No junior college place like Hutch
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
When George Killian became the first director of the National Junior College Athletic Association, the organization was based in Huchinson, Kan. So was the national basketball tournament, since 1949.
When the national office moved to Grand Junction, Colo., in 1985, the NJCAA Division I tournament remained in Hutchison.
“Because of the support of the community,” Killian said. “It was something I would never do, leave Hutchinson, no way.”
Terps opened up NCAA Tournament
Tom McMillen played for a Maryland team that won 73 games in three seasons, won an NIT and reached the NCAA East Regional final. But his 1974 team that didn’t play in the postseason had the greatest influence on the game.
The 1974 Terps finished the season ranked fourth but didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament because they lost to North Carolina State in the finals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
“That game changed the rule,” McMillen said.
Indeed. The NCAA opened its tournament to teams that weren’t conference champions starting in 1975 — in large part because the Maryland team of McMillen, Len Elmore and John Lucas couldn’t play in 1974.
The Grambling teams of the mid-1950s, led by Bob Hopkins, were so good, Hopkins bowed his head before games.
“I’d pray for the teams we’d play because we were going to put 125 on them,” said Hopkins, who averaged 29.1 points in a career that ended in 1956. He once scored 72 in a game.
“We went 58 straight games over 100,” said Hopkins, who was coached by football legend Eddie Robinson during that time.
“Eddie Robinson was a record-setting freak,” Hopkins said.
Louisiana to LA
Sitting on a stage with Louisiana natives Elvin Hayes and Bob Hopkins, former UCLA All-America Marques Johnson remembered his roots.
“I’m an L.A. guy — Louisiana,” said Johnson, who was born in Natchitoches. “If you’re from Louisiana, it’s about playing good, sound, fundamental basketball.”
Johnson took his game to UCLA and became the winner of the first Wooden Award for national player of the year, in 1977.
The 2013 class is perhaps the most socially significant in the hall’s eight years. Not only did the hall welcome its first team — the 1963 Loyola Ramblers, which was the first to start as many as four African-Americans in an NCAA title game — it recognized individuals who helped knock down racial barriers.
George Raveling, who travels the world promoting basketball for Nike, was the first African-American coach in two conferences. He was first to serve on a coaching staff in the ACC when he joined Maryland in 1970.
A year later, Raveling moved to Washington State and became the first African-American head coach in the league then known as the Pac-8.
The greatest upset?
Rollie Massimino has more than 700 career victories. But he’ll never watch one in particular — his most famous —Villanova’s upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA Championship game.
“I still haven’t watched film of that game,” Massimino said. “I think we’re going to lose.”
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.