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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimsumner View Post
    Actually, the Goobers across I-40 won the NIT in '71 and I'm pretty sure there is a banner.
    Back in 1971 the NIT really meant something. There were more good teams in the NIT than in the one-team-per-conference NCAA tourney-- though the best teams still tended to be in the NCAA tourney. Certainly winning the NIT back then was probably harder than making the Final Four-- especially if you were in one of the easier NCAA regions, like the West (shout out to John Wooden and his empty accomplishment of winning 10 NCAA championships while the deck was stacked in his favor in many ridiculous ways).

    -Jason "I find UNC's banner for the Helms awarded national title to be far more ridiculous than the pre-1975 NIT banners" Evans

  2. #22
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    Just to clarify since the splitting of the thread may cause some confusion: my post about enjoying the 99 team was in response to someone's post in the old thread about "who wants a loaded team?" and citing the 99 season as one he hated. The post I was responding to remains in the old thread.

  3. #23
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    geez, it's bad when you go so far off topic that the mods move everything out. Am I in trouble?

  4. #24

    Denton-DeVenzio

    Quote Originally Posted by jimsumner View Post
    The Denton-DeVenzio class was the highest-ranked class Bubas brought in but they did lose some freshmen games.

    In 1968 the Duke freshmen games were broadcast on the campus radio station. Duke beat the Carolina frosh at home on a mid-court buzzer beater by DeVenzio. Freddie Roberts, calling the game, absolutely lost it. I can't repeat on a family site but there were lots of asterisks. The next season, the games were not on the radio.

    Denton thrived under Bucky. DeVenzio did not. Dick averaged 12.2 ppg as a sophomore, including a memorable 28-point game in an overtime loss to top-10 Davidson. But Waters wanted his PG to think pass first, second, and third. DV was a great open court player but BW reigned him in for a more half-court approach. DeVenzio's scoring dropped in half and he was visibly unhappy?

    Evans? Quit basketball after his junior season to play football. Probably should have made that decision sooner. He was a good h.s. basketball player but an off-the-charts football prospect.

    Katherman? A truly great shooter. But rebounding, defense, ball-handling? Why bother, that's so much work. Litz had the best view in the house. There was another member of the class, Larry Saunders, a 6'9" forward who transferred from Northwestern.

    The Class of '71 was the cornerstone to a pair of NIT teams back when the NIT meant something. Ironically, when they were seniors they were joined by a sophomore class that had gone undefeated as freshmen; Richie O'Connor, Gary Melchionni, Alan Shaw, Jeff Dawson. Final Four written all over it. But. Too many guys competing for too few minutes.

    Still, 20-10 and fourth in the NIT was the high-water mark for Duke basketball for a decade and it sure looked good a few years later.
    Jim, you got most of this right. This was my class at Duke and I worked briefly as a manager for this freshman team, so I hope you'll accept my corrections and additions:

    The Denton-DeVenzio class finished 12-4. It was coached by Tom Carmody. Bucky, who coached the Duke freshmen with Heyman, then Mullins was in his third year at West Virginia. Chuck Daly had coached the freshman with Verga, but he moved up the varsity staff in 1966. Hubie Brown didn't arrive until the next season, 1969.

    DeVenzio was by far the most celebrated basketball recruit in the class. Wooden at UCLA, Smith at UNC and Driesell at Davidson lusted after him. It was a great recruiting coup. Brad Evans was the Ron Curry of his day, the top QB recruit in the nation, who turned down Bear Bryant to sign with Duke. Surprisingly, Denton -- the best player in the class (and, I think, still the most underrated player in Duke history) flew under the recruiting radar, as did Katherman and Litz.

    It was a well-balanced team that averaged over 90 points a game. But mid-way through December they lost a high-scoring game at Davidson (something like 110-101). Early in January, they lost to UNC in Duke Indoor Stadium -- a stunner, since UNC's freshmen were weak -- Lee Dedmon, Kim Hubband and a walk-on point guard from Wilmington with an old-fashioned flat-top haircut named Dale Gripple.

    Early in February, Duke got revenge -- but the game was in Carmichael in Chapel Hill, not in Durham. Duke trailed most of the way, but rallied to tie, then DeVenzio won it with a 75-foot shot -- from his own foul line -- at the buzzer.

    I'm not sure about the other loss ... I think it might have been to State ... I can't remember. What I do remember is that Duke and UNC met at Duke for the Big Four Championship (which is what the freshmen played for) on the Friday night before the Freddie Lind triple-overtime loss.

    I know we were confident of winning and claiming the Big Four title, but UNC absolutely dominated the game and won easily. You got to give a lot of credit to their first-year freshman coach -- a guy Dean brought in from Kansas State named Bill Guthridge.

    For all that, the Denton-DeVenzio class wasn't that bad. As Jim noted, there were some major sophomore-senior conflicts the next year, but for the most part, Denton and DeVenzio started every game and played well as Duke went 15-13 in Bubas last season (8-6, tied for third in the ACC). They did finish the year strong, beating No. 2 UNC in Bubas' last home game (after the game, Dean Smith said we lost today when Dick DeVenzio decided to sign with Duke). Duke then beat Virginia and No. 13 South Carolina in the ACC Tournament and had a 10-point second-half lead on UNC in the title game when Charlie Scott went nuts and saved the Heels.

    As sophomores, Bucky came in to replace Bubas and the Denton-DeVenzio class basically took over the team. Four juniors started (all but Litz), along with Saunders. Denton averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds to lead a 17-9 team. They won 9 of their first 10 (the only loss on the road to No. 1 Kentucky) and seemed to be on a roll when DeVenzio sprained an ankle. He missed three games and was subpar for a few others -- Duke lost four straight right in the middle of the season, then won 8 of the last 10 in the regular season, including a fairly substantially season-ending victory over UNC.

    At that point, you'd have to say, the Denton-DeVenzio guys had acquited themselves quite well ... but then they flopped in post season,losing to Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC Tournament, then to Utah in the first round of the NIT. Still, under the modern 64-team NCAA format, that would have been an NCAA team-- probably a 6-7 seed.

    Evans, who averaged 9.9 points as a junior, didn't return for his senior year. He switched to football, where he played two years as an okay wide receiver. His problem was that when he switched, Duke already had a well-established star QB -- Leo Hart. Tom Harp once told me that Evans' best position was free safety, but Harp had the great Rich Searl there, so Evans ended up at WR.

    He was replaced in the lineup by one of three sophomores -- Jeff Dawson, Richie O'Connor and late in the season, Gary Melchionni. Saunders also alternated for playing time with soph Alan Shaw. Denton, DeVenzio and Katherman remained the team's fixtures.

    They were a lot like the 1969 team in that there was some real sophomore-senior friction. They got off to a bad start, going 3-4 after losing twice in the initial Big Four Tournament in Greensboro. But they got straightened out on the road at Dayton and improved to 9-7 before they really took off -- winning the last nine regular season games to finish 18-7 and climb to No. 19 in the AP poll.

    Then they flopped in the ACC Tournament again, losing a first-round game to State. Again, under current rules, they would have been an NCAA team -- maybe a 4-5 seed.

    As it was, they went to the NIT and beat Dayton (again) and No. 17 Tennessee in New York (all NIT games were in New York in those days) to get to 20-8. But they lost to UNC in the semifinals, then played a desultory game against St. Bonnie in the consolation game to finish 20-10.

    Tough finish for a talented class. Maybe we'd remember them differently if Scott hadn't blown up in the 1969 ACC final or if they'd won the 1971 NIT.

    Denton averaged 17.4, 21.5 and 20.4 points in his three seasons, along with 12.8, 12.5 and 12.8 rebounds. His career averages of 19.7 points and 12.7 rebounds rank 4th and 1st respectively in Duke history.

    DeVenzio ended up averaging 8.6 points and 4.8 assists per game (assists weren't official in those days, but Duke did keep them, although the statkeepers weren't quite as generous with them as they are today. That 4.8 average in that era was remarkable).

    Katherman averaged double figures all three of his varsity seasons, finishing with a career average of 12.3. He also averaged 4.4 rebounds, not too terrible for a small forward.

    Jim is right about DeVenzio's problems with Bucky. He signed with Vic because Bubas seemed to run the perfect system for him -- a wide-open, high paced game. But when Dick was a freshman, Bubas had to slow down with a huge --Mike Lewis, Steve Vandenburg -- slow (Dave Golden) team -- one reason he wouldn't come out of a zone in that 12-10 loss to State.

    The 15-13 record his last year was partly because Bubas wanted to run, thinking he had the perfect trigger with DeVenzio at the point. But Denton, Vandenberg and Katherman were a slow front line and they struggled.

    Bucky had no pretense -- he was going to build a team around Denton and play a half-court game to take advantage of his skills. That was probably a smart move, but it robbed DeVenzio of the chance to be a great college player (as he might have become in a fullcourt game).

    Dick became a very bitter guy about his Duke experience. He might have tried to lure Wuycik (that was during his freshman year when Bubas was still there), but he was later the host when Mitch Kupchak made a recruiting visit to Duke and Kupchak said that DeVenzio advised him to sign with UNC and play for Dean Smith.

    Overall, I'd have to agree that the Denton-DeVenzio class was disappointing, but they were hardly flops. It was after they left that Duke basketball hit rock bottom (14-12, 12-14, 10-16, 13-13, 13-14 in the next five years).

  5. #25
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    Appreciate the amendments on the '68 frosh season. I was a high school senior that year, so I was basing that on recollections of what folks told me the following season.

    Speaking of Devenzio, I assume most DBR readers that he became quite the gadfly before his death. He was an outspoken advocate of the view that college athletes were routinely exploited by the NCAA and the big colleges and they deserved compensation and better representation. A most interesting man.

  6. #26
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    Duke history

    Oly, thanks for the GREAT history lesson. I did not think many folks could correct jimsumner, one of our fabulous resident historians/contributors/writers, but you did and did so gracefully and eloquently. But, darn you, why did you have to remind me that my 4 years at Duke were among the bleakest/darkest days in our revered hoops history with no winning seasons from 72-76 We even 'celebrated' our first losing season in over 30 years by serenading Bucky during the last home game with strains of "good-bye, Bucky, good-bye, Bucky, good-bye, Bucky, we're glad to see you go" (remember that game Oz?) Sheesh, and now we are ready to jump off a cliff with a 22-11 record and a 1st round exit from the NCAA.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by jimsumner View Post
    Duke beat the Carolina frosh at home on a mid-court buzzer beater by DeVenzio. Freddie Roberts, calling the game, absolutely lost it.
    Nope, that game was at Carolina. I was there and my brother and I were laughing our asses off and nearly got run out of the gym.

    But then I am old so perhaps memory fails. But I'd swear it was at Carolina. In the last minute, DeVenzio stole the ball twice at midcourt and went for for layups . . . then the Denton shot. I liken the comeback to the J Williams job on Maryland. Truly amazing.

  8. #28
    Just read Olympic fan . . . and jeez, he's right. It was Devenzio who hit that shot. Denton got the rebound on a missed shot and flipped it to Devenzio . . . although I don't remember it as 75' . . . more like 10' on the wrong side of half-court. But, hey, past midcourt and who cares . . . its still a miracle.

  9. #29

    freshmen teams

    Hey gus, great stuff.

    One thing I was wondering is what was the composition of freshmen teams. I mean, currently freshmen classes are at most 5 scholarship players and maybe one walkon per class. So how were there freshmen teams? Would random freshmen students try out for these teams?

    Anyway, I Know that at one point, the UCLA freshmen team beat the national championship winning UCLA team so if they were able to do that with random UCLA students and then Bill Walton and a couple of other UCLA scholarship freshmen, (or was it Kareem's freshmen team?) then that would be even more impressive.

  10. #30
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    Many thanks to both Jim Sumner and Olympic Fan for a couple of great posts. The down years were my high school years (74, 75, 76, & 77). I believe I was the only Duke fan at my high school (Douglas Byrd in Fayetteville) and those were tough years to be a Duke fan, especially a Duke fan with a big mouth.
    Bob Green
    DBR Survivor Football Champion
    2010 & 2016

  11. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by jma4life View Post
    Hey gus, great stuff.

    One thing I was wondering is what was the composition of freshmen teams. I mean, currently freshmen classes are at most 5 scholarship players and maybe one walkon per class. So how were there freshmen teams? Would random freshmen students try out for these teams?

    Anyway, I Know that at one point, the UCLA freshmen team beat the national championship winning UCLA team so if they were able to do that with random UCLA students and then Bill Walton and a couple of other UCLA scholarship freshmen, (or was it Kareem's freshmen team?) then that would be even more impressive.
    Under NCAA rules, Freshmen were not eligible to play. All scholy players played freshman ball at all schools. Added to those squads were freshmen walk-ons. Some walk-ons made the the team for sophomore year, if they were good enough.

  12. #32
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    Lots of walk-ons on freshman teams. It wasn't unusual for a freshman team to have 12-14 players, with only 3-5 being on scholarship.

  13. #33

    freshmen teams

    Quote Originally Posted by jma4life View Post
    Anyway, I Know that at one point, the UCLA freshmen team beat the national championship winning UCLA team so if they were able to do that with random UCLA students and then Bill Walton and a couple of other UCLA scholarship freshmen, (or was it Kareem's freshmen team?) then that would be even more impressive.
    The UCLA freshman team that beat the varsity was the Lew Alcindor (his name at the time) class. UCLA, which had won the 1964 and 1965 national titles, didn't win it in 1966 (the year this happened). The varsity finished second in the Pac 10 and didn't make it to the NCAAs.

    That UCLA freshman class was IMHO the greatest single recruiting class of all time. Alcindor/Jabbar was a three-time national player of the year, point guard Lucius Allen was a two-time All-American, forward Lynn Shackleford was a three-year starter and All-Pac 10 player, forward Kenny Heitz started on national title teams as a soph and senior (and was sixth man as a junior), guard Bill Sweek was a nice player who would have been a starter almost anywhere else. They won three straight national titles (with Alcindor and Shackleford starting all three, Allen -- who flunked out after the 1968 season -- and Heitz starting on two of the three title teams). They would have won a fourth national title (and no one would have heard of Texas Western) if freshmen could have played in 1966.

    Freshmen teams in that era were definitely a mix of recruited players and walk-ons from the student body. If I remember right, Bob Verga and Bob Reidy were the only two recruited players on 1963-64 team and they played with a bunch of walk-ons. On the other hand, The Steve Vandenburg-Dave Golden class started with seven guys on scholarship and Fred Lind didn't even start for most of his freshman year (that class had a great guard named Gene Bromstead who flunked out, later signed with Marquette and ended up starting with Dean the Dream Meminger).

    The great Gary Melchionni-Jeff Dawson-Richie O'Connor-Alan Shaw class that finished undefeated as freshmen originally started out with five freshmen and they all started the season as starters -- even though they were four guards and one center/power forward(okay, O'Connor might have qualified as a SF, although he was a 6-4 swingman). After first semester, Jim Fitzsimmonrs left school (he transferred to Harvard, where he led the Ivy League in scoring) and the four recruited kids were joined by a walk-on.

    Good trivia question, although I don't have the answer. Who was the walk-on who took Jim Fitzsimmons place as a starter on the last unbeaten freshman team in Duke history?

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    Good trivia question, although I don't have the answer. Who was the walk-on who took Jim Fitzsimmons place as a starter on the last unbeaten freshman team in Duke history?
    Steve Warner (catcher on the baseball team)? I know he was in the seven-man rotation at the beginning of the year.

  15. #35
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    "Who was the walk-on who took Jim Fitzsimmons place as a starter on the last unbeaten freshman team in Duke history?"

    Freddie Williams got some burn too.

    FWIW, the freshman team my freshman year ('69) went something like 5-13. And this was a Bubas class. Don Blackman, Stu Yarborough, Robbie West, Pat Doughty and walk-ons. Blackman and West were very highly-regarded. The Duke folks thought West would be another Verga. All but Doughty later made some contributions at the varsity level but it was grim in '69, especially against the Heels, who had a dominant class, with Wuycik, Chamberlain, Previs, and Huband and kicked Duke around pretty good. Of course, they kicked a lot of other people around.

    A common twin-bill in those days was a freshman game at 6 and the varsity game at 8. So the students who had the best seats for the varsity game were the ones who sat through the freshman game. Being a hoops junkie, it wasn't much of a sacrifice.

    The year that Duke had the undefeated freshman team (1970) was one of those years when UNC only had two (IIRC) scholarship freshmen, George Karl and Donn Johnston. So they came to Cameron and tried a four corners freeze. I don't remember the final score but Duke did win and it was a hoot.

    The 1971 freshman team was pretty good too but didn't pay off much at the varsity level. Chris Redding was a solid player for Duke. Ron Righter transferred to St. Joseph's. Sam May, Duke's second African American recruit went home (Washington state) at Christmas break and never returned.

    The weirdest situation involved the team's best player, 6'9" Dave Elmer. Tommy Burleson and Bobby Jones were freshmen that year and Elmer appeared to be their equal. I still remember him scoring around 40 against Burleson and fouling him out. Elmer was running with the first time in practice his sophomore year, alongside 6'10" Alan Shaw. A few days before the opener, BW decided to switch from a double low-post offense to a single low-post offense, moving Redding ahead of Elmer. Elmer dressed out for the opener against Richmond. When Bucky tried to put him in as a reserve, Elmer refused to go in. Elmer transferred to Miami (Ohio) shortly afterwards. Apparently, Elmer was under the mistaken impression that he wouldn't lose that semester if he didn't play. Still had to sit out a year.

    Elmer was a decent player at Miami, but no Jones. Miami, however, did stun UNC in Chapel Hill the next season, accomplishing something that eluded Duke for almost two decades.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimsumner View Post
    " Sam May, Duke's second African American recruit .
    Was Claudius Claiborne not recruited? If he was, May would be number three, after Blackman.

  17. #37
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    No, C.B, was a walk-on. But Bubas knew he was showing up.

  18. #38

    Freshman walk-ons

    For any of you in the know...

    Back in the era of freshman teams, how common was it for an unknown freshman walk-on to eventually contribute to the varsity team? Were there ever any all-ACC caliber players that happened to show up for freshman tryouts?

  19. #39
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    Not sure about All-ACC. There may have been some. Al Heartley became a starter at State via that route. Heartley, btw, was State's first black player.

    Zeno Edwards, a little lefty, made the Duke varsity that way when I was there. Zeno scored four points in 1972. It should probably be noted that Duke's attrition problem was so bad in those days that Bucky badly needed some practice bodies. I'm not sure if Stu McKaig was recruited or not. I suspect there are others.

  20. #40
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    Zeno!

    Quote Originally Posted by jimsumner View Post
    Not sure about All-ACC. There may have been some. Al Heartley became a starter at State via that route. Heartley, btw, was State's first black player.

    Zeno Edwards, a little lefty, made the Duke varsity that way when I was there. Zeno scored four points in 1972.
    I know Zeno (he's Zeno Edwards III) - he's from Washington, NC and continues to practice dentistry here. His younger brother, Seth, played baseball for Duke and is the District Attorney for the Second District of North Carolina. The patriarch of the family, Zeno Edwards, Jr., played football at Duke and was a dentist here, as well as a state legislator.

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