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sagegrouse
11-27-2013, 04:44 AM
My handy-dandy literary style analysis doohickey machine believes that Al Featherston is the author of "Duke's Greaest Class?" and not our esteemed host, JD King.

sagegrouse

Bob Green
11-27-2013, 06:29 AM
The author of that article is definitely Al Featherston. It is a really enjoyable read with the discussion of Denton, Katherman and DeVenzio being a trip down Memory Lane as I spent countless hours in my backyard shooting jump shots, while pretending I was Rick Katherman. And it is Katherman with a K.

Ichabod Drain
11-27-2013, 07:41 AM
At the beginning of the article it stated Tyus Jones is the top rated point guard in the class. That is true if you only look at ESPN or PrepStars rankings. Overall on RSCI though, Mudiay is the top rated point guard and number two overall rated player.

I say this so if/when Tyus proves to be a better player we can bemoan the recruiting services even more :D (Jabari Parker behind Aaron Harrison LOL)

jaytoc
11-27-2013, 08:06 AM
Great memories - thanks.

Of course, it was not Fred Bearcat, but Barakat. And Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons was not from Boston, although he did leave Duke over Christmas break and resurfaced at Harvard. Jim was from Fairfield, Connecticut, where he played at Fairfield Prep and broke most of Calvin Murphy's state and New England scoring records.

budwom
11-27-2013, 08:19 AM
I remember those recruiting classes quite well, especially the Denton class and the Dawson/Melchionni et al class....ultimately Hubie Brown gave me a crash course in recruiting, which was WAY different back then.
There were very few "experts" back then...Howard Garfinkel was by far the most noted authority, and he didn't have a whole lot of competition.
One reason I would emphasize as to why some of "the best" classes or players didn't work out as expected back then was that the summer camp
scene wasn't nearly as big or evolved as it is now. I'd assert as a consequence that many of the purported "best" players were white kids...they tended to have more visibility and hype.
Black kids did not have as much opportunity to compete head on since there were far fewer camps and AAU events in which they could show their stuff.

Take a look at those two highly touted classes, and you'll find 10 pretty good basketball players, but not a single African American one.
Needless to say, talent just wasn't as accurately assessed back then (not to imply it's flawless now....but it's a whole lot better than it used to be).

sagegrouse
11-27-2013, 08:24 AM
Great memories - thanks.

Of course, it was not Fred Bearcat, but Barakat. And Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons was not from Boston, although he did leave Duke over Christmas break and resurfaced at Harvard. Jim was from Fairfield, Connecticut, where he played at Fairfield Prep and broke most of Calvin Murphy's state and New England scoring records.

It's obvious that Al has a "K" problem: "Catherman" and "Bearcat." Sounds like the Coach is not only sucking up all the oxygen in the room but all the K's as well.

sagegrouse

johnb
11-27-2013, 08:46 AM
funny... as I read the article, I thought, "this has to be featherston." it's kinda like picking up a Dave Eggers novel and reading Philip Roth. Both excellent, but different.

jimsumner
11-27-2013, 09:51 AM
The author of that article is definitely Al Featherston. It is a really enjoyable read with the discussion of Denton, Katherman and DeVenzio being a trip down Memory Lane as I spent countless hours in my backyard shooting jump shots, while pretending I was Rick Katherman. And it is Katherman with a K.

You pretended to be Rick Katherman? Was Bob Verga taken? :)

Dream big or don't dream at all.

jv001
11-27-2013, 11:41 AM
You pretended to be Rick Katherman? Was Bob Verga taken? :)

Dream big or don't dream at all.

See, another person that like Rick. But I did pretend to be the guy from Seagirt, NJ. At least I think that's where Verga was from. GoDuke!

jimsumner
11-27-2013, 12:05 PM
See, another person that like Rick. But I did pretend to be the guy from Seagirt, NJ. At least I think that's where Verga was from. GoDuke!

I was at Duke when Katherman played. The joke was, he is 6-7 but shoots like he's 6-2. But he's 6-7 and rebounds like he's 6-2.

But the Springfield Rifle could sure fill it up. The 3-point shot would have elevated his profile quite a bit.

Indoor66
11-27-2013, 12:09 PM
I was at Duke when Katherman played. The joke was, he is 6-7 but shoots like he's 6-2. But he's 6-7 and rebounds like he's 6-2.

But the Springfield Rifle could sure fill it up. The 3-point shot would have elevated his profile quite a bit.

He loved the corner. He had a quick trigger.

dukechem
11-27-2013, 12:22 PM
He loved the corner. He had a quick trigger.

3712

budwom
11-27-2013, 12:46 PM
I was at Duke when Katherman played. The joke was, he is 6-7 but shoots like he's 6-2. But he's 6-7 and rebounds like he's 6-2.

But the Springfield Rifle could sure fill it up. The 3-point shot would have elevated his profile quite a bit.

Alas, Rick was the Manchester Rifle, not the Springfield rifle. Flattest corner shot I've ever seen, though far from the worst.

jimsumner
11-27-2013, 01:09 PM
Alas, Rick was the Manchester Rifle, not the Springfield rifle. Flattest corner shot I've ever seen, though far from the worst.

Ah, Manchester. Thanks.

Grey Devil
11-27-2013, 02:46 PM
I was a member of that ’67 entry class with Denton, Katherman, DeVenzio (see my avatar), and Featherston. One thing that Al didn’t mention that I think contributed to that basketball class not living up to its high expectations was the social/political turmoil of the time that really rocked the campus. By 1969 one had to be a total recluse not to be impacted in some way by the events on campus, in the country and around the world. There were plenty of things happening on campus to distract one’s attention – way beyond the “normal” distractions. ;) Also, Bucky Waters succeeded the great Vic Bubas as head coach in ’69-’70 and was rumored to have little tolerance for the “free thinking” of the time. Rumors also circulated that DeVenzio wasn’t thrilled with Waters. I don’t know the truth of these rumors – it may have been pure speculation that fueled them, but it’s certainly true that changing coaches, with their inevitably different coaching philosophies was bound to have some impact on the production of some players, thus explaining some inability to meet the expectations for the incoming class in ’67.


Grey Devil


P.S. Can’t believe Al spelled Katherman with a “C!”)

budwom
11-27-2013, 03:00 PM
I was a member of that ’67 entry class with Denton, Katherman, DeVenzio (see my avatar), and Featherston. One thing that Al didn’t mention that I think contributed to that basketball class not living up to its high expectations was the social/political turmoil of the time that really rocked the campus. By 1969 one had to be a total recluse not to be impacted in some way by the events on campus, in the country and around the world. There were plenty of things happening on campus to distract one’s attention – way beyond the “normal” distractions. ;) Also, Bucky Waters succeeded the great Vic Bubas as head coach in ’69-’70 and was rumored to have little tolerance for the “free thinking” of the time. Rumors also circulated that DeVenzio wasn’t thrilled with Waters. I don’t know the truth of these rumors – it may have been pure speculation that fueled them, but it’s certainly true that changing coaches, with their inevitably different coaching philosophies was bound to have some impact on the production of some players, thus explaining some inability to meet the expectations for the incoming class in ’67.


Grey Devil


P.S. Can’t believe Al spelled Katherman with a “C!”)

Indeed, Bucky wasn't able to relate to many of his players. Suffice it to say, it wasn't a rumor, a lot of them didn't like Bucky at all and an astonishing percentage of them transferred...perhaps as
many as ten: just off the top of my head, O'Connor, Fitzsimmons and Dawson from one class Al highlighted, then Don Blackmon, Dave Elmer, Ron Righter, the list goes on and on...and if I had a decent
memory I'd list a few more.

jaytoc
11-27-2013, 03:06 PM
Grey Devil-

I think you make a very fair point, although the members of that class ('71) pretty much stuck it out to the end.

My entering class, '69, not so much. Fitz left at the halfway point of his freshman year, leading that exciting and very talented team in scoring - I think all five freshman were averaging in double figures at the time. It's hard to believe that a highly recruited athlete experiencing great success with a top class program would leave after one semester simply because he wanted to be closer to home - but I don't recall any suggested causes of his departure.

Dawson left after his second season. I remember that he was playing a fair amount and contributing significantly. Why did he leave?

O'Connor, who left late in our junior year, was the one player seemingly most outwardly frustrated with Bucky. But that doesn't mean he was alone, and I suspect Bucky had something to do with either or both of Fitzsimmons' and Dawson's leaving.

Alan Shaw appeared the most easy going and able to deal with a martinet as a coach - just my take from afar. Probably the same for Mel - those two seemed less intense than their classmates, enjoyed the non-basketball aspects of college life, and probably look back on Duke basketball with measures of satisfaction and pride, as they should.

Did the turmoil of the times contribute to the dissolution of that freshman class? Probably at least contributed. Was Bucky the predominant cause? Most likely. Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll? Sure. If anyone has a better idea of what broke up that team, please weigh in.

jimsumner
11-27-2013, 03:30 PM
Grey Devil-

I think you make a very fair point, although the members of that class ('71) pretty much stuck it out to the end.

My entering class, '69, not so much. Fitz left at the halfway point of his freshman year, leading that exciting and very talented team in scoring - I think all five freshman were averaging in double figures at the time. It's hard to believe that a highly recruited athlete experiencing great success with a top class program would leave after one semester simply because he wanted to be closer to home - but I don't recall any suggested causes of his departure.

Dawson left after his second season. I remember that he was playing a fair amount and contributing significantly. Why did he leave?

O'Connor, who left late in our junior year, was the one player seemingly most outwardly frustrated with Bucky. But that doesn't mean he was alone, and I suspect Bucky had something to do with either or both of Fitzsimmons' and Dawson's leaving.

Alan Shaw appeared the most easy going and able to deal with a martinet as a coach - just my take from afar. Probably the same for Mel - those two seemed less intense than their classmates, enjoyed the non-basketball aspects of college life, and probably look back on Duke basketball with measures of satisfaction and pride, as they should.

Did the turmoil of the times contribute to the dissolution of that freshman class? Probably at least contributed. Was Bucky the predominant cause? Most likely. Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll? Sure. If anyone has a better idea of what broke up that team, please weigh in.

Fitzsimmons left after his freshman season. So, he never played for Bucky Waters. Same with Sam May, from the next class, a freshman who went home for Christmas break and never came back.

Blackmon had academic troubles.

Dawson started most of his sophomore season but lost PT to Melchionni late that season. A blend of PT, home-sick and Bucky-fatigue, methinks. He ended up at Illinois and was pretty good.

O'Connor left in the middle of his junior season, when he was averaging over 15 ppg and had just been named ACC POY for his performance in an epic upset win over Carolina.

O'Connor was quite outspoken in his distaste for Waters. I'm pretty sure the sentiment was returned.

Elmer had the strangest departure. He was a sophomore, who had played quite well on the freshman team, once scoring 40 against Burleson. He lost his starting spot just before the opener. He dressed out, was sitting on the bench. Bucky turned to him to send him in and Elmer refused to go. He basically quit during the middle of a game. He apparently was under the impression that he could salvage a semester's worth of eligibility by not going in. He couldn't.

He transferred to Miami of Ohio, where he was a good but not great player. But Miami did stun UNC in Carmichael during his tenure there, so he got one more win at Chapel Hill then every single player who suited up for Duke in the 1970s and much of the 1980s.

DeVenzio and Waters also did not see eye-to-eye, in large part for basketball reasons. DeVenzio averaged 12.2 ppg as a soph, under Bubas. Waters wanted his point guards to shoot less and DeVenzio wasn't happy about it. But DeVenzio was a very, very bright guy and he valued the Duke degree enough to stick around.

There definitely was a generational/cultural divide going on. It was interesting times. A number of the players who stuck around have told me they think the guys that left were whiny and spoiled. I'm sure the guys that left feel otherwise.

Waters has suggested to me that he might have come down a bit harsher than was prudent. My words not his. But I think it's safe to say he's mellowed.

But too late to save the mid-70s. Students held up "Fire Bucky" signs. It was not pleasant.

killerleft
11-27-2013, 03:37 PM
Grey Devil-

I think you make a very fair point, although the members of that class ('71) pretty much stuck it out to the end.

My entering class, '69, not so much. Fitz left at the halfway point of his freshman year, leading that exciting and very talented team in scoring - I think all five freshman were averaging in double figures at the time. It's hard to believe that a highly recruited athlete experiencing great success with a top class program would leave after one semester simply because he wanted to be closer to home - but I don't recall any suggested causes of his departure.

Dawson left after his second season. I remember that he was playing a fair amount and contributing significantly. Why did he leave?

O'Connor, who left late in our junior year, was the one player seemingly most outwardly frustrated with Bucky. But that doesn't mean he was alone, and I suspect Bucky had something to do with either or both of Fitzsimmons' and Dawson's leaving.

Alan Shaw appeared the most easy going and able to deal with a martinet as a coach - just my take from afar. Probably the same for Mel - those two seemed less intense than their classmates, enjoyed the non-basketball aspects of college life, and probably look back on Duke basketball with measures of satisfaction and pride, as they should.

Did the turmoil of the times contribute to the dissolution of that freshman class? Probably at least contributed. Was Bucky the predominant cause? Most likely. Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll? Sure. If anyone has a better idea of what broke up that team, please weigh in.

Somebody should ask Bucky. He's visible enough.:)

devildeac
11-27-2013, 03:53 PM
Fitzsimmons left after his freshman season. So, he never played for Bucky Waters. Same with Sam May, from the next class, a freshman who went home for Christmas break and never came back.

Blackmon had academic troubles.

Dawson started most of his sophomore season but lost PT to Melchionni late that season. A blend of PT, home-sick and Bucky-fatigue, methinks. He ended up at Illinois and was pretty good.

O'Connor left in the middle of his junior season, when he was averaging over 15 ppg and had just been named ACC POY for his performance in an epic upset win over Carolina.

O'Connor was quite outspoken in his distaste for Waters. I'm pretty sure the sentiment was returned.

Elmer had the strangest departure. He was a sophomore, who had played quite well on the freshman team, once scoring 40 against Burleson. He lost his starting spot just before the opener. He dressed out, was sitting on the bench. Bucky turned to him to send him in and Elmer refused to go. He basically quit during the middle of a game. He apparently was under the impression that he could salvage a semester's worth of eligibility by not going in. He couldn't.

He transferred to Miami of Ohio, where he was a good but not great player. But Miami did stun UNC in Carmichael during his tenure there, so he got one more win at Chapel Hill then every single player who suited up for Duke in the 1970s and much of the 1980s.

DeVenzio and Waters also did not see eye-to-eye, in large part for basketball reasons. DeVenzio averaged 12.2 ppg as a soph, under Bubas. Waters wanted his point guards to shoot less and DeVenzio wasn't happy about it. But DeVenzio was a very, very bright guy and he valued the Duke degree enough to stick around.

There definitely was a generational/cultural divide going on. It was interesting times. A number of the players who stuck around have told me they think the guys that left were whiny and spoiled. I'm sure the guys that left feel otherwise.

Waters has suggested to me that he might have come down a bit harsher than was prudent. My words not his. But I think it's safe to say he's mellowed.

But too late to save the mid-70s. Students held up "Fire Bucky" signs. It was not pleasant.

Thanks, Jim. This fills in some missing info for me explaining what happened to Duke basketball during the four years before Ozzie and I arrived at the Gothic Wonderland. The 72-73 season was Duke's first losing season (IIRC) in over 30 years (32? 33?). Too painful to research it and get the exact number right. We lost our last home game and Bucky was serenaded with:

Good-bye, Bucky.
Good-bye, Bucky.
Good-bye, Bucky.
We're glad to see you go.

It was indeed not pleasant.

jimsumner
11-27-2013, 04:08 PM
Thanks, Jim. This fills in some missing info for me explaining what happened to Duke basketball during the four years before Ozzie and I arrived at the Gothic Wonderland. The 72-73 season was Duke's first losing season (IIRC) in over 30 years (32? 33?). Too painful to research it and get the exact number right. We lost our last home game and Bucky was serenaded with:

Good-bye, Bucky.
Good-bye, Bucky.
Good-bye, Bucky.
We're glad to see you go.

It was indeed not pleasant.

Waters was scheduled to coach the 1973-'74 season. He had one year left on his contract but told AD Carl James that he couldn't recruit without an extension. When James declined, Waters resigned, shortly before the beginning of practice.

Duke was on the hot seat. You don't get quality coaches in September.

James actually contacted Adolph Rupp, forced to retire at Kentucky because of an maximum-age rule for state employees. It would have been for one year, long enough for James to look for a permanent replacement.

James told me that it was a done deal until the manager of Rupp's farms died unexpectedly. Rupp called it off and Duke assistant Neil McGeachy took over on a one-year contract. He went 10-16 and didn't get the permanent job.

James hired Bill Foster, so that one turned out okay. But Foster had a real rebuilding project on his hands.

jaytoc
11-27-2013, 04:14 PM
I had forgotten about Dave Elmer, but even on being reminded can't recall him ever scoring 40 points. I'll take Jim Sumner's word for it, of course.

And Jim, although Fitzsimmons didn't exactly PLAY for Bucky, he was certainly coached by him, and was a part of Bucky's program for his four months at Duke. He did not leave after his freshman year, as you indicated - he left after the first semester, never playing following the Christmas break in 1969. While he experienced initial success at Harvard, his game deteriorated, rumored to be because of other interests that diverted his attentions, and never fulfilled his considerable basketball promise.

I suspect that Bucky rehabilitated himself in most of our eyes by his work as a color commentator, which humanized him and showed his better sides. As Grey Devil suggests, those were pretty difficult times, and both Bucky and some of his players were the victims of, among other things, the generational/cultural divide.

OldPhiKap
11-27-2013, 04:30 PM
I suspect that Bucky rehabilitated himself in most of our eyes by his work as a color commentator, which humanized him and showed his better sides. As Grey Devil suggests, those were pretty difficult times, and both Bucky and some of his players were the victims of, among other things, the generational/cultural divide.

Not everyone could straddle a fence like Uncle Terry . . . .

Devil in the Blue Dress
11-27-2013, 04:39 PM
Not everyone could straddle a fence like Uncle Terry . . . .
When one straddles the fence makes a difference, too.

The late sixties were unbelievably exciting, shocking, violent, nonviolent, uplifting and depressing.

Indoor66
11-27-2013, 04:42 PM
I suspect that Bucky rehabilitated himself in most of our eyes by his work as a color commentator, which humanized him and showed his better sides. As Grey Devil suggests, those were pretty difficult times, and both Bucky and some of his players were the victims of, among other things, the generational/cultural divide.

I've known Bucky for a long time. He has been dedicated to Duke since he served as an assistant to Vic Bubas. He always wanted to come back to Duke when he went to West Virginia as head coach. After he resigned he became a very successful fund raiser with the Development Office and then at the Hospital. In conversations Bucky is very open about his shortcomings during the trying period coaching during Vietnam and the cultural revolution of the 1960's. He admits to not adjusting well. Many didn't. He was a product of his time and the times, they were achangin. Not everyone changed in a timely manner.

All said, Bucky is a fine man who loves Duke and served her well (even though he is a State grad).

jimsumner
11-27-2013, 04:54 PM
I had forgotten about Dave Elmer, but even on being reminded can't recall him ever scoring 40 points. I'll take Jim Sumner's word for it, of course.

And Jim, although Fitzsimmons didn't exactly PLAY for Bucky, he was certainly coached by him, and was a part of Bucky's program for his four months at Duke. He did not leave after his freshman year, as you indicated - he left after the first semester, never playing following the Christmas break in 1969. While he experienced initial success at Harvard, his game deteriorated, rumored to be because of other interests that diverted his attentions, and never fulfilled his considerable basketball promise.

I suspect that Bucky rehabilitated himself in most of our eyes by his work as a color commentator, which humanized him and showed his better sides. As Grey Devil suggests, those were pretty difficult times, and both Bucky and some of his players were the victims of, among other things, the generational/cultural divide.

Elmer's 40-point game was in a freshman game. He fouled Burleson out and I can still remember Burleson on his hands and knees, slamming the floor in frustration.

Elmer averaged 21.1 points and 10.1 rebounds on that freshman team, shooting 62.2% from the field.

Could of been a contender.

I still don't think we can pin Fitzsimmons on Waters. I'm pretty sure Fitzsimmons lasted past Christmas break because freshman teams hardly played before Christmas in those days. He played eight of the sixteen games, averaging 19.3 ppg. I seem to recall semester break took place much later in those days, so that might be it.

His game overlapped a lot with that of Dawson and Melchionni was a combo guard in that class, while O'Connor was a 6-4 2/3. So, I think he just looked at the depth chart and didn't like what he saw.

He was first-team All-Ivy in 1974.

I'm not sure Bucky rehabbed himself as much as mellowed. After leaving coaching, he became a fund raiser for Duke hospital. I suspect my-way-or-the-highway didn't work all that well in that context. But I do find it difficult to reconcile the Bucky Waters I know now with the Bucky Waters I thought I knew back in 1972.

I do sometimes imagine a 1972 Duke team with O'Connor, Redding, Shaw, Melchionni, Blackman, Dawson, Elmer, Fitzsimmons and Righter. Probably doesn't lose 12 games.

Then again, Robbie West never has a chance to see the floor against Carolina. So, there's that.

OldPhiKap
11-27-2013, 05:11 PM
When one straddles the fence makes a difference, too.

The late sixties were unbelievably exciting, shocking, violent, nonviolent, uplifting and depressing.

I do not think I have ever seen it put better, DiBD.

Grey Devil
11-27-2013, 05:11 PM
.... As Grey Devil suggests, those were pretty difficult times, and both Bucky and some of his players were the victims of, among other things, the generational/cultural divide.

Not sure I would use the phrase “victims of, among other things, the generational/cultural divide.” Those were enlightening times, based on my experience, and I subscribe to the philosophy that many people had their “awareness raised,” not that they were “victimized.” But that gets into politics and we no longer have a board that allows for that kind of discussion.


I do think, however, that Bucky did not have a full understanding of what cultural changes students then were experiencing. (And based on what Indoor66 and Jim Sumner posted, it appears that that Bucky has learned and grown a lot – as have we all – since those times.) I won’t claim to know anything about what went on between Bucky and his team. However, many of us on campus at that time decided to take different paths as a result of the then current climate. For example, even though I had lettered on the Duke swim team during both my freshman and sophomore years, I decided that I had other priorities as a result of the changes going on around me and decided not to continue my athletic activities. Instead I directed my attentions to my academic work and focused more on social change and education. Others made different decisions, which I cannot and will not judge.


I can say, however, that Bucky certainly has improved his public image immensely since those times. Occasionally I do wonder, however, if DeVenzio were still alive what kind of relationship, if any, he and Bucky would now have. I certainly hope that, like many others who experienced those times, they would have been able to grow beyond their differences and would now have a healthier relationship.

Grey Devil