After the best rebounding game of his Creighton career, Ronnie Harrell Jr. got a message from Bluejays coach Greg McDermott that had to make his jaw drop.
Harrell, whose 15 rebounds were a key component on Creighton’s 100-89 victory over UCLA in the Hall of Fame Classic semifinal on Monday at Sprint Center, was told he didn’t quite approach the school record set by Paul Silas.
“I told Ronnie 23 more and he would have had Paul’s career high,” McDermott said.
That’s correct. Silas’ school record for rebounds in a game is 38 in a 1962 game.
The Bluejays did many other things well Monday. Marcus Foster, who played his first two seasons at Kansas State, poured in 23 points. Freshman Mitch Ballock from Eudora, Kan., went on scoring flurries in each half and finished with 22 points.
“Mitch was big for us,” Foster said.
Creighton bids to become the first three-time winner of the tournament when it faces Baylor or Wisconsin on Tuesday in a 9 p.m. tip. Perhaps the Jays can get Silas to hang around for another day.
On Sunday, Silas was one of eight inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, which is housed in the building connected to Sprint Center.
Silas, who went on to an NBA All-Star career and spent 12 years as a head coach in the league, may have been basketball’s original rebounding beast.
Others like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain came before him on the college scene and piled up numbers, but they were several inches taller than the 6-7 Silas, and nobody put up his numbers
During his three-year varsity career, Silas averaged 20.5 points and 21.6 rebounds. He has the top 22 rebounding games in school history.
All, Silas said, because he wanted it more.
“When I came to Creighton that’s what I wanted to do,” Slias said. “I also wanted to score more. But I didn’t shoot very well, but I could rebound.”
Silas always bodied up and he made offensive rebounding priority, something he doesn’t see much in today’s game at every level.
“Very, very seldom do you see teams (emphasize) offense rebounding,” Silas said. “I’ve talked to coaches about that now, but it just doesn’t happen.”
Silas went into the Hall with others with exceptional skill. Gonzaga guard John Stockton went on to become the NBA’s all-time assist leader.
Jay Williams was a scoring machine who helped Duke to the 2001 NCAA title. Purdue’s Rick Mount was one of the greatest perimeter shooters in the game’s history and led Purdue to the 1969 title game.
Indiana’s Scott May was one the college game’s greatest winners, leading the Hoosiers to a 32-0 record in 1976 and the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal that year.
Cleo Hill turned in an amazing career at Winston-Salem State, scoring 2,488 career points. In the same city, Tim Duncan had one of the greatest all-around college careers of the past quarter century, averaging 18.9 points and 14 points for Wake Forest from 1993-97.
Bo Ryan, who took the Badgers to two Final Fours and won four Division III championships at Wisconsin-Parkville, was the lone coach inducted.