Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Streak: The Seventeenth Time, Out Of The Last 55 Times, That Clemson Lost A Basketball Game in Chapel Hill…

Castro and Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was still alive.

The Streak: Game 17, January 13, 1961 – North Carolina 77, Clemson 46.

Clemson finished the season 10-16 with victories over Syracuse, The Citadel, Texas, Furman, Davidson, South Carolina (twice), Virginia (twice) and Maryland.  While they were tied for sixth in the ACC with a 5-9 mark, they were clearly the champions of the state of South Carolina.

Clemson was led by Larry "Choppy" Patterson, a master of the two-hand overhead shot. He was voted second-team All-ACC in 1961 and was also a member of the second-team All-ACC Tournament team that year.  During the season, Choppy shot a not-so-choppy 88% from the free throw stripe – 8th best in the NCAA. 

Patterson suffered an injury in an auto accident in 1961 that forced him to miss the 1961-62 season and reduced his effectiveness as a scorer.  That said, he still ranks in the top 25 in five different Clemson categories. He is 24th in points scored (1,131), 9th in best scoring average (14.88), 13th in 20-point games (21), 13th in free throws made (315), and 9th in free throw percentage (0.816).

Patterson would become a lawyer and eventually a judge after serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives. 

The Tar Heels finished the season prematurely with an impressive 19-4 record – 12-2 in the ACC, tied for first.   They would end the year ranked 5th in the AP poll in spite of the fact that NCAA probation kept them out of the ACC tournament which was the only way to qualify for the 24-team Not Very Big Dance.

The NCAA violations, primarily what was then known as “excessive recruiting,” (along with some rumors of point shaving in the Dixie Classic) created an irreparable rift between head coach Frank McGuire and UNC Chancellor William Aycock.   That summer, Aycock sent a letter to McGuire making it clear that the program needed to clean up its act.  McGuire responded by leaving town.  McGuire’s replacement was none other than Dean Smith, his assistant whom he recommended for the job.

Born in New York City as the youngest of thirteen children in an Irish-American family, McGuire graduated from St. John's University in 1936. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, played pro basketball briefly in the American Basketball League and coached and taught before becoming the head coach of St. John’s  basketball and baseball teams

After bringing the baseball team to the College World Series in 1949 and the basketball team to the Final Four in 1952 – becoming one of only three coaches to achieve both accomplishments – he left the Johnnies to become basketball coach at North Carolina. He guided the Tar Heels to the 1957 NCAA title, winning the championship game 54-53 in triple overtime against the Wilt Chamberlain-led Kansas team, and finishing the season with a perfect 32-0 record.

Coincidentally, after he left North Carolina, McGuire became the head coach of the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors and he coached Chamberlain during the Warriors' last season before they moved to San Francisco.  That one season saw Chamberlain set the all-time NBA record for scoring average in a season (50.4 points per game).

Following his brief NBA stint, McGuire returned to college coaching at the University of South Carolina in 1964. The Gamecocks quickly achieved national prominence and went undefeated in the ACC in 1970 and won the ACC tourney in 1971, after which USC would leave the ACC (a bad move to this day), becoming an independent before ultimately joining the S.E.C.

To this day, the Gamecocks’ 1971 tourney win is the only one won by a school based in the state of South Carolina. McGuire would then go on to take USC to the NCAA tournament several times..

McGuire holds the record for most victories in a season without a loss -- 32-0 -- tied with Bobby Knight's 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

He achieved the number one ranking with both the University of North Carolina and South Carolina, and is one of three coaches--Larry Brown and Roy Williams are the others—to take two different schools to the NCAA Finals.

McGuire was famous for using his New York City ties to enlist players to come south to play at UNC and USC, and was known as one of the top recruiters in the sport.  Players he coached or successfully recruited included Lennie Rosenbluth, Larry Brown, Donnie Walsh, Doug Moe, Billy Cunningham, Bobby Cremins, John Roche, Tom Owens, Tom Riker, Kevin Joyce, Brian Winters, Mike Dunleavy, Sr. and Alex English.

McGuire was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, and retired in 1980.

Oh, Hemingway?

He globetrotted around drinking, fishing, hunting, smoking cigars and hanging out with various heads of state.  He took the time to write a few books and short stories before he committed suicide in July of 1961.  You may have heard of some of them – The Sun Also Rises (1927), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) and The Old Man and the Sea (1951), to name a few.

He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

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