This Week's Story

A basketball team and coach with smarts and heart.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

To the Final Game! part three

We were undefeated when we played Seattle. We had qualified for the NCAA tournament. Our season was 23 wins and 0 losses. Playing Seattle was the final game of the regular season. We lost and deserved to lose. I set a curfew for the players.

That night my guys snuck out with Bobby Joe. They returned at 3:00 A.M. and quickly learned they were busted. I woke them up at 4:30 A.M. On the plane trip our assistant coach and our trainer didn’t let them sleep. They were smart enough to shut up.

I remembered what a friend told me. He had played for my coach Mr. Iba at Oklahoma and knew the game. He told me “Don, you know those guys you have are something else. They play hard. You could win the whole ball of wax.”

I benched Bobby Joe for leading the Seattle partying out on town. The problem was our next game was in the NCAA tournament. I had to motivate Big Daddy D Lattin for the Oklahoma game. Moe, my assistant coach, and I convinced him that we were going to play against the Weasel, the greatest rebounder in the nation.

In the game Big Daddy got moving soon, getting twenty points and fifteen rebounds. We still were down. I noticed during time-out that Bobby Joe, though benched, was in the middle of the guys, grabbing them and giving advice based on how he had seen them playing. Seven minutes before halftime I put Bobby Joe into the game. We won the game.

More games followed. We went from regionals to national semi-finals, and on to the national championship to play the Kentucky Wildcats, Rupp’s Runts. They were expected to beat us. Coach Rupp privately said that no black team could beat him. Well, we were a black and white team. My guys weren’t intimidated with the trash talk.

I decided to start three guards. We knew very little about Kentucky’s strategies. They liked to run. We would get back on defense and use three guards to stop any break before the Runts could run. We went with a new line-up. No one in the crowd seemed to react to our having five black starters. It was an unwritten rule to not start with five black players.

I told Big Daddy Lattin to take the ball to the rim and dunk it on someone. “Dunk it like they ain’t never seen it dunked.” I knew Lattin could be intimidating with his 244 pounds, six feet and six inches, and his look. He did the dunk and Bobby Joe shocked the Runts’ great ball handler with two steals.

The game was not remarkable, just a game between two good teams. Afterwards every Kentucky player came and shook big Daddy’s hand. We earned the national NCAA title and flew home to El Paso. The runway was crowded with fans. It was wonderful to see.

This is Barbara Steiner. Join This Week’s Story for part three. Coach Haskins and his players talk about each other and how the championship game jolted American culture.

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