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 ForestPretty 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.)
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
* * * * *
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.