The 13 Teams I Root For …
In my 47th year of being a college hoops fan. Began for me at age 14 when we got cable TV in ’65 and Big 5 games were shown on 7 on the dial. Was the time when 8 on the dial didn’t ever show anything ‘cept the big Indian profile … or an American flag … or a bullseye test pattern.
Became ( and remain … so there TJB!! ) a diehard ‘Nova fan in ’67 when Clarence Smith, from my high school and a baseball teammate , went to play there.
Transitioned from pro hoops ( Celtics ) to college hoops in 1971 a watershed year for my love of college hoops because of ‘Nova’s tournament run. Watched and read everything available during that tournament and picked up 2 more teams that I still root for and the start of a 3rd because of a funky name that I knew from St Gabe’s High School in Hazelton ( my birth place ) and recognized when I read about Fordham.
Have gravitated to teams primarily because of their style of play … or something weird like a player’s or coaches name . In some cases have moved from one team to another as the coach moved. Even picked up a team because I thought a coach I liked was now there … was 2 years before I realized it was a different ‘Stormin Norman’ … but didn’t matter because by then I was hooked
Here’s the chronological story of my ‘ 13”
My 1st … and I’ve never left … still have and still watch the 1985 Championship game and a host of others especially those of Kerry Kittles ( my all time favorite college player ) against UConn
1971 Marquette and Kansas … and almost Fordham
Marquette cuz they beat KY who I’ve always hated but can’t remember why
Kansas because of a funky player name( Jo Jo White )
Almost added Fordham ( but didn’t ) because of the coaches funky name … probably because they lost
1973 NC State
Color tv ( a wedding present ) and David Thompson … my gawd could he do things I had never ever seen before … and what great games I got to see … also my 1st ‘Stormin Norman’ coach ( Sloan in this case )
Especially loved Jim Valvano whose name I knew from his time at Bucknell
1974 Notre Dame
ND for 2 reasons … the funky coach’s name ( Digger Phelps ) that I knew from St Gabe’s HS games in Hazelton Pa ( and no longer at Fordham )
And they beat UCLA in one of the greatest basketball games I have ever watched … down 11 with less than 3 mins to go and no shot clock … didn’t hurt that I hated UCLA ;D
The Kamikaze Kids … WOW … talk about full court press defense … saw them play in the NIT … my 1st game at the Garden … had a weird coach … name of Dick Harter ;D
1978 Arkansas and Missouri
Arkansas because of the Triplets ( Moncrief, Delph and Brewer ) and what a magical run to the Final Four … and Eddie Sutton a guy I had followed from Creighton ( who I got hooked on because of Paul Silas in his 1st year as a Celtic )
Mizzou cuz I was watching my 1st ‘Border War” game between them and Kansas and the announcer kept calling the Mizzou coach Stormin Norman … hell I thought it was Norm Sloan the former NC State coach.
Started liking Mizzou and wasn’t for 2 years till I found out it was Stormin Norman Stewart not Sloan
1980 BC and St Johns
Nova joins the Big East … watch a lot games … just loved Dr. Tom Davis and Louie Carnesecca . How could you not like BC and St Johns … a Doctor and a guy in an argyle / plaid sweater for coaches … and what great games there were … seemed like every game you watched was outstanding
1982 Penn State
Puzzling that it took this long given I’m a '73 and odder still is what it took to make me a fan which was the Big East turning Penn State down when they asked to join.
Still not certain which 3 Big East teams voted no but am certain that at least 3 of them did.
Anyway it pissed me off and made me a ‘Nit fan forever and the only team that will make me root against Villanova ( happy now TJB ? )
1st great PSU memory was standing on the endline in Rec hall and not 5 ft away seeing Rashaan Carlton ( from my HS ) hitting the game winner in OT against MSU
Very simple … followed Dr Tom here from BC !!
Loved their style of play and love it now
Was watching ESPN late one night and the announcer started talking about the Zags and their players.
Guys named Richie Frahm, Matt Santangello, Zach Gourde, Axel Dench and Casey Calvary.
As he was saying the names I started laughing so hard tears came to my eyes.
To this day my alltime favorite name team.
And when I finally got watch one of their games and saw the faces with the names I was hooked. 3 of the guys ( Dench, Gourde and Santagello ) looked like they were 30 yrs old and mafia hitman and then you had Frahm who looked a little like a choirboy Hollywood type and then was Casey Calvary who reminded me of Bambi just bouncing all around the court … couldn’t hit the basket from 2 feet ( at that time ) but could just leap out of the gym.
Ross Travis reminds me so much of Calvary … mistake … mistake… clunk … clang and then out of nowhere BOOM a play so spectacular and so athletic that your jaw drops
Of course it didn’t hurt a bit when they made their Elite 8 run thru the tourney that year
There you have it … my 13 teams that I root for and have never left once I started. Been a few that have come and gone. These are my keepers … least for now ;D
Who are yours ?