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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    The Best Team In NC In 1969

    No, it wasn't Duke, or UNC, State, or Wake Forest. It was the High Point College Purple Panthers. Led by the incomparable Gene Littles and running mate Danny Whitt at guards, 6'11" Jim Picka at center, and Joe Colbert and Steve Taghenhorst at the forward slots, the team won the CC (Carolinas Conference), and eventually finished third in the nation in the NAIA national tournament. Only an upset by Eastern New Mexico State kept the Panthers from the title.
    And before you think I am nuts thinking a small school like that could be better than our ACC teams, remember that at that time there was a benefit game played each year after the season between all stars from the CC and ACC. That year the CC All Stars, led by Littles, Picka, and Whitt, blew the ACC Stars out if my memory serves me, by 18 points!
    I remember that team well, used to listen to their games on the radio, if Duke wasn't on.
    All these memories of my beloved Blue Devils just got me thinking of great teams from that era, and growing up in High Point had to give a shout out to the Purple Panthers of '69!
    And, while I am at it, just wanted to say why I became a Duke fan. Was watching a game on tv with my Grandfather, must have been around ten years old. It was Davidson ( coached by Left Driesell) and Duke. Duke won, and I just loved the name "Blue Devils." So I was hooked!!
    Last edited by Devilwin; 02-16-2017 at 11:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Devilwin View Post
    No, it wasn't Duke, or UNC, State, or Wake Forest. It was the High Point College Purple Panthers. Led by the incomparable Gene Littles and running mate Danny Whitt at guards, 6'11" Jim Picka at center, and Joe Colbert and Steve Taghenhorst at the forward slots, the team won the CC (Carolinas Conference), and eventually finished third in the nation in the NAIA national tournament. Only an upset by Eastern New Mexico State kept the Panthers from the title.
    And before you think I am nuts thinking a small school like that could be better than our ACC teams, remember that at that time there was a benefit game played each year after the season between all stars from the CC and ACC. That year the CC All Stars, led by Littles, Picka, and Whitt, blew the ACC Stars out if my memory serves me, by 18 points!
    I remember that team well, used to listen to their games on the radio, if Duke wasn't on.
    All these memories of my beloved Blue Devils just got me thinking of great teams from that era, and growing up in High Point had to give a shout out to the Purple Panthers of '69!
    And, while I am at it, just wanted to say why I became a Duke fan. Was watching a game on tv with my Grandfather, must have been around ten years old. It was Davidson ( coached by Left Driesell) and Duke. Duke won, and I just loved the name "Blue Devils." So I was hooked!!
    WOW!! While I do not remember the High Point team you mentioned, I do remember Gene Littles. Seems like he went on to play for the Carolina Cougars in the ABA, I think. Also the Duke/Davidson game, I remember watching one on TV too as a kid. I believe Davidson's star player then was Mike Maloy, (not sure of last name spelling). They had a powerful team that gave Duke fits as I recall. The good ole Jefferson Pilot sponsored days in the ACC!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Rougemont Nebulae

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Winston Salem, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by campered View Post
    WOW!! While I do not remember the High Point team you mentioned, I do remember Gene Littles. Seems like he went on to play for the Carolina Cougars in the ABA, I think. Also the Duke/Davidson game, I remember watching one on TV too as a kid. I believe Davidson's star player then was Mike Maloy, (not sure of last name spelling). They had a powerful team that gave Duke fits as I recall. The good ole Jefferson Pilot sponsored days in the ACC!!
    Gene Littles was the point guard for the Cougars and a good one. I think a player by the name of McClain(sp?) was the other guard. I do remember the High Point team that you mentioned. They were very good. GoDuke!

  5. #5
    I hate, HATE, HATE!!! this thread.

    Why? Because you are going to make me tout a Carolina team.

    Look, I'm sure 1969 High Point was a nice team ... but they were not the best team in North Carolina that year. Not close.

    That honor goes to 1969 UNC ... you say High Point finished third in the NAIA (the equivalent of NCAA Division II)? Well, UNC finished third in the NCAA -- 27-5.

    Yeah, High Point had a nice guard in Geno Littles -- UNC had a better one in All-American Charlie Scott. UNC also had a senior trio of center Rusty Clark, All-ACC first team forward Bill Bunting and All-ACC second team guard Dick Grubar. That trio were three-year starters on three straight Final Four teams and ACC champions. Littles was a good pro ... Scott was a better one (led the ABA in scoring and was a first-team All-ABA pick). Bunting started on the same Carolina Cougar team that Littles did. Grubar played a year with the Indiana Pacers.

    I'm not sure the '69 Deacs weren't better than High Point -- Charlie Davis was a better guard than Littles and Gil McGregor was a beast down low.

    Darn you for making me sing the praises of a team from UNC Cheat!

    BTW: The Carolina Cougars did play in three cities in their first year -- that was the entire point of their existence. The team came about because Frank Deford wrote an article in Sports Illustrated, touting the idea of a regional franchise. He suggested that North Carolina would be the perfect place for such a team, pointing out that there were three major arenas in the state. Jim Gardner, a Rocky Mount businessman, saw the article and liked the idea. He put together a consortium to buy an ABA expansion franchise. But the struggling Houston team came on the market, so they bought that tea, moved to Carolina, and fired every player and coach on gthe team. Gardner's group made it a true local team -- the starting guards were Gene Littles and Bob Verga (Ted "Hound Dog" McClain was a sub), the forwards were the UNC duo of Larry Miller and Bill Bunting ... the center was the only non Carolina product, George Peeples. Bones McKinney coached that first Carolina team to the playoffs as Verga earned first-team All-ABA honors and Miller was a second-team pick. Carolina split its home games between the Greensboro Coliseum, the old Charlotte Coliseum (the round one on Independence Blvd.) and Dorton Arena in Raleigh (they couldn't get Reynolds Coliseum). A year or so later, when they added Billy Cunningham and Joe Cardwell, the team adopted Greensboro as its only home.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    I hate, HATE, HATE!!! this thread.

    Why? Because you are going to make me tout a Carolina team.

    Look, I'm sure 1969 High Point was a nice team ... but they were not the best team in North Carolina that year. Not close.

    That honor goes to 1969 UNC ... you say High Point finished third in the NAIA (the equivalent of NCAA Division II)? Well, UNC finished third in the NCAA -- 27-5.

    Yeah, High Point had a nice guard in Geno Littles -- UNC had a better one in All-American Charlie Scott. UNC also had a senior trio of center Rusty Clark, All-ACC first team forward Bill Bunting and All-ACC second team guard Dick Grubar. That trio were three-year starters on three straight Final Four teams and ACC champions. Littles was a good pro ... Scott was a better one (led the ABA in scoring and was a first-team All-ABA pick). Bunting started on the same Carolina Cougar team that Littles did. Grubar played a year with the Indiana Pacers.

    I'm not sure the '69 Deacs weren't better than High Point -- Charlie Davis was a better guard than Littles and Gil McGregor was a beast down low.

    Darn you for making me sing the praises of a team from UNC Cheat!

    BTW: The Carolina Cougars did play in three cities in their first year -- that was the entire point of their existence. The team came about because Frank Deford wrote an article in Sports Illustrated, touting the idea of a regional franchise. He suggested that North Carolina would be the perfect place for such a team, pointing out that there were three major arenas in the state. Jim Gardner, a Rocky Mount businessman, saw the article and liked the idea. He put together a consortium to buy an ABA expansion franchise. But the struggling Houston team came on the market, so they bought that tea, moved to Carolina, and fired every player and coach on gthe team. Gardner's group made it a true local team -- the starting guards were Gene Littles and Bob Verga (Ted "Hound Dog" McClain was a sub), the forwards were the UNC duo of Larry Miller and Bill Bunting ... the center was the only non Carolina product, George Peeples. Bones McKinney coached that first Carolina team to the playoffs as Verga earned first-team All-ABA honors and Miller was a second-team pick. Carolina split its home games between the Greensboro Coliseum, the old Charlotte Coliseum (the round one on Independence Blvd.) and Dorton Arena in Raleigh (they couldn't get Reynolds Coliseum). A year or so later, when they added Billy Cunningham and Joe Cardwell, the team adopted Greensboro as its only home.
    That Jim Gardner of who you speak was the founder of Hardee's. A very successful businessman. He also ran for Governor as a a Republican in 1968.

  7. #7
    Which AARP plan do you guys recommend?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
    Which AARP plan do you guys recommend?
    You youngsters may look forward to living for more years and having more memories to savor, more performances to recall and more aches and pains to suffer.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    You youngsters may look forward to living for more years and having more memories to savor, more performances to recall and more aches and pains to suffer.
    Which makes me wise to ask...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey
    Which AARP plan do you guys recommend?
    I already have a great pill dispenser. I picked it up at one of Jerry Garcia's estate sales.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    It's all conjecture, of course, Olympicfan, as the two teams (HP and UNC did not play each other) but I saw the Panthers play twice that year, and they were very good. Legendary sportscaster Charlie Harville called them the best team in the Carolinas, bar none. As for the three losses, upsets can happen to anybody. I talked to my brother today, and he and his friend attended the All Star Game in Greensboro with a group from the Boys Club of High Point. I was wrong about the final score, the NAIA team won by 12, not 18 as I said, but had a 20 point lead through most of the second half..And three Panthers started for the NAIA team..But, like I said, it's all opinion at this point.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    That Jim Gardner of who you speak was the founder of Hardee's. A very successful businessman. He also ran for Governor as a a Republican in 1968.
    Wilbur Hardee founded the eponymous Hardee's in Greenville NC. Gardner was the first franchisee. Wilbur had two restaurants in Greenville as I recall when Gardner purchased a franchise.

    Gardner and his group did later buy Hardee out. Certainly Gardner's group was responsible for the company's rapid growth.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
    Which AARP plan do you guys recommend?
    I personally go with Prune Level, which is top of the line...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    I strongly agree with Olympic Fan. There's no way in the world that the 1969 High Point team would have been even remotely competitive against a top-tier NCAA team. Yes, Gene Littles was an ACC-level talent. But that's it.

    And that North Carolina team beat Davidson--Mike Maloy, Doug Cook, Jerry Kroll--on a Charlie Scott buzzer-beater, one of the four times Lefty made it to the Elite Eight but came up short. Wake Forest had Charlie Davis and Gil McGregor, Duke had Randy Denton and Dick DeVenzio, NC State had Van Williford and Joe Serdich. All of these teams had more talent than even the best NAIA teams.

    At best, High Point was the sixth best team in the state.

    IMO.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    I personally go with Prune Level, which is top of the line...
    Sounds pricey!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by jimsumner View Post
    I strongly agree with Olympic Fan. There's no way in the world that the 1969 High Point team would have been even remotely competitive against a top-tier NCAA team. Yes, Gene Littles was an ACC-level talent. But that's it.

    And that North Carolina team beat Davidson--Mike Maloy, Doug Cook, Jerry Kroll--on a Charlie Scott buzzer-beater, one of the four times Lefty made it to the Elite Eight but came up short. Wake Forest had Charlie Davis and Gil McGregor, Duke had Randy Denton and Dick DeVenzio, NC State had Van Williford and Joe Serdich. All of these teams had more talent than even the best NAIA teams.

    At best, High Point was the sixth best team in the state.

    IMO.
    We are all entitled to our opinion. Many that saw that team would disagree, but it is what it is. People that saw the High Point led NAIA All Stars wouldn't believe they had a shot either against ACC players. But they did, and laid a quality butt kicking on the invincible ACC..Lol. And Gil McGregor and other stars were on the team, however, my brother did say just now there were no Duke or UNC players on the ACC squad. Regardless, the NAIA kicked their butts, and that's a fact.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Devilwin View Post
    We are all entitled to our opinion. Many that saw that team would disagree, but it is what it is. People that saw the High Point led NAIA All Stars wouldn't believe they had a shot either against ACC players. But they did, and laid a quality butt kicking on the invincible ACC..Lol. And Gil McGregor and other stars were on the team, however, my brother did say just now there were no Duke or UNC players on the ACC squad. Regardless, the NAIA kicked their butts, and that's a fact.
    Basing your opinion on a benefit all star game - realize college baseball teams sometimes best MLB teams in spring training. I doubt ACC stars were inspired for the game. IMHO

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by arnie View Post
    Basing your opinion on a benefit all star game - realize college baseball teams sometimes best MLB teams in spring training. I doubt ACC stars were inspired for the game. IMHO
    Could be. But who is to say? Maybe the NAIA was goofing around? No big deal, but I can promise you that team could give an ACC school a run for their money.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by dball View Post
    Wilbur Hardee founded the eponymous Hardee's in Greenville NC. Gardner was the first franchisee. Wilbur had two restaurants in Greenville as I recall when Gardner purchased a franchise.

    Gardner and his group did later buy Hardee out. Certainly Gardner's group was responsible for the company's rapid growth.
    I'll stand corrected but further state that Jim's group founded the Chain which is the significant step. There used to be Ray's and Chip's and many others. They were swallowed by the survivors.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Devilwin View Post
    We are all entitled to our opinion. Many that saw that team would disagree, but it is what it is. People that saw the High Point led NAIA All Stars wouldn't believe they had a shot either against ACC players. But they did, and laid a quality butt kicking on the invincible ACC..Lol. And Gil McGregor and other stars were on the team, however, my brother did say just now there were no Duke or UNC players on the ACC squad. Regardless, the NAIA kicked their butts, and that's a fact.
    Yeah and some people think Godfather III was the best of the Godfather movies ... everybody is entitled to an opinion, but that doesn't make all opinions right.

    I covered the Carolinas Conference in 1969 when I wrote for the Burlington Times News. Elon (with a wonderful guard named Tommy Cole) was in that league. It was a fun conference, although down a bit from 1968. Littles was only the second best player in the league that year -- Catawba's Dwight Durante was at another level (his duels with Henry Logan, which ended in 1968, were the stuff of legends).

    But with such stars, there was no way that High Point (or anybody else in that conference) were close to even the mid-level ACC schools.

    As for that all-star game you set so much stock in, players in that era always played a series of postseason "all-star" games during that era -- after they completed their college eligibility. Those were like pickup games with fans. There were no coaches and nobody took them seriously.

    As you say, no Duke or UNC players were in the game you cite ... and you are wrong that Gil McGregor participated --he was a sophomore in 1969. He couldn't play in those all-star games until after his senior season in 1971. Your NAIA all-stars beat a bunch of Big Four scrubs -- no Charlie Scott, no Charlie Davis, no Van Williford, no Gil McGregor, no Randy Denton. I'm sorry, but to try and use that to justify claiming High Point was the best team in the state ... that's a weak argument.

    It was a fine small college team with a pro guard on the roster, but there were a number of NAIA teams from that era that were similar or better -- Guilford (with future pro big man Bob Kauffman) and Winston-Salem State (with Earl "The Pearl" Monroe) each won NAIA national titles. Western Carolina with Henry Logan and Catwaba with Dwight Durante were very similar teams to Gene Littles and High Point.\\None of them could have played with the best Big Four teams of that era.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    Yeah and some people think Godfather III was the best of the Godfather movies ... everybody is entitled to an opinion, but that doesn't make all opinions right.

    I covered the Carolinas Conference in 1969 when I wrote for the Burlington Times News. Elon (with a wonderful guard named Tommy Cole) was in that league. It was a fun conference, although down a bit from 1968. Littles was only the second best player in the league that year -- Catawba's Dwight Durante was at another level (his duels with Henry Logan, which ended in 1968, were the stuff of legends).

    But with such stars, there was no way that High Point (or anybody else in that conference) were close to even the mid-level ACC schools.

    As for that all-star game you set so much stock in, players in that era always played a series of postseason "all-star" games during that era -- after they completed their college eligibility. Those were like pickup games with fans. There were no coaches and nobody took them seriously.

    As you say, no Duke or UNC players were in the game you cite ... and you are wrong that Gil McGregor participated --he was a sophomore in 1969. He couldn't play in those all-star games until after his senior season in 1971. Your NAIA all-stars beat a bunch of Big Four scrubs -- no Charlie Scott, no Charlie Davis, no Van Williford, no Gil McGregor, no Randy Denton. I'm sorry, but to try and use that to justify claiming High Point was the best team in the state ... that's a weak argument.

    It was a fine small college team with a pro guard on the roster, but there were a number of NAIA teams from that era that were similar or better -- Guilford (with future pro big man Bob Kauffman) and Winston-Salem State (with Earl "The Pearl" Monroe) each won NAIA national titles. Western Carolina with Henry Logan and Catwaba with Dwight Durante were very similar teams to Gene Littles and High Point.\\None of them could have played with the best Big Four teams of that era.
    Excuse me, but unless my brother is lying, he said he got McGregor's autograph. And Mike isn't prone to lying.

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