Wednesday, March 20, 2013

30 Years Ago---March 20, 1983

This was a great Sunday.

It began with one of those special Sunday morning worship services at our church.  The kind where Dad never got around to preaching.

That's not meant as a cut towards my Pop.  :)

Sometimes, a random testimony during the announcements would turn into a testimony session, and as God's Spirit moved in the church, people were truly moved and truly blessed.  That's what we had going on this Lord's Day and I remember it to this day.  My testimony was a thank you to my Dad for all the evenings he spent taking me from Beaverdam to Ashland for play practice at school, waiting on me by going to his second job place, Ukrop's in Ashland, and chewing the fat with employees until it was time to get me.

No big deal, right?

Well, it was, considering he had to turn around and get up at 3:45AM to go to work the next morning.  It makes my trips to take and get Rachel from Glen Allen (a simple 6 mile roundtrip) extremely easy by comparison.

Then it was home to watch N.C. State in the NCAA Tournament Second Round, this time against UNLV, a 28-2 team. As usual, the Wolfpack fell behind, and, as usual, they roared back just at the right time.

Thurl Bailey got a rebound after batting the ball off the backboard to himself, and his put-back gave State a 71-70 win and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

Another nailbiter, another win!

And the Road To Albuquerque continues.....

30 Years Ago---March 19, 1983.....

So, the actual game was played on March 18th, but on the west coast, and, thanks to the then-magic of "tape delay", the parts of the game that mattered most.....and that I saw....were show on 3/19.

Now, with THAT technicality out of the way........:)

I went to bed that Friday night knowing N.C. State played its first NCAA Tournament game in Oregon in the West Region against that powerhouse Pepperdine.  I was confident and hopeful to awaken Saturday to hear that they had, again, survived and advanced.

I woke up in the middle of the night instead....about 1:30....

...and since the CBS "tape-delay" broadcast began at 11:30, that meant the game was still on.  So, I get up, turn on my awesome black and white TV, and, much to my surprise and shagrin, we were LOSING.

In what would, of course, become the "State Standard" of this March, the Wolfpack frantically came back, tied the game, sent it to overtime, then forced a second overtime, before FINALLY picking up the 69-67 win.

So, by a little after 2am, I turned off the TV, crawled back into bed, and rested very, very well.  But not until I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

Up next was a date with 28-2 UNLV on Sunday afternoon.  :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

30 Years Ago Today---March 13, 1983.....

Alright, Dad, preach well, but preach quick so we get home in time for tip-off!

I hated it when the ACC moved its Tournament final to Sunday afternoon from Saturday night in 1982, but my voice was not listened to.  Happy to report we got home in time to watch N.C. State battle Ralph Sampson and Virginia for the ACC Tournament title.

Virginia was desperate because they had yet to win an ACC Championship with the big man and he was a senior.  N.C. State was more desperate because a loss would end their season. Virginia would make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team with a much better regular season record.

Back and forth we went....the nail biting was excruciating.  But when it was all said and done, I can still remember Thurl Bailey filling my black and white TV screen with a huge smile, as the Wolfpack celebrated on the floor of the old Omni in Atlanta, with an 81-78 win over the Cavaliers!!

One of my all-time favorite teachers, Mrs. Sharon Adams, called my house long distance from Richmond to congratulate me on my team's accomplishment.  I'll never forget that.  :)

Later on, they announced the 52-team field for the NCAA Tournament. CBS was only in its second year covering the tourney, and the year before had premiered a 30-minute program late on Sunday afternoon to announce the tournament field.  Back then, they had no cameras at college sites to "get the reaction of a team" when they see if/where they will begin their March Madness journey.  Heck, the term March Madness had just started to catch on (Musburger should have copyrighted that immediately....). It was Brent and Billy Packer in a studio talking about the upcoming event, maybe a coach or two interviewed.

I went to church and later found out State was going to the West Region as the #6 seed and would play Pepperdine in the first round on Friday night.  Late Friday night.

Until then, I savored the Tournament championship, headed to bed to ready myself for another week of school and play practice, patiently awaiting Friday night.  Late Friday night.

I hadn't been this happy about a sporting event since my Oakland Raiders won Super Bowl XV on January 25, 1981.....I had no idea what was about to unfold over the next three weekends.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

30 Years Ago: March 12, 1983....

A pensive Saturday, as I joined Wolfpack fans around the world from my living room to watch the boys try to stay alive against defending national champion North Carolina in the ACC Tournament Semifinals.

As will be the case for the next three weeks, nothing would come easy, and we ended up going to overtime. And that's about the time I realized.....

....I was wearing a UNC wristband on my left arm.  I had been for some time (days, weeks...) because I love all things North Carolina.  But this HAD to go.  I took it off and flung it across the living room!  Don't worry, I picked it up later...

....after the Wolfpack stormed through overtime en route to a seven-point win, 91-84!  One more win, and the Pack would be back in the Big Dance.  No way their regular season record would get them an at-large bid in a field of just 52 teams in 1983.  They'll have to beat....

....Ralph Sampson and Virginia.  The team we led by 27 and lost to after losing Dereck Whittenburg to injury that fateful January night that seemed to doom the season.  Sampson, Wilson, Miller, Carlisle, the usual Cavalier suspects.

We've GOT to beat Virginia.  If there's one team I could NOT stand then...and now, it's Virginia, though not as vociferously as I did in the early 1980s.....

See you tomorrow, Ralph.

30 Years Ago: The Series....

The period from February to July, 1983 was, in hindsight, the most pivotal five month period in my life.  Most of my career direction and life trajectory came from the events of this time....

It began with a shocking and complete surprise when I was named to a lead role in my first-ever high school musical, "The 1940's Radio Hour", the story of a rundown New York City radio station trying to get ready to produce its Christmas spectacular in late 1942 during World War II.

Walking into Webb Auditorium cast as the host/producer of the show was a daunting task as I was surrounded onstage by juniors and seniors with ages upon ages of experience.  I drank it all in, tried not to be in awe of my fellow actors and actresses, and hit the ground running.

A couple of weeks later, I participated in my first-ever Central Region forensics competition in the Original Oratory category, parlaying a love of college basketball into an expose of the problems besetting big-time athletics in the early 1980s (which seem somewhat faint compared to today's multi-billion dollar behemoth that is the NCAA).

I was stunned when I was named second place winner in the category, which meant a trip to the State Championships at UVA a few weeks later.

In the meantime, my beloved North Carolina State Wolfpack were about to embark on a little journey of their own. Having just gotten guard Dereck Whittenburg back from a foot injury suffered against Ralph Sampson and Virginia several weeks earlier, the Pack went to the ACC Tournament the #4 seed, but, in reality, needing to win the whole thing in Atlanta in order to punch a ticket to the then-52 team field of the NCAA Tournament.

And there is where we pick up the story.....

Friday, March 11, 1983: A typical 10th grade Friday at Patrick Henry High (sans all of those roofs they have today...hee hee), where I sat in my final class of the day wondering how my Wolfpack, who had a 2pm tip against Wake Forest, were doing.

Remember, kids, no Twitter, no Smartphones, no internet, no WatchESPN app.

The school day ended, I got on the bus for the long hour ride home to Beaverdam, and.....

.....lookie what we had here.  Somehow, someone managed to have a 5 inch, battery-operated black and white TV on the bus.  And, better still, our driver let it play.  :)

NC State beat Wake the previous weekend 130-89.....but NOTHING came easy in the post-season.  I watched frantically as the Pack hit critical free throws down the stretch to begin what we all know now as "Survive and Advance", a 71-70 win that set up a match in Saturday's semis against Jordan, Perkins, and North Carolina, the defending National Champions.

See you tomorrow, from the living room in the parsonage in Beaverdam.