Monday, February 27, 2017

The Freakin' Weekend (1971)

After "Kentucky, February 27, 1971," I'm probably going to have a new No. 1, but here's my Jet Soul Brothers Top 20 this (freakin') weekend 1971:

Meanwhile, way down in Bowling Green on Feb. 27, 1971, ...

I'm looking forward to a happier trip than a couple of weeks ago to Murray ...

Hooray for TV ...

Less than a year now to Sapporo 1972 ...

I can't imagine how excited I would be if two guys from Muhlenberg County came on TV and opened a whole show reaching millions of homes with a song they wrote about Bowling Green! But that's exactly what happened Feb. 28, 1971, with the Everly Brothers' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and it must've been just an absolutely thrilling moment for 8-year-old Ray Harper!

And I wonder if he watched the NBA game earlier that afternoon, too.

By the way, it's district-tournament time around Kentucky ...

Per the Tilghman Bell ...


  1. After Western lost at Murray, 73-71, back on Jan. 23, Tom Patterson in WKU's College Heights Herald called Murray's gym, "the last of the great lion's dens." The story is accompanied by great Paul Schumann photographs of crying Hilltoppers cheerleaders and raucous Racer fans carrying one of the players on their shoulders.

  2. That made it two losses in a row for the Tops, which had previously lost by 15 at La Salle. WKU was 9-3, and, when the next Associated Press poll came out, the Hilltoppers were down to 12th. They had gotten as high as fifth, when they opened the season 5-0, including victories over No. 4 Jacksonville and No. 19 Saint John's (at Madison Square Garden).

  3. The victory over WKU got Murray State into the AP poll, at No. 19. The Racers reeled off four more wins, advanced to 17th in the poll and led the OVC at mid February.

    This is probably when Cal Luther is at the height of his powers in Murray. It's his 12th year as men's basketball coach, and now he's athletics director, too. He has gotten the Racers to the NCAA tournament twice (the only two times in program history), and he has twice won OVC coach of the year. From November 1968 into February 1970, his teams won 27 straight games at Racer Arena. And one of his former Racers, 6-foot-10 Dick Cunningham, is Lew Alcindor's backup with the Milwaukee Bucks. After this season, the University of Minnesota is going to hire Cal Luther as its basketball coach, but Luther is going to back out of the deal and stay in Calloway County. So Cal Luther's a beloved figure in Murray, and early 1971 is when he's becoming pretty darned beloved.

  4. Murray had lost at East Tennessee State's J. Madison Brooks Gymnasium by 66-65 early in the season; Western's only OVC loss was the two-pointer at Racer Gym. So, as of Feb. 15, here were the OVC standings ...

    Murray State 8-1
    Western Kentucky 8-1
    East Tennessee State 7-3
    Eastern Kentucky 4-3
    Tennessee Tech 3-6
    Austin Peay State 3-6
    Middle Tennessee State 2-7
    Morehead State 0-8

  5. The OVC is playing its games on Mondays and Saturdays at this time (maybe they still do; I don't know). On Monday, Feb. 15, Western clobbers good East Tennessee State, 83-65, at Diddle Arena, while Murray is edged, 82-81, at good Eastern Kentucky, in Richmond's McBrayer Arena. Then, on Saturday, Feb. 20, WKU goes to cellar-dwelling Morehead State and blasts the Eagles by 89-70. For some reason, Murray State had to go all the way back out to Johnson City again and play East Tennessee State in Brooks Gym. I have no idea why; there ought to be an investigation. But, whatever, it wasn't close: 80-65, Buccaneers.

  6. And that pretty much does it for the ol' OVC race of 1970-71. Here are the standings as of Monday, Feb. 22:

    Western 10-1
    Murray 8-3
    East Tennessee 8-4
    Eastern 6-3
    Austin Peay 3-7
    Tennessee Tech 3-7
    Middle Tennessee 3-8
    Morehead State 1-9

  7. Except there's the little matter of EKU, which is still mathematically in play for the conference title and lone NCAA-tournament berth. The Colonels hosted the Tops on Feb. 22, and it must've been some Monday night at Paul McBrayer Arena: 94-93, Tops, in overtime.

  8. Seriously, if I get to go to heaven, I hope I get to drive to all of these key OVC games around Kentucky in 1970-71.

  9. Eastern's coach at the time apparently went about his work with the ferocity one might imagine of a person named "Guy R. Strong," who was born in Estill County in 1930, who excelled in three sports at Irvine High School in the 1940s (including as quarterback of the football team) and who played some guard for UK's 1950-51 national-championship team after being one of five players who won some kind of Survivor-ish, two-day tryout for Adolph Rupp.

    Strong had come to Eastern after coaching Kentucky Wesleyan to its first national championship. He had a history at Eastern, having transferred there after playing two years for Rupp.

  10. Well, with 1:47 yet to play in the first half (!) of Western’s game at Eastern, Coach Strong was whistled for his third technical foul and ejected. Tom Patterson reported in Western’s College Heights Herald that it was the first time in OVC history (dating back to 1948) that a coach was a ejected from a league game.

  11. Patterson reported that Strong took issue with the officiating after an Eastern game in Diddle Arena during the 1969-70 season, quoting the coach as saying that Western “could beat UCLA with the type of officiating it has down here.”

  12. McBrayer (capacity 8,000) was, of course, packed for Western's game this season, and, to the Richmond faithful's delight, Eastern spurted to a 30-18 lead with 8:24 to go in the first half. But the Tops scraped back. Strong's second and third technicals came in the wake of a Jim McDaniels free-throw tip-in, and then Western took a 45-44 lead at the half on a buzzer-beating jumpshot.

  13. Patterson reported that, after he was ejected, Strong continued to advise his team from a spot behind a doorway not far from the Eastern bench. Again, the Colonels surged, this time to an eight-point advantage. But, again, the Tops closed and finally drew even on a McDaniels free throw with 15 seconds remaining in regulation. "Big Mac" would finish with 41 points and 19 rebounds.

  14. Things looked dire, however, when McDaniels fouled out with about three minutes to go in overtime. And Eastern led by a point as the clock ticked inside 10 seconds and the ball found its way to Western junior guard Danny Johnson on the perimeter.

    Now, look, I've been reading stuff about Western's 1971 team for about 30 years. I'm pretty sure I'd never heard of Danny Johnson until reading Tom Patterson's coverage of this game in the Herald.

  15. Patterson quoted Johnson as saying he had received the ball in about the same position four other times in the game and thrown the ball away on three of those occasions. This time, he fired--from 20 feet--and made with six seconds to go. (It was Johnson's only two points of the game.) Eastern missed a heave as the game ended, and Western won, 94-93.

  16. So then Murray came to Bowling Green for the Feb. 27 Racers-Hilltoppers rematch (but without two injured starters, including Les Taylor, who would be the OVC's player of the year the next two seasons). Coach Johnny Oldham opened with a man-to-man defense (after playing zone in Murray); the Tops held Murray scoreless for the game's first five minutes and forced 26 turnovers. McDaniels had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Western won, 73-59, to clinch the OVC championship.

    Patterson wrote in the Herald that he got home late Saturday night after the WKU win and hoped to watch an old Clark Gable/Maureen O'Hara movie on TV--but instead found a replay of the basketball game. “Believe me, it was even better the second time around.

    “I pulled out my play-by-play sheet (members of the press are furnished with these after each ahlf) and anxiously awaited every basket, especially the dunk, which is seldom seen nowadays and quickly draws a technical whenever it happens. But man, it was great! It was like watching a play and having the script in front of you.”

    Patterson wrote that the crowd of 14,227 qualified as the largest to ever watch a basketball game at a Kentucky college.

  17. On March 1, the Tops finished their regular season in Clarksville, Tennessee, with a 96-94 loss to Austin Peay, leaving the final OVC standings ...

    Western Kentucky 12-2 (24-6 overall)
    Murray State 10-4 (19-5)
    Eastern Kentucky 10-4 (16-8)
    East Tennessee State 8-6 (12-12)
    Austin Peay 5-9 (10-14)
    Morehead State 4-10 (8-17)
    Tennessee Tech 4-10 (7-17)
    Middle Tennessee 3-11 (11-15)

    In the March 2 AP poll, WKU was ranked seventh.

  18. By the way, Hoptown 1971 me had such a fun time on my trip to Bowling Green for the big win over Murray that I turned around and came back for David Brinkley's talk March 2 and/or the Neil Diamond show March 4. (Albert Brooks opened the concert.)

    I'm pretty sure I ate at Jerry's. I probably got the country-fried steak with pan gravy (“tender cuts of beef, pan braised with savory seasonings to a delicate tenderness,” $1.65), with “tangy cole slaw,” baked potato and stewed tomatoes.

  19. That Everly Brothers clip from the Feb. 28, 1971, Ed Sullivan appears to have disappeared from the Ether. But George Carlin's spot on the same show is on YouTube, and, oh, my word, it's razor sharp.