Friday, November 13, 2009

CAA Action -- It's . . . not bad

Well, good friends, it's that time of year again. It's time for the cagers to reach for that initial tip, whatever that means. It's November -- turkey time in America, and for a generation or two there have been few bigger turkeys than the College of William & Mary's men's basketball program. The last few years, however, have been a period of aberration, the occasional blip on the radar when the Tribe men's hoops program emerges from the muck and reaches plateaus of competence, even aptitude. Okay, it was one very good year in 2008, and then last year they were back to 10-20 and suck a-plenty.

Tonight kicks off the 2009-10 season for the green and gold, and what better way to do it than with a patty-cake opponent like . . . UConn? Really? Well, it's Friday the 13th, so maybe anything can happen. (It can't.)

But this nearly-annual Tribe futility has only been happening since the early 80's. In 1983, the first year of the Colonial Athletic Association (though it was still called the ECAC South for two years), the William & Mary Indians swept the regular season and . . . lost in the championship tourney final. Unfortunately, William & Mary men's hoops would find itself in the same company as Kajagoogoo, SMU, Richard Chamberlain, Vanessa Williams, Ralph Sampson, UVA men's basketball, "Remington Steele," Sally Ride, the USFL, "Manimal," the DeLorean, and Dexy's Midnight Runners: the successes of 1983 would be fleeting and followed by a quick, long slide downhill into the abyss.

Long before then, however, the College of William & Mary in Virginia was something of a basketball factory. Okay, well, the College could at least compete -- to wit, the all-time NCAA single-game rebound champion is Bill Chambers, William & Mary Indian. Chambers had 53 rebounds on Valentine's Day, 1953. (It's rumored he nailed his ex-girlfriend's sister that night for #54.) This feat has always been a conversation piece for W&M students and alums; if you're at all familiar with Tribe athletics, you know Bill Chambers' claim to fame.

But it raised a question for me: why do we all know his name, but very, very few of us know Jeff Cohen's? Cohen's career mark of 2000 pts/1500 rebs is far more impressive than a one-night performance . . . Is it because Chambers later coached at his alma mater (presumably inflating his own legend by making sure the undergrads knew of the feat)? Is it because he did it against UVA? I don't know. I think it comes down to two things: (1) William & Mary athletes are so very rarely #1 in anything ("Thriller" does NOT count), and (2) no matter how stat-geeky the College's grads are, they still can be wooed by one night of (probably contrived) glory.

Here's the thing, though: Jeff Cohen deserves his due. I just looked this up, and here are every one of the players with 2,000 points and 1,500 boards in their NCAA careers:
Tim Duncan, Wake Forest
Malik Rose, Drexel
Derrick Coleman, Syracuse
Ralph Sampson, UVA
Elvin Hayes, Houston
Jeff Cohen, your College of William & Mary Indians
Elgin Baylor, Seattle
Joe Holup, GWU
Dickie Hemric, Wake Forest
Tom Gola, LaSalle
Pretty amazing company. (Joe Holup's name evokes chills, yes.) I know the pre-1973 game was different -- someone smarter than I can explain how -- but they didn't asterisk Roger Maris for having 8 more games. And like I alluded to, Top 10 in anything for the Tribesters is huge. Jeff Cohen should be a household name. (A W&M fraternity household, that is.)

* * * * *

Did You Know???
Chuck Swenson, who coached the Tribe from 1987-1994, holds the record for lowest career winning percentage for W&M coaches (.316) since Samuel Hubbard went 4-9 in the peach basket era (1916-1917). His in-conference work was even worse; his 27-71 (.275) mark is unfathomable in modern college sports, perhaps the DiMaggio 56-untouchable record of Tribe basketball. Swenson, like G:TB founder Rob, stands about 5'3". I'm just saying.

Surprisingly, however, Tony Shaver, whom we all seem to continually appreciate at the helm, is in the conversation. His Tribe teams are 65-113 (.367) overall, 33-76 (.302) in-conference. He's one cellar-dwelling year before it's neck-and-neck for the all-time dishonor. Let's hope against hope that it doesn't happen.

* * * * *

Did You Know??? Part 2
Hubie Brown was an assistant coach at William & Mary in 1968. Yep, Hubie Brown.


TR said...

Why does Remington Steele need quotes aound it? That show stands up to the test of time any way you look at it.

And by "stand up to the test of time," I mean "does not stand up to the test of time."

Geoff said...

It marks the end of the Zimbalist family's dominance over Hollywood, if nothing else.

Whitney said...

And with it, the end of people pretending Efrem is a name. I see your P'Allen and I raise you one old school Efrem.

Whitney said...

TR, it's standard practice to italicize films and put quotes around television shows. It's tangible evidence of a mostly intangible phenomenon of Hollywood's lack of respect for the small screen.

And I gave my wife the first season of "Remington Steele" on DVD a few years back. You are correct in your assessment of its timelessness. It's . . . timeful?

TJ said...

So, strong game from Jay Cutler last night, eh?

And lucky me, it appears 10,000 Philadelphia d-bags have arrived in San Diego for Sunday's Chargers/Eagles tilt.

TR said...

Teej - You need to watch the Sanchise in action more before you claim Cutler's thrown the worst interceptions you've ever seen.

Shlara said...

I worked in Sports Information in college and didn't know about Hubie Brown. That's awesome.

Dan said...

no mention of "The Purpetrator" heh? - the first, and presumably last player ever to tear his ACL getting off the bench to check into the game...

Michael said...

please don't mention Cutler. just terrible. terrible. singlehandedly lost a game. you can't say that about a football game very often. but he was the worst.

in gambling news, that marked another win for a home favorite covering the spread that lost outright as a home favorite the previous week. covering about 90% of the time when that happens. of course, I couldn't bring myself to bet against the Bears, but advised others to do so.

Whitney said...

Does the Redskins' 1st half of the season comprise most of the 10%? Finally the oddsmakers have figured out that the Skins should not be favorites ever, but it seemed to take a while.

Whitney said...

And Dan, that's good recall on you, but I didn't have time to detail all the Tribe men's hoops program's most embarrassing moments. Would've taken hours and hours.

Geoff said...

Swint, remember when I picked the Bears to go 8-8 and you told me I was an idiot and that they'd be much better this year because of Cutler? That was awesome.

Dan said...

thank you.
not surprisingly, that is the lone memory i have of anything related to w&m hoops.

Dan said...

my gambling tip of wkd - Pitt -7 vs ND...PITT

Mark said...

Take the points and Mississippi State in Starkville against Bama on Saturday night.