Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Forty-Five Year Reminder

A MetroNews story by Taylor Kennedy

I'll be posting more soon... 

Charleston-based AAU teams from 1970s recall fond memories of successful runs - WV MetroNews

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Search for '77 Team Photos

Charleston Daily Mail studio photo, below.

Front row: Boo Duiguid, J.T. Morris, Joey Bowles. Back row,
Randy Risher, Bruz Hicks, Mike Reed, Andy Spradling, Gay Elmore, Dan Garner. Absent, Alex Nagy, Greg Fields, and Michael Calhoun.
Program photo: Boo Duiguid, Bruz Hicks, Joey Bowles,Mike Reed, Coach Rodger Monk, Andy Spradling, Coach Ron Cobb, Greg Fields, Dan Gardner, Gay Elmore, Randy Risher, J.T. Morris. Absent, Michael Calhoun, Alex Nagy.

Semi-final post game: front row, Randy Risher, Alex Nagy, Boo Duiguid, Bruz Hicks. Back row, Michael Calhoun, Dan Garner, Mike Reed, Andy Spradling, Greg Fields, Gay Elmore. Absent, Joey Bowles, J.T. Morris.
Sadly, it appears that the only picture available with the entire West Virginia 12-and-under squad, which became 1977 AAU National Champions, appears in the blog already... call it "Casual in Cincy."
Each of the other three photos above lack two or three players, except below. It doesn't look like it here, because these casual young fellows caused some casualties in the next few days.
Clockwise from top left: J.T. Morris, Greg Fields, Mike Reed, Dan Garner, Gay Elmore, Alex Nagy, Bruz Hicks, Boo Duiguid, Joey Bowles, Andy Spradling, Michael Calhoun, and Randy Risher.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Balfour Bonanza

IT TOOK AWHILE... over 32 years for some, 30 for others, but these members of the West Virginia AAU teams, which won the 1977 and 1979 national championships in Cincinnati and Charleston, respectively, have been awarded their rings. Pictured are (standing l to r) Andy Spradling, Mike Reed, Jeff Overstreet, Brett Harrison, Willie Jenkins, Joey Bowles, Ron Dawson, Alex Nagy, Mark Cline, Bruz Hicks, Gay Elmore, J.T. Morris, and seated in foreground, Coach Ron Cobb and Coach Rodger Monk.

Thanks to Balfour representative Doug Richardson for providing us with the service, and special thanks to friend and teammate Alex Nagy. Together we met with Doug to come up with the design of the ring, which is truly beautiful and, I believe, befitting the stature of the accomplishment. Just like his personality, Alex didn't want to go small, and I agreed. The below photo doesn't do the ring justice. Also, a sincere and special thanks to Rodger Monk, who helped make the rings, the reunion -- and the titles themselves -- a reality with his contributions. Thanks also to the Dunbar Athletic Boosters for helping to support our efforts.

Now, on to some photographic foolery. Due to a bit of a late start in planning, the rings were not actually ready for the Saturday evening reunion dinner at Sleepy Hollow. I have to thank the aforementioned Rachel Bush for this graphics enhancement. To make the picture as memorable as possible, two team members were actually replaced from other versions of the pose. Can you guess which two?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Tough Fight, Euphoria In Charleston

Above: Front row: J.T. Morris, David Bradley, Alex Nagy, Andy Spradling, Bruz Hicks; Back row: Jeff Overstreet, Ron Dawson, Willie Jenkins, Rick Trammell, Mike Reed, Mark Cline, Brett Harrison, Buster Duiguid, and Rodger Monk. (click to enlarge). I love this picture. What I see in it most is many faces with absolute glee... and in my case maybe a little relief. Here's a little after-thought about this shot. After a ninth grade year of a good bit of success I had gotten pretty humble, almost to the point of embarassment, about my good fortune. When we gathered as a team minutes after our championship victory, I set my All-Tournament trophy, i.e., All-American trophy in my mind, behind the team. You can almost see it behind Brett Harrison's foot.

WE HAD SEEN the Washington, D.C. group two years before in Cincinnati so we knew we were in for a tough game. I rarely got into foul trouble but I can remember the feeling of dread I had when I realized I'd been called for my third foul so early in the contest -- the Gazette says less than halfway through the first quarter -- and they were building a big lead.

But Mark Cline kept us in it. And everybody fought hard. Hopefully soon we'll have video clips to check out. The story itself was a weak effort on the part of the Gazette... no art. I've got more pictures from the tournament to scan in.

Rodger addresses the team at halftime. We weren't in bad shape, unlike Cincy. We had cut their lead to four, 29-25.

All I remember about those two foul shots was Alex Nagy talking in my ear all the way down the court. Words of inspiration I'm sure (he was probably telling me he was going to kick my ass if I missed). Rodger told me later this image was burned into his memory from the game. I don't know who took the photos. I do remember those were my first pair of Nikes... I loved those shoes!

Ricky and Mark run off the court celebrating. I see Ron in the background chatting with the cheerleaders. Wait, we had cheerleaders? Should have gotten them to the reunion as well. Mark was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, and he deserved it. As stated numerous times in this blog, he went on after a fantastic career at Williamson to star at Wake Forrest. Hopefully one day he'll be back in West Virginia coaching at Marshall or WVU.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Defeating A Great One

THE AAU National Tournament in Charleston was abuzz about Oklahoma's 6-foot-6 (and still growing) post player with giant skills... Wayman Tisdale. And as luck would have it, we drew that squad in the semi-finals on Friday night. Hey, you've got to beat the best to be the best, right?

Thinking about it now, there are probably just too many factors and hurdles ahead for most 15-year-old athletes for even intelligent adults around them to really predict the level of success that they will attain. But not with Wayman Tisdale. He was special. But we took it right at him. Mark Cline guarded him and Mike Reed got him in foul trouble. He scored 20 and had a couple of monster dunks, but the Kanawha Valley All-Stars prevailed with Mark knocking down 26. I added 18 or 19, depending on which newspaper you look at (that's amazing to me, both papers have the same shot attempts from the floor, then have different numbers from the line). Mike was 9-for-12, or 8-for-13 from the line, again depending on which paper you look at, for 11 or 10 points. Alex Nagy also chipped in 11 in addition to his excellent floor leadership.
Again, you have the Daily Mail and Gazette versions from which to choose (Click to enlarge). And then below, a special tribute to Wayman Tisdale, who past away this year after battling cancer.
Tisdale is #23. Oklahoma was the No. 6 seed, but oddly, their roster nor picture appear in the program. We were the No. 2 seed, behind Carson, Calif.

IN 1980, at the Opening Ceremonies of the AAU National Tournament at the Superdome in New Orleans, I spoke briefly with Wayman Tisdale. He initiated the conversion asking me, "Are you Spaulding?" The mis-pronunciation of my last name growing up was a curse. But when he said it I just smiled and said "yeah." We talked a bit. LSU Coach Dale Brown was the speaker at the ceremonies. I remember a quote he passed on to us that night... "I complained I had no shoes until I saw the boy with no feet." That stuck with me. I remember writing it down then putting it in my Bible. Another memory from that tournament, Karl Malone and Joe Dumars on the same Louisiana team (more later).
When Wayman Tisdale passed, I knew Mark Cline would have some special insights. Mark for the past three years has been an assistant head coach under Jeff Capel at Oklahoma. And of course, that's where Wayman went to school before his NBA career. Here's what Mark wrote:

"I got to know Wayman my last three years here at Oklahoma. He always was such an inspiration when we would see him, always had a smile on his face and was always happy to come back and be at our games. Wayman was a huge part of what “Oklahoma Basketball” represented. He was a magnet when he came back to the fans, media and coaches alike. Wayman made you feel special by just talking with him and that same feeling was felt by all former players that played at Oklahoma and were ever a part of this special program. Oklahoma fans loved Wayman. He always had time for the fans and the kids no matter what was going on in his life at the time. He made you feel you were the only one there when he was talking to you. We talked about the old days and Oklahoma’s loss to us in the National Semifinals in ’79 and you could always see a little smile on his face knowing that we had won the game. The biggest thing that I could say about Wayman is that he always treated the people with such respect no matter what walk of life they came from. He was just special – I could keep going on but Wayman was one in a million!!"
-- Mark Cline
And finally, Sports Illustrated's tribute:
Rest In Peace, Wayman Tisdale.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Contrast In Styles...

The stage was set. All the hot, grueling practice in gyms around the Kanawha Valley, usually South Charleston High, was behind us. Was it a mistake for me to have gone to Oklahoma with Rodger and his 15-16 year olds? Probably, but I made some new friends, saw some great basketball players, and met a girl from Iowa that corresponded with for years. She even made it into the lyrics of one of my songs, "Letters." Had we not won the tournament in Charleston, I would say yes. But we did, so Oklahoma was a great experience. I remember hearing that David Bennett, who was "THE" player at Charleston High in my era before Buster and then Keith Tyler (who all three followed a long line of great Charleston High players), came to see me in the hospital that next winter when I'd torn my ACL, but I had just been released.

You read about the Opening Ceremonies at the "Old Civic Center." The tournament surely was first rate and Charleston is absolutely a great venue for any event of that scale. We were facing a team from Maryland that we knew nothing about. They took us to the wire -- overtime, actually -- with a little bit of controversy.

The contrast in styles? Our local papers. Charleston was one of the last medium to small markets in America to have an afternoon paper. That changed within the last six months when the Charleston Daily Mail was moved (by the management of Charleston Newspapers, more about that later) to the morning to go head-to-head against the Charleston Gazette. Since it happened, the Daily Mail has picked up about 4,000 in subscriptions from the Gazette. The Gazette is the Democratic paper, the Daily Mail Republican.

What afternoon versus morning meant though always, was that the Daily Mail had extra time to get a good "feature..." a more in depth, more enriching story. Chuck Landon was excellent at finding the great angle and was always a friend to the AAU cause. The Gazette, short of time with a quick evening deadline, cranked out game stories... i.e., the basic facts about the game. This game though was played on a Thursday afternoon. Danny Wells chose to accentuate the negative in this game though it was really a minor incident.

(click to enlarge all images and stories)

The Pittsburgh win, the second of the day for us, just seemed like an afterthought to everybody, but it showed the great balance that we had... nearly five players in double figures. Mark Cline was coming into his own -- although he'd always been a great scorer. Unlike the style I was getting ready to play in high school, those guys from Southern West Virginia played one way: run and gun. That was the style we were playing in AAU. Get it down the floor and score.
The second win set the stage for our semi-final showdown with then-6-foot-6 Wayman Tisdale and his Oklahoma squad...