Our Black History Month celebration on the men and women that have and continue to shape the world of sports returns – we’ll be posting a few times each week, including this evening where we are honoring the Texas Western Miners men’s basketball team, which captured 1966 NCAA D-I Championship.
The Miners were a team many of us learned about in the 2006 movie Glory Road – coach Don Haskins started five African American players, who led the squad to an exciting (and very impressive!) 72-65 victory over the University ofKentucky.
The Wildcats entered the final contest of the 1965-66 school year as the favorite.
Let’s learn a bit more about the Miners, who represented Texas Western College, which is now the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
Texas Western started five African American players against a Kentucky program that did not integrate until the 1970-71 season. Tom Payne became the first African American to compete for coach Adolph Rupp. Payne would play just one season for the Blue and White before turning pro one year later where he spent one season with the Atlanta Hawks.
Prior to their 1966 NCAA Championship, the Miners made back-to-back appearances in the national postseason in 1963 and 1964. In 1964, they advanced to the the Sweet Sixteen, but lost to Kansas State. They did win, however, the Regional third place game against Creighton.
The Miners posted a 28-1 record during the 1965-66 season. Their only loss occurred at the end of the regular season against Seattle.
Following their end of season setback to the Red Hawks, Texas Western rattled off five-straight wins, including a pair of overtime victories against Cincinnati and Kansas. Their win over the Jayhawks – an 81-80 victory in double-overtime – secured Texas Western a spot in the national semifinals against Utah.
The 1965-66 Texas Western Miners squad featured seven African American student-athletes: Bobby Joe Hill, Orsten Artis, Willie Worsley, Willie Cager, Nevil Shed, Harry Flournoy, and David Lattin.
As many historians and sports writers noted, the Texas Western victory over Kentucky opened the door for even more African American student-athletes to play sports at the collegiate level, not just basketball, but also football, track, baseball, and others, according to Dan Wetzel.
Articles and Links on the 1966 Texas Western Miners:
Austin Butler‘s final basket – a free throw with four seconds remaining in the second half – helped the Holy Cross men’s basketball team secure its first win of the 2020-21 season with a 68-66 victory over Boston University.
Butler finished his team’s second contest of the season with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting to go with seven rebounds, two steals, and one block, while Gerrale Gates netted a game-high 19 points on 7 of 16 shooting.
As a team, the Crusaders converted 27 of 59 shots while the Terriers netted 24 of 65 buckets. BU held an advantage in field goals beyond the arc, sinking 7 of 26 attempts. Holy Cross converted just 6 of 18 trifectas as a team. The Terriers did win the battle of the boards, however, by finishing with 44 caroms, including 16 offensive rebounds.
Jack Hemphill led Boston University with 16 points off. the bench while Javante McCoy finished with 15 points.
The two teams will meet later this month for their second home-and-home series.
Both teams will return to the hardwood this Saturday, January with Holy Cross hosting Army for a 2 p.m. tip-off while Colgate will visit Boston University for a 6 p.m. start. All four teams make-up the Patriot League‘s North Division.
Daman Tate produced his first double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds to go with four steals and one assist as the Boston University men’s basketball team tipped-off its 2020-21 campaign with an 83-76 win over Holy Cross on Monday afternoon in Worcester.
The Terriers, who were picked to capture the Patriot League crown for the second-straight season, received 10 points and seven rebounds from Sukhmail Mathon, along with 17 points off the bench from Javante McCoy.Jack Hemphill provided 12 points off the bench to go with five rebounds, one steal, and one block.
Holy Cross led Boston University, 44-39, at the break, but the Terriers stormed back during the final 20 minutes, outscoring the hosts, 44-32.
Austin Butler paced the Crusaders with 24 points and eight rebounds while Gerrale Gates added 19 points and eight boards.
Let the countdown for March – well, more March Madness, to be exact – truly begin as the NCAA announced earlier today that 67 Division I men’s basketball teams will compete for a national championship in a bubble environment in Indiana.
“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember,” said Dan Gavitt, who is the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, via NPR.org.
Indeed this year’s big dace will be one to remember – in fact, it will certainly be something we can all look forward to after last year’s March Madness was canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The 2021 March Madness schedule is still being sorted out – at the moment, the bracket is scheduled to be released on Sunday, March 14 while the ‘Final Four’ and championship will take place on Saturday, April 3 and Monday, April 5, respectively. Additionally, the NCAA has not made an announcement about fans attending games, so it is a possibility as of this evening.
As for the women’s tournament, the semifinals and finals are scheduled to occur in San Antonio, Texas, but according to NCAA.com, the organization “begun preliminary talks” with both the city and “surrounding region” to identify other parts of the state that all 64 teams could play in to reduce concerns of contracting the virus.
The conference’s Council of Presidents have endorsed a plan for a league-only men’s and women’s basketball schedule with tip-off scheduled for Saturday, January 2, 2021. Yet, for the league to play games successfully this winter, each school must “conduct competition in ways that protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, staffs, and their communities.”
The league’s 2020-21 schedule will see a reduction in travel and overnight stays compared to previous seasons while none of conference’s institutions will be permitted to fly to games. Teams will compete more than twice against regional foes with the Patriot League splitting the conference into three regional mini-conferences.
“We have accomplished the first step in the planning process for the 2021 Patriot League men’s and women’s basketball season,” Lafayette College President Alison Byerly, who is the chair of the Council of Presidents, said in a statement. “The Council of Presidents places the highest value and priority on League competition and we believe this model offers the best opportunities for us to conduct a safe and successful League season.”
In addition to playing more regional games, the Patriot League will allow its members to compete in non-regional contests so each team can play a 16-game schedule.
The Unites States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy will be the only Patriot League teams allowed to play non-conference games. That decision has been approved by each academy’s Superintendent.
As of now, the league plans to sponsor an eight team postseason with both a men’s and women’s championship taking place during the second weekend of March.