Tuesday, January 12, 2016

THE GREATEST GAME IN THE WORLD - PART 3

This post is a continuation of the Greatest Game Series, so you may want to go back and read Part 1, Part 2, and The First Runner-Up posts.  Or you may not.....

Part 2 concluded with the Glory Days of New Paris High School basketball, 1962 - 1964.  The stars of our team went on to play ball at small colleges such as Manchester [IN] and McPherson [KS].  I 'chose' [that's another story] to attend Goshen College [IN] as did teammate Dennis Caprarotta.  As the fall semester got underway, we looked forward to the Junior Varsity tryouts, thinking that we would have a pretty good shot at making the team.  It didn't turn out that way -  primarily because it was not truly a basketball tryout but rather a supposed basketball skills tryout.  Apparently the JV coaches thought that they could determine the best basketball players by assessing who could quickly dribble around chairs, jump the highest, and dance rapidly through a hop-scotch-like drill.

http://upl.stack.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Chair-Dribble-Drill.jpg


http://grants.hhp.coe.uh.edu/doconnor/PEP6305/Vertical.jpg


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Hardly any attention was given to actual basketball skills such as shooting, passing, playing good defense, working as a unit, or what a lot of us would call "basketball IQ."  Since I am quick but not fast and not a great leaper, I was cut.  Denny also did not make the team, although he was seriously hampered by his bum knees.

Thus, my basketball at Goshen College was as part of the intramural leagues and an occasional dorm-versus-dorm tournament.  For the intramural competition, the incoming class received a colored jersey that matched that of the last graduating class - clever.  We had green jerseys that we the used throughout our four years at GC.  I believe the other classes were yellow, red and blue.  Also, since there were many students interested in playing, each class had an A team, B team, C team and sometimes a D team, all playing in their own division, e.g. senior A's versus freshman A's, etc. A few times there would be two class teams in one league - we had two A teams one year.  Not quite sure how the teams were divvied up - might have been the intercollegiate coaches and players that grouped the intramural players.  It was also possible to move up or down if needed.  I think that I ended up playing at the A level for all four years at Goshen - trying to remember if I had to buy a new green shirt or if the original survived!

http://www.jerseyfactory.com/images/products/BR1302_210.gif

Kelly Green Was Our Color!

Most of our games were on week nights, which of course gave us a good excuse not to study.  Our referees generally were fellows who had made the JV and Varsity teams - some were good at it, some not so much.  I recollect Art Mullet, Keith Springer and Larry Mann reffed a lot of games and were relatively good.  We pretty much held our own during our freshman year, and by the time we were seniors, we were regular winners.  The best wins were against the faculty team - we tried to make the coaches who were playing on the faculty team sorry that they had not chosen us for the intercollegiate team!  I believe that I regularly volunteered to guard Coach Ingold.  Another highlight of our games is that a few attractive co-eds would come to watch us play - Rhonda Lou Willems was the foxiest of the group :-)  We had some pretty decent players including roommates John Riegsecker and Marlin Nofziger and other classmates Ken Willems, Mike Hostetler, Dorrance Mosier, Dallas Rychener, Don Steiner, Don Graber, Ron Gingerich, and ______ Stuckey. 

Another good time of playing ball was during the spring semester, after the intercollegiate season was over, when dorm floors and houses would face off against each other in a tournament.  The teams that had varsity or junior varsity players were often the winners, but our group of nobodies from Howell House in our senior year had a great tournament, even if I didn't help out too much during our biggest win.  Among our nobodies were John Riegsecker, Marlin Nofziger, Ken Willems, and Henry Bowman. We were playing a team that had several intercollegiate players and we were holding our own during the first half. The bad news was that it seemed that at least one of the two referees had it out for our team, and me in particular - the two - future brother-in-law Arnie Willems and the infamous Robert "Bob" Frey, who should have been named Richard "Dick".  "Dick" was all over me, and even warned me after one foul when I must have muttered something, that I "should not take the name of his Lord in vain."  I got five fouls and headed for the showers before half time.  I remember banging the metal doors at the end of the gym so hard that Rhonda followed me out.  Arnie give his brother Ken a technical foul for placing the ball of the floor after a foul rather than handing it to him.  Despite Frey's efforts to shut us down, our gang held on through the second half, and the game came down to some crucial free throws awarded to Jack Erb, who was probably our least proficient player.  Jack sank them both and we went on to the win!!!  Our 50th year class anniversary will be coming up in 2018 and I am pretty sure that I will still be pissed about the refs!  We played a team with 3 or 4 varsity players including big fellows Keith Springer, Mo Miller and George Liechty for the Championship and we barely lost out.



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Another basketball venue during our college years was summer time night games at Rogers Park.  Often we would work all day and then head to the park after supper, and sometimes play until one or two in the morning.  A favorite break was to the local A&W Root Beer stand where you could get a quart of root beer in a cardboard container shaped like a small megaphone [oxymoron!!]

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I should mention that during my high school and college playing days, I turned my ankles so many times, often quite dramatically, that my ankles are permanently over-sized, filled with scar tissue.  The good news is that the scar tissue is so strong that I rarely turn my ankles any more!  Thus with graduation in the spring of 1968, my official b-ball days at GC ended, but as will be noted in a later entry in this series, I returned numerous times to play on campus.

22 comments:

Ken Willems said...

I remembered Mo because I also remember getting the ball in the low post, faking, then putting in a left handed hook shot. Arn remembers this also. We've talked about it several times.

John Riegsecker said...

I still have my original Kelly Green shirt. I'm surprised you didn't mention how I blocked a Keith Springer shot. :-)

DES said...

JR - are you certain that you are not having a false memory about the blocked shot? Just kidding because I do believe that I recollect that great moment in the tournament! In front of a decent crowd as I remember. And - I am not surprised that you still have your green shirt..... :-)

Ken Willems said...

Now that Riegsecker mentions it, I think I do remember his block of a Springer shot.

DES said...

And for those of you not familiar with the names above, as I remember, Keith Springer is about 6'4" or 6'5" and Riegsecker was about 6'1" - but has no doubt shrunk since then!

Anonymous said...

Plus, Springer could JUMP! Riegsecker, maybe not?

DES said...

Ha! That's kinda harsh Anonymous....I am sure that I have seen Riegsecker at least 4 or 5 inches off of the ground!

John Riegsecker said...

Hmm, I see it's good I came back here to defend my honor. I was 6' in the day, but when I take my medical exam they seem to think I'm now 5' 11". Back in the day of Mennonlink, there was a prof at Wartburg College I believe, who recalled (unprompted by me) that block on Keith. If there is such a thing as a searchable Mennonlink archive you can check it out.

Doug said...

Not to worry John - I well remember that throughout our b-ball days at GC you performed admirably as our 'big man.' Position and smarts go a long way with rebounding and defense.

Ken Willems said...

I think Springer, Mo, George, and another varsity player were on the team that beat us in the final. But, it all kind of runs together. I think it was about 10 points.

hoosierdaddy said...

Ahhhh - the older we get, the better we were!!!

Arnie Willems said...

Let's see, Doug fouled out early in the semi-final game, during the first half, with Howell House behind, yet his team won. He played the entire championship game, but Howell House lost convincingly. Does anyone see a pattern here?

DES said...

Oooooh - harsh! :-) At least I am still playing and as far as I know, Arnie is not reffing!

Arnie Willems said...

Yes, Doug. It is sad but true, sad that your're working on your game, but true that I'm no longer reffing. However, I have passed on my officiating genes to son David.

Ken Willems said...

What ever became of the other reff? By the way I'm in Goshen and drove past the old battleground this morning. THE BIG GAME came to mind again.

DES said...

Ken - here is something I found on Frey, 2008:

http://www.goshennews.com/community/anniversary/frey-th/article_3e9165a6-9dbc-5fd4-bd5e-4f68b26eb7a5.html

Ken Willems said...

You know, things like this are some of my favorite GC memories. I guess that means I wasn't much of a student.

DES said...

Totally agree Ken; I believe that you and I were both "solid C+" students at GC! During my four years, I think that there were 2 or 3 academic classes that I enjoyed, and my finest classes were the required PE courses :-) John R was much more of a student because I remember when he plastered a very low test score beside his bed to motivate him to get up and get going - seems like it was a 16 or so in a chem course that math majors were required to take. John can correct if he wants.

mike host said...

Basketball? Loved playing. Kept me out of trouble in high school and college. As I remember intramural basketball (and church league) my job and Steiner's job was to hit people. Kinda football but with shorts. John, I do remember you were always outsized by other centers but still did well. Doug asked me about a guy who played at Rogers Park and could dunk at only six foot. He never made the team at Goshen High. HIs name was Theron Taylor. I think he was two years older than me, and a great guy. By the way, I think he as only 5'11''. Best player I ever tried to guard: Mike Warren from SB Central, who went on to star at UCLA. I had no chance against him, but he was another nice guy. I got to talk with John Wooden about him one year before the Coach passed away. Ah, basketball for Hoosiers never dies.
Mike Hostetler

DES said...

Hey Mike - thanks for your comments and for jogging the memory about Theron Taylor. I remember that he could take a one step leap and dunk two-handed. And about Mike Warren - I had to think of his backcourt team mate, Jimmy Ward, who was also a gifted, scoring guard. Warren went on to success at UCLA and beyond and I believe Jimmy Ward was gunned down robbing a house.

John Riegsecker said...

Doug, as for me being a good student, it took me 3 semesters to figure out that you had to study, something I suspect none of us ever did in high school. I think the class you are talking about was physical chemistry, and I took it because I wanted to learn how mathematics was used in science. Turned out they would mostly say, "Take the first two terms of the power series ..." and the justification was generally that "it worked." Henry Weaver was the prof and he was quite a character.

Mike. You play B-ball with the team you have, not the team you might want or wish to have at a later time. There was a kid at GC who was only about 5' 9' I believe who really had good hops -- I think he could dunk. He was one or two classes behind us and I'm not coming up with his name.

Doug said...

John - I guess that after a few semesters, I too figured it out; however, during all 8 semesters I was unwilling to do it! Got through high school without much studying, so why not college? :-) My idea of studying hard was staying up all night before the test on the next day, and we all know how well that works. Thankfully, the CU graduate school looked more at the GRE's than the GPA's, and once in, I finally understood what it takes to get decent grades and to succeed.