebuttal. I think that stinks.

      Delete
  44. Gary Bender and Billy Packer were calling the game for CBS.

    NCSU is planning to hold for the last shot, but they thought Houston would be in a man-to-man.

    Instead, Houston is in a trapping zone, and NCSU is all screwed up.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Bailey is trapped in the corner, and throws it way out to Whittenburg out close to half court. Billy Anders almost steals the ball for Houston, but Whittenburg was taught to catch with two hands, so he hangs on.

    Terry Gannon is open, but Whittenburg never looks to pass. Instead, he takes a 30-foot shot. The shot is online, but it will fall short. Everyone, including Olajuwon, just watches the ball -- except for Lorenzo Charles, who jumps up, grabs the ball, and dunks it for the win.

    I have rarely, if ever, been more surprised while watching a sports event.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olajuwon says that once he saw that the shot was going to fall short he decided to stay on the floor because he was afraid of being called for a foul or goaltending.

      Delete
  46. Whittenburg says that everyone thought it was a miracle, but he points out that Valvano had told them years before that they would win the national championship. They had even practiced cutting down the nets.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Of course, Valvano's career eventually ended with an NCAA investigation. Coach K and NCAA investigator both say that Valvano got a bad deal, but he was forced to resign anyway.

    NCSU's program has never recovered.

    ReplyDelete
  48. In February 1993, only a few months before Valvano died, NCSU hosted a 10-year reunion for the 1983 team. The players didn't think Valvano would appear -- both because of his health and because of how his career at NCSU ended -- but he did.

    The players are in tears as they tell this story.

    ReplyDelete
  49. At the 1993 reunion, Valvano gave the NCSU a brief version of the "Don't Ever Give Up" speech. He says: "Never stop believing and loving, and you can accomplish miracles."

    On the film, everyone at Reynolds Coliseum is crying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reynolds is a great, great gym. My wife and I spent her 2008 birthday there, watching Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) campaign for president.

      Delete
  50. The documentary concludes with two facts:

    1. Sports Illustrated concluded that the 1983 N.C. State victory was the greatest college basketball moment in the 20th Century.

    2. The V Foundation has raised over $100 million to fight cancer.

    ReplyDelete
  51. That was fantastic--thanks, Go Heath.

    ReplyDelete
  52. My Lord, this movie is fantastic.

    ReplyDelete