The Louie and Bouie Show - Part 4 |

The Louie and Bouie Show - Part 4


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011

I was taking the bus to work with my friend Ray, who also worked downtown. I had bought Street and Smith’s preview for the 1979-80 season and turned it to page 152 to read about SU. There was a picture of Rosey Bouie calling for the ball with the caption “Syracuse should rise or fall in the Big East, depending on Roosevelt Bouie.” Ray looked at it, stuck a finger at Rosey’s picture and said “This guy’s got to get it going this year!”

Bouie already had it going and so did Louie. After averaging 10.9ppg with 54.3% shooting and 10.5/52.9 his first two years, he averaged 15.2/63.1 as a junior and would average 16.1/65.4 as a sophomore. His rebounding was never really high but it was consistent: 8.1, 8.8, 8.6, 8.1. His blocked shots actually declined from 3.0/3.0 to 2.7/2.4 in his last two years. I think part of that is like an NFL cornerback’s interceptions or an MLB outfielder’s assists declining because players were less willing to test them and part of it is Rosey learning that he doesn’t have to try to block everything and looking for situations where he could turn a block into a pass to a teammate. Bizarrely, his free throw shooting was 83.6% as a freshman but only 59.7/63.1/65.4 after that.

It was Louis Orr, who S&S said was up to “195 pounds, 40 pounds heavier than when he arrived” [If Louis ever saw 195 on a scale, someone else was standing on it], who was ready to make a big step up. His scoring would rise from 9.4/1.8/13.2 to 16.0 as a senior, his rebounding from 6.5/7.8/7.7 to 8.5 and his assists from 1.7/1.3/2.3 to 3.5. Orr’s versatility would culminate in one of the greatest individual games an SU player has ever had against St. John’s. Together, Louie and Bouie would get us 32 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists and three blocks a game, (I don’t have steals). And they would lead SU to the highest national ranking they’d achieved to date and their first #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Orr: “That might have been my favorite year. That team wasn’t the most talented I played on.” [Debatable] “But we had good chemistry. We played well together.”

They had plenty of help. Dale Shackleford had graduated as SU#3 all-time leading scorer to this point but he was the only senior on the ’79 team who had played substantially. The Cohenheadds were back but Eddie Moss would get more and more play. Danny Schayes was still a deluxe back-up center. And Jim Boeheim had recruited a couple of excellent freshmen. The big name was 6-5 Tony “Red” Bruin, one of the top players in New York City, an athlete who could jump out of the gym. The lesser name -but the better basketball player- was 6-4 Eric Santifer, Ann Arbor Michigan, (Dave Bing territory). He could make spectacular plays, (I still remember him trading dunks with Clyde Drexler in the ’82 Houston game), but Eric made more of them. Leo Rautins: “Red was the kind of player who wanted to be driven to the gym.”

But there was an even better player on campus that could have pushed this team over the top and enabled them to cut down the nets. Two things this team was short on were outside shooting and inside passing – feeding the post and the baseline. It allowed other teams to collapse their defense inward and play the passing lanes. The two-word answer to that? Leo Rautins. Leo, 6-8, was from Toronto, the younger brother of former Niagara star George Rautins. Leo was a dead-eye outside shooter, a good rebounder and the best passer we have ever had. He could rocket passes past defenders, threading the needle to get the ball to big men under the basket or someone working the baseline. A front line of Louie, Bouie and Leo would have been incredible. SU wanted that to happen but Leo decided he’d rather go to the University of Minnesota, for whom he played in 1978-79, scoring 8.3/4.1/3.9 in a reserve role. He might have pushed the 1978-79 SU team over the top and as a sophomore in 1979-80, he surely would have. But, after transferring here, he had to sit out that season and instead played his last three years from 1980-81 to 1982-83 as the star of those teams, whose great weakness, (in the latter two years) was the lack of a real center.

This group would face some significant challenges. Jim Boeheim said “Our schedule’s been too weak to get us to where we wanted to be at the end.” This was alleviated by adding a national TV game at Purdue on January 13th featuring one of the top big men in the country: 7-1 Joe Barry Carroll, and the creation of the Big East Conference, which initially consisted of seven teams: Boston College, Connecticut, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Syracuse. For that first year, each team would play the other six teams once. Then there would be a conference tournament at the Providence Civic Center. The second year, there would be a double round-robin, home and home, followed by a tournament at the brand new Carrier Dome.

Street and Smiths has some interesting tidbits about how this conference came about. There already was a conference designed to bring together the best basketball schools in the East. It was called the “Eastern Eight” and contained Duquesne, George Washington, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia. Some of those best eastern basketball schools had been reluctant to join, including Syracuse, who didn’t want to antagonize Penn State. Eventually, Villanova and then Pittsburgh would be persuaded to join the newer conference, getting us to 9 teams and a 16 game season. That’s when the Big East was the BIG EAST, before football began to destroy it. The Eastern 8 didn’t fade out of existence. It’s now called the Atlantic 10, a very different conference, (as is the Big East: the only thing that doesn’t change is that things change).

The new conference came together because of an NCAA ruling that each ECAC team under the old system had to play every team in it’s region to qualify for an automatic NCAA bid if they won the region. There were four regions. Ours was “Upstate”, meaning Upstate New York. We’d been playing upstate teams regularly for ages so that wouldn’t have been a problem except we had ambitions of being a national power and had come to dominate ‘Upstate’ in the Louie and Bouie era. It was cozy and the rivalries were fun but we wanted more. So did the other Big East schools. By creating the new conference, the schools could seek an auto bid for their conference champion while competing at a higher level than their traditional local rivals.

JB, from “Bleeding Orange”: “Dave Gavitt, the athletic director at Providence College, was thinking about something else. Something Big…Dave was a Big Thinker and Dave thought that basketball in the East was getting the short end of the stick in terms of attention and NCAA bids… Dave wanted the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that would eventually go to the conference champion and knew that several other teams in a strong conference would invariably get at-large bids. He saw the allure of the Boston-New York-Washington television market and he thought he could get a fledgling TV network interested in broadcasting our games, a humble operation that went by four little letters that was just getting off the ground in Bristol, Connecticut….Dave knew that would be critical in the long run, that programs would be built because of the television exposure.”

The new conference had a huge amplifier already hooked up. A man named Bill Rasmussen had been fired from his job as communications director of the New England Whalers of the World Hockey League. With his son Scott, and an eye doctor and insurance agent named Ed Eagan and Bob Beyus, owner of a video production company to create a cable network that would cover sports in the state of Connecticut and broadcast only in that area. They needed a satellite to use to broadcast their shows and found RCA had one that could accommodate them but that that satellite was cheaper to rent for 24 hours and it could broadcast across the country. “With a wider audience to appeal to, they began to retool their original concept, and on August 16, 1978, both father and son agreed that the channel would show all types of sports 24 hours a day, have a half-hour sports show every night, hire sportscasters and buy a fleet of trucks to travel across the nation covering various sporting events.” They decided to name it the ‘Entertainment and Sports Network”, or ESPN, and one the most popular items in the early days of “The World-Wide Leader” was Big East Basketball.
History of ESPN - Wikipedia

Jim, typically, was initially against everything. “Coaches like comfort. When you have a winning program like we did at the time, you want to hold on to it, because you get evaluated by winning, not by leaping into the great unknown. You throw a coach a Big Idea and he cringes, unless he can figure out how it adds up to wins. That’s why you don’t let coaches make all the decisions.”

The greatest of the Louie and Bouie teams came out like a house afire and burned so brightly through the regular season that we could be seen from sea to shining sea. They were five points away from running the table to a perfect 26-0 record, (that was the limit on regular season games at that time).
The appetizer was wins over Cornell, St. Francis (Pa) and Lemoyne by 31, 33, and 46 points. (We would wind up second in the country in scoring margin to Alcorn State at 15.4 points per game and 5th in scoring at 85.8ppg).

Then came our first challenge. Illinois State had a sneaky strong program in the late 70’s: 106-37 from 1976-80. Their coach was Bob Donewald, who learned his basketball as Bobby Knight’s assistant when the Hoosiers went 63-1 from 1975-76. They had a 7 foot center named Joe Gavin (11.6 Pts, 6.3 Reb) and a 6-8 forward named Del Yarborough (14.0 Pts, 7.9 Reb) to do battle with Rosey and Louis and 6-5 Ron Jones (17.5 Pts, 3.9 Reb, 4.0 Ast). They were what we would now call a “good mid-major”.

I was unable to find an article on the game, (this was a Saturday game - Newspaper doesn’t seem to have the Sunday Herald-American for these years). My recollection of it was that it was close all the way and things got more and more nervous as it became apparent that we couldn’t pull away. I remember going to the cellar with my transistor radio and taking my old exercise bike for a spin to work off nervous energy and maybe psychologically transport some of it to the team. It wound up in overtime and we barely pulled it out, 72-70, thanks mostly to Rosie who had 22 points and 12 rebounds, per Orangehoops.

Having dodged that bullet, the team resumed pounding out the wins Penn State (85-72) and Pittsburgh (73-66) offered some resistance. Louis took over the scoring burden with 33 points in those games. The “Rochester Classic” gave us a second shot at Cornell, (99-64: Bruin led in scoring in both Cornell games with a total of 35 points), and a game against Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team. Rollie had replaced Jack Kraft in 1973 and had a rough early ride, going 16-37 in his first two years. Then came 16-11 two straight 23 win years, making it to the Elite 8 in 1978. They sagged to 13-13 in 1978-79 but would be back at 23-8 in this season. It was another Saturday game and we played them again in the NCAA tournament and that’s the SU-Villanova game from this year I remember the most. The Orange won this first one, 92-84. Orr had 24 points and Moss 11 assists.

Then came a 6-games-in-12-days grind. It started by crushing Canisius 81-49 and Seton Hall 99-76. Orr had 15 points and Cohen 10 assists in the first while Rosey had a double double with 19/15 in the second. Then came a dicey assignment at West Virginia, coached by Gale Catlett. Jim had his first loss as a head coach there in 1976, 78-83 and won there by a point in ’78, (74-73). Catlett had a top guard in 6-1 Lowes Moore (16.4 Pts, 4.1 Reb, 4.4 Ast). He had a good backcourt mate in 6-2 Joe Fryz (10.7 Pts, 1.6 Reb, 3.1 Ast) and a solid forward in 6-8 Greg Nance (12.8 Pts, 7.6 Reb, 1.0 Ast).

This one was an uphill climb all the way. The Mountaineers led 41-37 at halftime and extended that lead to 60-51 with 13:59 left in the game behind the play of Moore and Nance. Then Louis Orr, who had scored only two points in the first half, “took control over SU’s disoriented offense “. The Orange managed to tie the game at 66 with 5:05 left. Catlett: “I was disappointed that they cut the lead so quickly. We stopped running the fast break. We got scared…You have a tendency to force things and get very tentative against a Top 10 team.” Marty Headd and Rosey Bouie scored to give the visitors a 70-67 lead with 3:05 left. Nance hit two free throws while Eric Santifer missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:15 left. Nance got a good look in the lane with 43 seconds left. Another failed one-and-one from Eddie Moss gave Moore a chance from 20 feet but the missed The Mountaineers wound up with the rebound and Headd committed a foul but Noah Moore, (no apparent relation), couldn’t convert, either. A couple of free throws closed it out at 72-69.

It was great defense from the Syracuse point of view, (we gave up 9 points in the last 13:59), and pretty much of a choke job to the home team’s fans. JB: “I told Louis at halftime to shut Nance down and he took control of him. With Moore, we were just hoping to play him well enough that he’d have to give the ball off to someone else….My biggest concern was that we didn’t rebound well again tonight. I wish I could put my finger on the problem but I can’t.” It may be related to the fact that we’d lost first 6-7 Marty Byrnes and the 6-6 Dale Shackleford and replaced them with 6-5 Tony Bruin and 6-4 Erich Santifer, both of whom would become fine players but not be as much of a force on the boards as their predecessors. SU was out-rebounded in this game 29-34. Bouie scored 22 points, including 10/14 from the line but had only 4 rebs. Orr scored 12 and had 3 assists but just 1 rebound. Headd and Santifer tied Rosey with 4 rebs. Marty sure could shoot but if he’s tied for your team’s rebounding lead, you didn’t really get after it. Freshman Erich scored 17 and Headd 12 points. Moore had 23 points, Fryz 12 and Nance had 19 points and 9 rebs.

Then came a seminal game in SU history: a nationally televised regular season game – on a Sunday - on NBC with their famous team of Dick Enberg and Al McGuire, (they would later join Billy Packer on CBS). The game was against Purdue in their place. We were ranked #5 in the country. They were #10 but still thought of as a more established program and the favorite to win the game. Their star was 7-1 230 Joe Barry Carroll (22.3p 9.8r 2.8b), who McGuire kept calling “Joe B”. Beside him were two 6-7 forwards, Arnette Hallman, (8.8 Pts, 5.9 Reb) and Mike Scearce (5.4 Pts, 3.1 Reb) and two 6-5 guards, Drake Morris (11.1 Pts, 4.7 Reb) and Keith Edmundson (13.4 Pts, 4.1 Reb) with another, Kevin Stallings (2.2 Pts, 0.6 Reb) and veteran 6-2 point guard in Brian Walker, (3.7 Pts, 2.5 Reb). They were 10-2 having lost by a single point, (60-61), at #2 ranked Kentucky and by 9, (58-67), at #3 ranked Ohio State.

The game took place in the Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana, which had been constructed in 1967, with a capacity of 14,123. It was considered one of the loudest arenas in the country and was nearly twice the size of SU’s Manley Field House, where the SU players were used to playing. Purdue was 130-25 there since the place opened. Mike Smith, in the Post-Standard, reported “Syracuse was shaken by the pervasive tumult in Mackey Arena but not awed.” Hal Cohen: “It was a great experience with the bands and the fans and the TV. It reminded me of when we used to watch the UCLA-Notre Dame games.” Marty Headd: “I just couldn’t believe how loud it was when we went to the free throw line. But it was pretty exciting.” Jim Boeheim: “Tell me that Manley Field House is louder than this place. This is the loudest I’ve ever heard. Of course we’ve got some crazies working for us in our place. They didn’t have the crazies here.”

The big noise in the first half was provided by Joe B, who scored 18 points in leading the beloved home team to a 30-39 lead. JB: “Other than Walton or Jabbar, he’s the best I’ve ever seen. We weren’t helping Bouie at all in the first half. We let them get the ball where they wanted it too easily – usually to Carroll, in good position.” 14 first half turnovers didn’t help. Cohen: “When we got down by 9 at halftime, the team said to itself it had to come back and play to the best of its ability – and the team did it. Every player resolved in his mind that this was it, that whatever it was they did best, they were going to have to do it better than they had ever done it before. That’s the first time the coach has really gotten fired up at halftime. He had a few things to say to a few individuals.”

Smith in the PS: “Throughout much of the second half, and particularly during the maddening final minutes, it was the Orange’s defensive prowess which stifled All American center Joe Barry Carroll.” In addition, Eddie Moss made Brian Walker’s life miserable, forcing him into 10 turnovers. “Dutifully aroused, SU responded with a surge at the outset of the second half and soon claimed an advantage despite a technical foul against Boeheim, who lost his composure after Headd was unintentionally knocked to the floor by Drake Morris on a lay-up attempt. Orr, who had been limited to only two points in the first half and exhibited little of the resourcefulness which normally graces his game, gave the Orangemen a 41-40 lead at 14:32 when he twice rebounded his misses before converting a lay-up.” JB: “When Louis kept going up and going up and going up until he got to the basket, that’s when I knew we were going to win the game.”

But we hadn’t won it yet. Purdue went on an 0-8 run to take their biggest lead at 46-56. “But Bouie’s block of a Carroll attempt and two Purdue turnovers helped the Orange to move within 56-54 in less than two minutes….Bouie masterfully blocked a slam-dunk attempt by Carroll at 3:38 but after SU committed a turnover at 3:18, Carroll’s rebound basket at 3:18 gave the Boilermakers a 59-56 lead. When Headd mindlessly threw the ball away with 2:24 to play, it seemed Purdue would further substantiate the Big 10’s claim as the nation’s premiere conference.”

“SU trailed with 59-56 with 1:58 remaining in the game when Bouie made the block that incited the final Orange resurgence. Marty Headd’s lay-up attempt failed but when the Boilermakers rebounded, Louis Orr promptly stole the ball and scored to bring SU within one … Orr added two free throws at 1:34 for a 60-59 lead before Eddie Moss stole the ball from beleaguered Purdue guard Brian Walker and converted an uncontested lay-up at 1:17.” With Syracuse ahead 64-61, Moss made still another steal to close it out with 10 seconds left, 66-61.

“This one was for the skeptics back home; for the cynics who chastised the Syracuse basketball program for achieving luminous records against inferior Eastern opposition, for the critics who assailed Roosevelt Bouie and his teammates for their seeming inability to prevail in the prominent games of recent seasons” according to Smith, who, like many, doesn’t know the definition of a ‘cynic’:
“What is the difference between a cynic and a skeptic? A skeptic is someone who habitually doubts beliefs and claims presented as accepted by others, requiring strong evidence before accepting any belief or claim while cynic is a person who believes that all people are motivated by selfishness.”

Purdue coach Lee Rose was impressed: “Syracuse simply did not lose its poise and that often happens on the road when you’re down. I’ve seen few teams that play with such resolve.” Walker was also impressed, sort of: “I don’t think there’s much question that we have superior talent but that apparently meant nothing to them. Each time I was sure we’d put them away, they’d come at us again. It was amazing…I’ve got to get us into position to score and Moss wouldn’t let me do it. He is one of the best I’ve gone against. He was the difference in the end.”

JB: We felt we had to pressure them and disrupt them to beat them and the players responded. That’s the thing with this team – I don’t think it’s the best we’ve had here in the last three years but whatever the situation calls for, they always respond. During the first half, we let Purdue get the ball where it wanted it too easily. But we stayed after the ball, especially Eddie, who did a fantastic job disrupting them. That pressure made the difference in the game.”

Smith: “Carroll finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds but was lethargic through the second half and tentative with his inside maneuvers. Bouie was limited to only 4 rebounds but finished with a team-high 17 points and was lauded as the game’s outstanding player by NBC. Orr finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Headd contributed 12 points and Moss had 11 points and 10 rebounds in perhaps the most notable performance of his career.” This was another game with what now would be regarded as obscene numbers of turnovers. SU had 27, Purdue 26. Smith’s articles says that SU was ‘cited for an inordinate number of traveling violations.

This game is remembered for Bouie’s dramatic block of a supposedly unblockable Carroll jumpshot – and for Al McGuire going nuts in response to it: “Rosie!!!”. But it should also be remembered as the greatest game Fast Eddie Moss ever played. Moss: “The whole build-up was Bouie and Carroll but it came down to a matter of team vs. team. No individual ever decided this game and that what has put us where we are right now. It was a big win because it came against a ranked team on national television but it was also big because we realized we’ve got a lot of potential even bigger accomplishments.”

Bouie: “People talk a lot about Louis and myself but we’ve got some of the best supporting players in the country here. We had Dan Schayes come off the bench to get some big rebounds. We have Marty Headd hit the key shots. All these guys were as important as anybody. I think a lot of people will think this was a Bouie against Carroll game but they’ll miss the whole point. This was a great team win.”

Bouie’s block of a Carroll dunk attempt came “when he was on the verge of fouling out.” JB: “Danny Schayes made some of the biggest defensive plays. Every time Carroll turned around, Schayes was on top of him.” Smith: “Orr supplemented the efforts of SU’s 6-11 duo by severely curtailing the movements of Boilermakers forward Anette Hallman while Purdue guard Keith Edmundson endured a 5 for 18 shooting performance and offered minimal aid. The Boilermakers converted only 9 of 26 shots in the second half and attained only 40% for the game.” Boeheim: “Louis Orr is the heart and soul of this team and Bouie is the power player who’s got to be there for us.”

I remember being on such a natural high after this game and so imbued with excitement and energy that I had to go for a long walk, even though it was winter, just to work it off. It was that wonderful feeling fans can have of vicariously having proven to the world that we exist and we matter, the sort of feeling common to smaller cities and states who want their sports team to put them on the map. I call it “existential rooting”: we win, therefore we are! And, on January 13, 1980, we were, and everybody in the country knew it.

800 people were waiting for the team when they landed at Hancock airport, with banners and shouting “We’re #1!”. We weren’t yet- at 14-0 we would be ranked #3 in the next poll, behind #1 DePaul and Ohio State. But it was certainly a possibility if we kept winning. “It’s great”, said a smiling Jim Boeheim. “It’s been a great day.’ I thought it’d be too late for people to come out, especially with tomorrow a work day. But this is a great town.” Smith compared it to when the Beatles came to town. Rosey Bouie: “I thought I was going to die, there were so many people. They were pulling at my clothes and I couldn’t even see over the top of them.” (If he couldn’t see over the top of them…) Danny Schayes: “It’s a big thrill to know you that we have this kind of support. It’s a feeling you don’t get every day.” Red Bruin: “It’s my first time experiencing something like this. I knew things like this happened but living it is a whole new experience.“ Smith: Should the Orange continue to win, greetings of Sunday night’s nature may become commonplace If that happens, city fathers will need a bigger airport.”

Six days later the Orange were back at the airport, sans crowds, to board a plane and fly to Norfolk, Virginia to play Old Dominion. The Monarchs had just moved up from Division II for the 1976-77 season. They were the DII national champions in 1975 after finishing second in 1970. They ripped through their first Division I season 25-4 with wins over Mississippi State and Virginia but fell back with an 11-15 thud the next year but bounced back with 23-7, beating Virginia and Florida State and also Wagner and Clemson in the NIT, where they lost to Purdue 59-67 in the quarterfinals. For 1979-80, Coach Paul Webb was looking forward with more depth and size than he had had in his five year tenure. His star was 6-7 forward Ronnie Valentine (18.5 Pts, 8.7 Reb). He made quite a tandem with 6-5 Ronnie McAdoo, a cousin of Bob (14.4 Pts, 7.3 Reb). Between them was a talented freshman center, Mark West (4.8 Pts, 7.1 Reb). They had forged an 8-3 record with no really impressive victories but a 1 point loss to St. Joseph’s. They had lost by 21 to Virginia and 14 to Rhode Island. But a win over Syracuse could make their season, (which would end up 25-5). The Orange, after the big win at Purdue, were on cloud nine. It was the perfect trap game.

I found no article on the game but SI had this article, (accompanied by several color pictures not shown here) on the team that was published right after the ODU game:
Originally it was going to be a cover story about an undefeated team. But the Swimsuit issue intervened and it got bumped back a week. Here’s an interesting quote: “"You can't judge a team by what it does in the NCAAs," Boeheim argues. "Everybody loses. Every team but one." Jim added: “Sure we’re not unbeatable. But unlike before, we can match-up with anybody.” St. Bonaventure coach Jim Satalin: “I’ve seen DePaul, Notre Dame and Ohio State and the best team in the country is Syracuse.”

My memory of the game is that we led basically thought the game – literally, because the winning basket was scored after the clock had run out. ODU used the press throughout the game but Syracuse repeatedly beat it and had a double figure lead much of the time. The color man commented on how well we were handling it. But you have to maintain your focus for 40 minutes and it gets hard when you are tired. In the final 2-3 minutes, we had a 13-point lead evaporate, leading to the final sequence, in which the Monarchs missed a long shot and then two follow shots before Bobby Vaughn sunk a lay-up to win it for the home team, 68-67, prompting a court storming, which was rare in those days. Our 14-0 bubble had burst.

The end of this game is actually on You-Tube. Wave your cursor back and forth at the bottom of the screen to keep the You-Tube clock visible and see when the ball is caught in bounds, (between 18 and 19 seconds from the start of the clip) and note when the winning basket is scored. I have that at 29-30 seconds. There was no buzzer and no light surrounding the backboard but it certainly looks like the last shot should not have been allowed, which is what SU coaches and fans claimed at the time. Of course, we had only ourselves to blame. We had three guys under the basket – 6-10 Rosey Bouie, 6-11 Danny Schayes, and 6-8 Louis Orr and could get the ball. Orr led with 18 points while Bouie had 11 boards.

By the way, the play-by-play guy is the former “Voice of the Orange”, Bill O’Donnell, who preceded Joel Mareiness. Bill held that title, as well as being the sports anchor at NBC Channel 3 in Syracuse from 1953-66. He would have been at the Mike for Dave Bing’s and Jim Boeheim’s career, as well as Jim Brown’s, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little. I remember him finishing each sportscast by smiling at the screen and saying “Good Night Sport!” He left to become part of the Baltimore Orioles broadcasting team and announced their five pennants and two World Series wins from 1966-79. Unfortunately, Bill died of cancer in 1982 and missed their 1983 title. Good Night, Sport.

We dropped from 3rd to 6th in the country and struggled past a Detroit team, (now coached by Willie McCarter – Dick Vitale had begun his broadcast career at ESPN this season) who would go 14-13 this season, at home, 89-83. Bouie began quite a stretch, leading the team in scoring for four games in a row with 18, 26, 29 and 30 points, the most productive stretch of his career. Then came a trip to New Jersey to take on Rutgers, still coached by Tom Young but without the graduated James Bailey.

The Post Standard headline was “Orange Comeback Squeezes Rutgers”. Mike Smith wrote “Syracuse’s customary first-half lethargy induced another perplexing deficit… But Roosevelt Bouie and Louis Orr asserted their superiority in the second half, enabling the nationally-ranked Orange to survive Rutgers late surge to secure a 69-66 victory….Bouie converted 10 of his 14 shots and scored a team-high 26 points while Orr failed on only one of his 11 attempts and scored 20 points…SU’s senior co-captains scored 28 of the Orangemen’s 37 points during a second half which eventually conjured up visions of Saturday’s chaotic demise at Old Dominion.”

Rutgers, at 8-8 “a meek pretender to the level of proficiency enjoyed by previous Tom Young-coached teams, confounded the Orange throughout the first half” and pulled out to a 24-33 lead with 6:40 left in the first half, “behind the resourceful maneuvers of reserve guard Darius Griffin and constantly shifting defensive stances which reduced SU’s offense to a state of paralysis”. Young: But we began to play like we are: “young”. Griffin “hit the bottom of the rim on an uncontested slam-dunk attempt. It culminated several minutes of incompetence which allowed the “Orange to rally within 35-32 at halftime.”

Boeheim: “We didn’t come out with the intensity you need to have on the road, especially when you’re ranked, you’ve got to play with more intensity. They went right through our pressure and we weren’t rebounding. We can’t last when Rosey and Louis rebound like they did in the first half. We weren’t ready.” Griffin: “We can’t catch up against Syracuse. You’ve got to expect them to handle us. But they didn’t seem to want it and it gave us a great opportunity. We just didn’t know what to do with it.”

The Orange caught up when Roy Hinson’s goaltend gave us a 42-41 lead. Bouie and Orr scored 24 of the next 26 points for Syracuse and we were never behind again – but the game wasn’t over by a long shot.
It was 67-58 with 2:19 remaining. Daryl Strickland scored. Danny Schayes missed the front end of a one-and-one. Kelvin Troy and Strickland hit jumpers. Headd made one of two free throws. Bouie then fouled out and Hinson made two frees. Hal Cohen missed the front end of a one-and one with 14 seconds remaining and SU only up by 68-66. “But Rich Brunson lost the ball as the Knights advanced downcourt. Orr retrieved it and Mary Headd converted a free throw with one second remaining to ensure the Orangemen’s eight road success in nine attempts.”

Bouie had 26 points and 11 rebounds. Orr had 20 and 3 with 4 assists. Headd scored 10 more. Everybody else got 13 points but it was enough. We wound up on top on the boards 35-34. Strickland had 15 points, Griffin 12 and Troy 11 for the home team.

JB: “In the first half, we just couldn’t adjust to their changing defenses and couldn’t get the ball inside to Roosevelt. Give them some credit. They did a great job on us…It doesn’t matter who they’ve played, (Rutgers had lost to Cleveland State and LIU), we always expect a strong game from Rutgers…But we got the ball inside the second half – maybe we were more patient as a team or maybe their defense just didn’t do a good job. Roosevelt got his confidence and when they went back on him, Louie got it going. They made the difference. But when you lose a close one like we did the Old Dominion game, you’re obviously always thinking about it. But this team has played great in late-game situations all year. If it weren’t for those two minutes Saturday, we’d be undefeated.” He called this team “the best road team in Syracuse history”. Young called Bouie and Orr “money players who can alter a game”.

Now the team really began to roll through the infant Big East, beating Connecticut 99-89, (Bouie had 29p/16r), Temple 93-77, (Bouie had 30p, Moss 10a), Providence 89-69, (Orr had 26p/13r), and then Siena 99-64, (Rosey led with 19p). Three of those were in Manley Field House, extending the school’s home court winning streak to 56 games.

Game #57 would be against the school that had been their #1 rival though the Louie and Bouie era, Jimmy Satalin’s St. Bonaventure team. The Orange were now 20-1 and ranked #2 in the country behind DePaul, who was 19-0. SU played its best game of the year that night, crushing the Bonnies 105-80. I found no article on this game but Orangehoops says that. Both Rosey Bouie and Louis Orr had 19 points while Eddie Moss had 14 assists. Per Sports, Ron Payton scored 13 points, Orr had 10 rebounds and Bouie 7.

But what I remember most was that reports flowed in that DePaul was well behind their opponent that night, Dayton and SU fans went to bed hoping to wake up the next day, (a Sunday) and find out that, for the first time ever, the SU basketball team was ranked #1 in the nation. Unfortunately, DePaul rallied to beat the Flyers 65-63. The Blue Demons won another five games later that before being upset by Notre Dame. They were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by UCLA and wound up 26-2, the first of three straight years #1 ranked DePaul teams lost in the first round of the NCAAs. By the time the Irish knocked off Ray Meyers’ team, the Orange had lost again. We eventually had five different teams reach a #1 ranking but the first occasion wouldn’t be until the beginning of the 1987-88 season, (and that didn’t last long).

The St. Bonaventure rivalry started to fade at this point as they were not to be part of the Big East conference. We played them through 1987, losing only once. Coach Satalin moved on to Duquesne in 1982. We’ve played them 9 times since 1987 and won 8 of them.

Our next game was to be the last game ever played in Manley Field House, a place where we’d won 57 games in a row, the longest streak in the nation. The opponent was to be a new rival, Georgetown. The Hoyas, after a bumpy 11-5 start, had won 6 in a row and were 4-1 in the infant Big East to SU’s 3-0, (there were 7 members at this point: Boston College, Connecticut, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Syracuse and each played each other once in a six-game schedule, to be followed by a conference tournament in Providence). For the first time in 13 years, we had them in our place, making this John Thompson’s first visit to Syracuse.

JB in “Bleeding Orange” (although this sounds more like his ghost-writer, Jack McCallum): ”And, if there is a juncture where the past came crashing down and a bright future unfolded, (though we couldn’t see it at the time), it was the evening of February 12, 1980, our last game at Manley in the first season of the Big East, a conference that had not yet made a large footprint in the college basketball sand. Georgetown was the opponent. Of course it was….The seniors got introduced and the band played “Jesus Christ Superstar” when Bouie was announced.”

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR ( Superstar - Carl Anderson - 1973 ) HD

“It would turn out He was exactly Who we needed. If anyone involved in that final Manley game was being honest, he would admit that, yes, there was too much pressure, too much emotion, too many memories, too much desire to win.”

The Hoyas seemed duly intimidated by the #2 ranked Orange and Manley’s famous ‘Zoo” as they could not throw it in the ocean in the first half, being held to 16 points. But they weren’t too intimidated to play defense and held the home team to just 30 points, which meant they had hope, even if the Cuse seemed to be in control of the contest. They’d suffered through a 6 for 26 first half. JT: “One of the things I told the kids at halftime was that I thought that if we played good defense, got the same shots we got in the first half - and they dropped – we could win the ballgame.” In other words, you’ve got to make shots.

JB/McCallum in “Bleeding Orange”: “Still, on the force of our energy and talent, we’re up 38-23 with about 14 minutes left. If we could have held that lead, it would mean my seniors – Rosie, Louis and Hal Cohen – had never lost a home game in their entire careers. At one point, the crowd started singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in homage to Manley. Some in the crowd were already crying. It’s impossible to overestimate how much coaches hate premature celebrations. They almost always come back to bite you – as they did this night.”

SU was still in control at 38-23 with 14:05 left when the shots started dropping. Meanwhile, running our offense through the Hoya’s barbed-wire defense was becoming increasingly difficult. A 2-13 spurt made it 40-36 and it was anybody’s ball game. Marty Headd suddenly found the range and hit three jumpers, (no treys back then) to Hoya John Duren’s two to make it 46-40 with 6:15 left. Rosey Bouie banked in a turn-around jumper to push the lead to 8 with 5:20 to go, so we still had the inside track.

But Georgetown had one more rally. Eric ‘Sleepy’ Floyd hit a long jumper and forward Craig Shelton nailed a 10 footer to cut the deficit in half. Bouie made the first half of a 1 and 1 but then his Georgetown counterpart, Ed Spriggs, scored to make it 49-46. Headd missed the front end of a 1 and 1, (missed free throws are always part of our competitive tragedies) and Shelton hit two freebies and SU was really sweating at 49-48. Marty hit one of two but Spriggs scored again on a Bouie goaltend with 34 seconds left to tie it. Jim Boeheim called a time out but Eddie Moss got fouled by Floyd on the inbounds play and missed another front end of a 1 and 1. JT: “I have to be honest. No I didn’t tell Eric to foul him. I guess he’s smarter than the coach.”

There was no shot clock so Georgetown could play for the last shot. But Headd fouled Floyd with 5 seconds left. “I shouldn’t have reached in but he just put the ball out in front of me.” Sleepy woke up to make both shots. “I knew if I made them, we’d win” said Floyd, “who ignored a sea of waving arms and the deafening din to seal the Hoya triumph”. Sleepy: “The crowd didn’t affect me. I didn’t hear anything. I knew I could shoot and I did.” Headd on his misses: “I would like to have sunk them. But I didn’t. I just missed.”

“The Orange had a last-ditch shot to send the game into overtime but Orr’s forced shot from 25 feet hit the front of the rim.” Orr: “I was supposed to get the ball to Marty, but there wasn’t time.” Marty had missed 3 of 4 foul shots but was 7 for 12 from the field, trying to make the Hoyas pay for collapsing in on Bouie and was the only Orange double-figure scorer with 15 points. Craig Shelton was Georgetown’s only double figure guy with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Bouie got off only 6 shots but hit three of them and was 3 for 4 from the line for 9 points and 10 rebounds. Eddie Moss had 7 assists to go with 4 points and 3 rebounds. In fact SU had 14 assists to 3 for Georgetown, maybe because we were reduced to outside jumpers. Georgetown won the boards, but barely, 32-35. Georgetown made 10 of 14 free throws and 17 fouls called against Syracuse, who made 4 of 10 from 18 Georgetown fouls and that was decisive. We actually shot 50% (23/46) to their 37.5% (21/56) but they got off 10 more shots, which got them close enough to win it at the foul line.

Rick Burton wrote in the Post Standard: “At first, there was a stunned silence. A loss hadn’t been in the plans. It was uncalled for. It simply wasn’t supposed to happen. Down deep inside, folks knew a loss was possible, for the Hoyas came highly regarded. All the same, there was silence. Then slowly, the very same SU fans who have been criticized by opposing coaches as ‘bush’ and ‘second-rate’ stood and applauded their team. It was not the kind of roar they had used earlier when Floyd was shooting his game-winning foul shots. Those cheers had been close to deafening. Instead, as the teams trotted off the court, they applauded from the heart. They applauded the 57 winning performances Roosevelt Bouie, Louis Orr, Hal Cohen and company had given them. They applauded the second-ranked team in the country…Around SU’s deathly quiet locker room, a place that hadn’t tasted, [a home], defeat since February, 1976, the players dejectedly dealt with the loss. But no one cried.”

JB: “I think we all wanted to win this game a little too much. I’ve never seen us miss so many shots down the stretch like we did tonight. The second half, we just didn’t execute on offense and they contained Rosey well. We didn’t get him the ball enough.” That would become a theme the rest of the way as Georgetown and alter Iowa collapsed in on Rosey, daring us to beat them from outside. We badly needed another outside shooter and a guy who could pass to the low post. (Meanwhile Leo Rautins sat on the bench, waiting out his transfer year so he could be eligible to play.) JB again: One thing about sports is that you’re going to lose. The key is how you come back. Good teams come back.”

In “Slices of Orange: Great Games and performers in Syracuse University Sports History”, Sal Maiorona and Scott Pitoniak say: “SU sprinted to a 28-14 lead with four minutes remaining in the first half and Coach Jim Boeheim instructed his team to slow the pace down and begin milking the clock. The strategy worked for a while as, much to the delight of the 9,251 spectators, the Orangemen extended their lead to 16 points in the second half. But, thanks to some hot shooting by the Hoyas and some poor shooting by Syracuse, Georgetown gradually reduced the deficit, setting up a nail-biting finish. The visitors began fouling SU players in the final minutes in hopes of stopping the clock and the Orangemen failed to capitalize on the strategy, converting just 1 of 8 free throws.” The question I have about this account is: why would Jim have slowed the ball down late in the first half, with a two touchdown lead?”

JB from “Bleeding Orange”: “Later it would be written that I slowed down the pace after we got the double-digit lead. I don’t agree with that. There’s a natural tendency to play more cautiously when you’re way up, I suppose, but the big problem was that we started to miss free throws – a bunch of them down the stretch as Georgetown edged closer….It’s hard to describe my level of despair that night Seven years later, it would be worse when we lost an NCAA championship final we should have won against Indiana. But not much worse. Fifteen minutes after the game, there were still hundreds of fans sitting there, stunned, immobile. I was distraught and a little hoarse in the post-game press conference.”

John Thompson told reporters: “Syracuse is a great team, there’s no doubt about it. We’re just happy that, in an adverse situation we were able to win. There were a lot of distractions with them closing the gym. So many things, maybe they forgot about Georgetown.” Oh, and he said something else that made forgetting about Georgetown impossible: “MANLEY FIELD HOUSE IS OFFICALLY CLOSED!” SU’s greatest basketball rivalry was officially on.

JB in “Bleeding Orange”: “On the surface, it doesn’t sound like much of an insult. But you had to have been there. John took great joy in twisting the knife, and it wouldn’t be the last time he drew blood. The barb enraged our fan base. It felt as if John were stomping on all that proud history in our little old-school fortress. The words kept getting resurrected. Nobody ever forgot them.”

Bouie: “We were bummed because that was the last game at Manley and we wanted badly to close the place with a win. It was a real downer…They came into town and ruined our party. And then Coach Thompson made that statement. That just got people even more riled. From that point on, whenever he and his team came to town, the crowds really got on him. He became Bid, Bad John, the guy they loved to hate.”

Orr: “I was upset. I remember walking home in the snow. I remember walking to my apartment by myself. It was a tough loss”. Somehow, Louis and his teammates had to overcome their depression and take on the St. John’s Redmen, (now the Red Storm) on their home court in Jamaica, not in Madison Square Garden, (the series would shift to that venue until 1985). This was to be the site of Louis Orr’s greatest game.

This is another Saturday game, reported in the Sunday Paper, which doesn’t have. I remember it as a back-and-forth game which Syracuse pulled out by the skin of their teeth. Waters’ book says “In the final seconds, Cohen came up with a steal and fired a pass to Orr, who made the layup to put Syracuse ahead”. I have a memory of Louis finding his way between defenders to make the shot, which I recalled as a short jumper. Whatever, it was the winner and SU got a huge shot in the arm that we needed to get our spirits up. I knew Louis had had a very productive game but I didn’t know how productive until I read the paper the next day. He had 29 points and 17 rebounds. I remembered this as a triple-double but have not found anything to confirm that. He was at the height of his powers at this juncture, still skinny but a flash of lightning nobody could keep up with. To get those numbers and make the winning basket on top of it was the best game I could recall an Orange player playing.

Syracuse then closed out the regular season first by crushing another former upstate rival, Niagara 107-82. Orangehoops says freshman Erich Santifer had a big game with 20 points but Orr had another huge game on the boards with 15 rebounds as well as 16 points. Then they clinched a three-way tie with Georgetown and St. John’s for the first ever Big East Regular Season championship with a 85-77 win at Boston College behind Louis’ 23 points and Santifer’s 17. It was another 24-2 season, 5 points away from 26-0, with a #3 national ranking.

The ’Cuse went to Providence as the favorite to win the first Big East Conference Tournament title. Their first opponent was the Connecticut Huskies with their stars Corny Thompson (15.8 Pts, 9.3 Reb) and Mike McKay (16.7 Pts, 5.3 Reb). They were 18-8 and 3-3 in the conference. They’d beaten Boston College 79-68 in the first round. Georgetown beat Seton Hall and St. John’s beat Providence. (As the highest ranked of the three 5-1 teams, we got the sole bye.) Connecticut Coach Dom Perno said his team would be “going on emotion” to play Syracuse because “we’re kind of beat tonight. Syracuse is going to come in cool and rested. I thought we played well at Syracuse and were beaten by 10.”

Emotion wasn’t enough as the Orange blew their doors off, 92-61. “Syracuse came out smoking early in the first half, led by the game’s top scorer, 6-11 Roosevelt Bouie, who collected 15 points on 7 for 11 shooting from the field. SU ran off 10 points to the Huskies’ 2 on shots by Headd, forwards Ron Payton and Dan Schayes and a stuff by Bouie to take a 20-10 lead. By the end of the first half, the margin had been stretched to 48-26.” A 6-0 second half start “on a rebound shot by Louis Orr, a Headd to Eddie Moss fast break lay-up and another Bouie slam dunk”, ended any suspense, making it 54-26. The reserves eventually pushed the margin to 35 points. “The Louie and Bouie Show was never more evident as Orr picked up 3 of his team’s 22 assists on inside feeds to Bouie, each of which resulted in a dunk for two” Bouie had 15 points and 5 rebounds, Orr 11/4, Santifer 10/9 (impressive for a 6-4 player) and Moss 13 points with 5 assists. The Orange won the board battle 54-45 and the assist battle 22-10 because they won the shooting battle 48%-32%. Twelve different Orangemen scored, 37 points from the bench. McKay scored 12 and Thompson, who was playing with an injured back, scored 10 with 9 rebounds. It hardly mattered.

This set up a chance for vengeance against the Hoyas, who downed St. John’s 76-66. Louie Carnesecca pronounced the Hoyas “the hardest team going now”. (This was before the SU-UCONN game.) “We got behind early and we threw everything at them.” Georgetown forged a halftime lead of 39-32 and, like SU opened the second half with another 7 points in a row to take command of the game. Coach Thompson took advantage of the fact that Syracuse was #2 in the polls, (our Media Guide says we were #3 – it also has the wrong dates: the Connecticut game was 2/29, not 2/28 and the Georgetown game on 3/1, not 2/29), the Johnnies #9 and the Hoyas #20.JT: “I feel that we were better than we were ranked and that is definitely a luxury. You can tell the kids ‘Let’s go out and show ‘em”. Craig Shelton scored 21 and Sleepy Floyd 20 to lead the effort.

I was not able to find an article on this game. I do have the SU BB yearbook covering that season and it says Marty Headd had a big game with 23 points Orr had 16, Bouie 14 and Moss and Schayes had 10 each. But it wasn’t enough as the Hoyas beat Syracuse 81-87 for the first Big East championship, our fourth consecutive loss to the Thompson coached Hoyas, who had beaten our 1975 Final Four team 70-71 and beat JB’s teams in 1979, 58-66 and now twice in 1980, 50-52 and now 81-87. I have no specific recollections of the game, although I must have listened to it or watched it. All those early losses to the Hoyas seem to blend together in my mind. They knew how to intimidate and frustrate us on defense and could score enough on offense to win. The games were all close but there was an almost inevitable feeling that we were going to lose – and we did.

But we had to shake that off and get ready to play a new rival in the Villanova Wildcats, then a member of the Eastern 8 conference, an early attempt to bring together the top eastern basketball schools that came short of that but which now survives as the Atlantic 10. They were coached by a short rotund, excitable Italian named Rollie Massimino. They would join the Big East the next year. The Cats came in 23-7, having clawed Marquette in the first round, 77-59. The game was played in the Providence Civic Center and it was nearly a disaster for the Orange. The refs loved the music the whistles made and nearly fouled out all of our big men. Rosey Bouie was called for three fouls in the first four and a half minutes and fouled out with 6:22 left in the game, having played only 10 minutes and scored 2 points with 2 rebounds. Danny Schayes took over but he fouled out less than a minute after Bouie did. Louie Orr got his fourth foul with 11:56 left and then took a charge from Tom Sienkiewicz 23 second later and waited for the call. “If I had gone up for the block, (I knew) he was blowing the whistle so I knew that drawing the foul was the best chance I had.” He got the call and played those last 12 and a half minutes with 4 fouls. “I just tried to take up as much space in the middle as I could. I didn’t want to commit any dumb fouls.”

Fortunately, SU played so well in this game that it didn’t matter. Tony ‘Red’ Bruin: “Coach was in a real relaxed mood today. It was the most relaxed I’ve seen him during a game. He got us all loose on the bench and I guess today was one of the few days for me that it’s really been fun….Everybody was passing. I guess it was contagious and once if got going, it was a lot of fun. We all started looking for the open man and played better because of that.” When Bouie came out of the game, “the Orange steamed ahead, running the open offense it uses when Rosie’s out of the middle”.

They bolted to a 36-18 lead and were never headed after that. On one play Eddie Moss had an open lay-up but handled the ball to Schayes because “I figure he can do something more spectacular than I can. You know, if someone can get the crowd going, I’ll give it up. Hal Cohen “dropped off a nifty pass to (Erich) Santifer early in the game that allowed the talented forward to start the juices flowing”. Cohen: “I saw him on my left. I knew if I went up, I’d draw a defender and that would leave him open. So I just kind of left it hanging there for him and he did the rest.” Rick Burton, writing in the Post Standard, described it as a “flying slam”. I don’t have the halftime score but it was 52-37 when Danny hit a turn-around right after Bouie left with foul #4 early in the second half. It was 76-64 when Bouie and Schayes fouled out. “Still Syracuse played a wide-open offense, resorting to a three-guard, deliberate offense only at the 3:14 mark.” JB: “We didn’t want to stall against their pressure. We wanted to keep going to the basket and get the easy shot.” After the slow-down began, the Wildcats resorted to fouling and Hal Cohen, relieving his high school days, closed it out by making 8 free throws in a row. SU won easily, 97-83. They shot 61% from the field.

Santifer, a freshman had quite a game with 29 points, 19 of them in the second half when all the foul trouble came to roost, presaging his 29 performance in the 1981 NIT final where the refs also tried to foul out our line-up but forgot to whistle Erich, who got us into overtime where we lost, mostly due to his exhaustion after having carried the team through the second half. (It’s the reason I’d still like to win the NIT if we wind up back in it). Orr: “Erich played probably the best game I’ve ever seen him play”. He’s a very good freshman and all he has to do is play hard and things will work out for him.” Things sure worked out in this game, where he was 13 for 15 from the field. “I was playing with a lot of confidence, just out there, hustling.

JB: “It takes a closely called game to get your two centers out of there. I just hope we don’t have to face that again. The loss of Bouie put a tremendous defensive pressure on our ballclub. Offensively it opens the game up. I think offensively we’re as good, maybe better, against a man-for-man with Danny.” Rollie: “if anyone had told me that Roosevelt Bouie would get two points and Louis Orr would get 11 points and we wouldn’t be in the game, I’d have to say that something would be whacky.”

With that win, 35-year-old Jim Boeheim became the youngest college basketball coach ever to win 100 games, (against just 17 losses), games and the first to do it in his first four years. We were 26-3, ranked #6 and were the #1 seed. Even more interesting than that was what lay ahead: the Sweet 16, where unranked 21-8 Iowa, 8th ranked 23-6 Maryland, (who we still had never beaten after four losses to Lefty Driesell), and the 11/10th ranked 24-5 Georgetown Hoyas, who has also beaten us four times in a row. Our two nemeses would be playing each other in the other semi-final, so we’d only have to beat one of them to finally get the Louie and Bouie Show to the Final Four, a dream SU fans had had the entire four years. We’d been to our first Final Four in 1975 with a team that didn’t have the ability to win it. This team could do it!

Iowa had shared the Big Ten title with Magic Johnson’s Michigan State national champions and Joe B Carroll’s Purdue team in 1979. Purdue went on to win the NIT while the Hawkeyes were knocked off in the first round of the NCAA’s by Toledo and forgotten. Street and Smith’s projected them 4th in the Big Ten for 1980 behind Ohio State, Indiana and Purdue. And that’s where they finished, although tied with Minnesota at 10-8. They were 2-4 against ranked teams. Georgetown, the #3 seed, had scraped by Iona 74-71 while Maryland, the #2 seed had beaten Tennessee 86-75.

Lute Olson the Iowa Coach, (he would move on to Arizona in 1983), had an All-American guard in Ronnie Lester. But he tore up his knee in a December game and missed half the season. His backcourt mate, Kenny Arnold, broke his thumb but, with Lester out, he played with a cast on the thumb. Forward Bobby Hanson broke a bone in his left hand and his fellow forward suffered a knee injury The Hawkeyes had been 9-0 and ranked #10 when these injuries hit. They went with a 6 man rotation labeled “The Fabulous Few”, which gave then five double-figure scorers, led by Lester at 14.8. They had two good big men in 6-10 Steve Krafcisin and 6-11 Steve Waite. They were healing up and a more dangerous opponent than their record suggested. They’d opened by beat Virginia Commonwealth 86-72 and then topped North Carolina State, with its All-American guard, Hawkeye Whitney, 77-64 and now they awaited the Orange. The game would take place at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

The Post Standard headline on March 15, 1980 read “Orange Suffers Foul Night“. The refs once again had their whistles out. Rosey Bouie managed to play 18 minutes in this one but got only 3 rebounds. He did have a stunning night in the paint, however, going 7 for 8 against Iowa’s Big men to score 18 points. JB: “Roosevelt played as good as he had all year long.” Orr: “Rosey played a great game, when he was in there.” In his last 5 games, he’d averaged just 22 minutes a game due to foul trouble. Orr had one of his greatest games with 25 points on 12 for 17 shooting, 16 rebounds and 8 assists. All 25 of his points had come in the last 23 minutes of the game. Danny Schayes scored 10 points but had only two rebounds, (SU still won the boards, 37-31, but was out-shot 47%-53%, had 17 turnovers to 12 and were called for 28 fouls to 20.) Freshman Santifer had another good game with 14 points but his fellow freshman, Tony Bruin scored just two on 1 for 5 shooting. Two big problems: The Cohenheadds were 0 for 9 from the field. Marty was 0 for 7. “I had good shots. I wanted to get going in the second half. But I just kept hitting back iron.” JB: “Marty’s had a great year. He just didn’t make ‘em. It’s that simple. All year long, the guards were constant. But we certainly got nothing out them tonight.”

Iowa was 30 for 39 from the line, including their last 14 in a row, compared to 19 for 23 for SU, although some of that was desperation fouling at the end. The Hawkeyes got 9 points and 7 assists from Lester and had five other players in double figures, led by Vince Brookins with 21 and Greg Boyle with 18. Lester had been held to 5 for 17 from the field by a combination of his injury and Eddie Moss’s harassing defense.

A cold first half put SU behind the eight ball at 33-40, “the tenth time they’d trailed at intermission”, a strange stat for a team that was second in the country in victory margin with 15.4 points per game. Bob Snyder: “The Hawkeyes, while unbeaten outside the Big Ten, had seen four of their eight losses come as thew result of blown halftime leads.” The Orange, not wanting their season or the era to end, came out strong in the second half. “Following an opening basket by Vince Brookins” SU went on a 10-0 spurt and forged a 24-11 run that gave them a 57-51 lead with 8:25 left. Iowa’s 6-6 sophomore forward, Kevin Boyle: “We were playing stupid ball at that time. But we kept our character, our intensity, on defense. Usually, we break down.”

“But Boyle, punched in a rebound shot from inside to bring the Hawkeyes within four and SU freshman forward Santifer was called for charging with 7:43 remaining. Then the Hawkeyes’ All-American senior guard Ronnie Lester drove for a lay-up and, on the next play Orange freshman guard Tony Bruin was called for a reaching-in foul when the ball came back downcourt to put the Hawkeyes in the one-and-one. Orange coach Jim Boeheim jumped off the bench and was hit with a technical. Iowa’s 6-5 junior forward Vince Brookins tossed in the one-and-one and one of two technical foul shots to give the Hawkeyes a 58-57 lead and the Orange never caught up again. On the Iowa inbounds play, the Hawkeyes’ 6-10 junior center Steve Krafcisin took the ball to the hoop and gave his team a 60-57 lead.” The 0-9 spurt gave Iowa the lead and the momentum the rest of the way. Snyder comments that JB’s technical was ”nothing new to the Orange coach in the late stages of this season. Boeheim didn’t deserve the technical but neither should you even give an official a chance to quick whistle you.” Hal Cohen: It might have been the incentive for them. They could say: ‘We could win this game.’” Orr: “it was sort of bursting the bubble.”

JB: “I was talking to Tony Bruin on the technical foul - I told him not to reach - standing up talking to him the whole game. I’d been up 8, 10, 12 times doing the same thing the whole game. They never warned me. they never said ‘sit down’. They never said anything. I wasn’t’ out of the bench area. That was it.” Yes, it was. Snyder: “SU was only one down on two Bouie free throws, then a Bouie lay-up on an Orr feed, (62-61 with 6:04 left). Brookins and Arnold and Steve Wane extended the lead, mostly from the charity stripe.” Iowa closed the game on a 33-20 run to win going away 77-88, and the Louie and Bouie Era was over.

I found no mention of what I remember as the big factor in game down the stretch: I recall Jim Boeheim doing something he’s been urged to do many times since but has refused to do and maybe this game is why. I remember that we still had the lead and Jim decided to go to the full-court press, trying to extend the lead and decide the issue. But the Boeheim press in those days tended to involve having 4 players in the backcourt, trying to force a turnover and a single player, the center, at the other end of the court, defending the basket. I remember teams repeatedly breaking our press by simply looping the ball to midcourt and getting fast break after fast break, scoring and getting our center in foul trouble. A good full court press uses the full court, setting up traps along the way as players backpedal to keep the ball in front of them and eventually settle into their half-court defense. I recall Iowa taking and stretching the lead with these fast breaks until the situation became hopeless and we started fouling to put them on the line.

Georgetown had beaten Maryland 74-68 in the other semi-final. But they, too became the victim of the Hawkeyes in an exciting 81-80 final. I recall Lute Olson crowing about how nobody thought they could beat NC State or Syracuse or Georgetown but they did. That’s what happens when you win: you get to do the crowing. Like UNC Charlotte in 1977 and Pennsylvania in 1979, they were not supposed to win the regional we were in Like those teams they went onto the Final Four we sought and like those teams they came back from the Final 0-2, (as we did in 1975 – they finally got rid of the “National Third Place Game” a couple of years later).

In the locker room after the game, Hal Cohen told PS sports editor Frank Brieaddy, “We gave it our best shot and I think the younger players are going to benefit from this year because they played quite a bit. I see good things in the future for Syracuse.” Roosevelt Bouie: “I’ve been here ever since Coach Boeheim has been here, head coaching. He spent a lot of time with me personally and he made me the player that I am today. He gave me the right attitude so that I hope can continue to play and continue to get better. He gave me the attitude about working hard. Sure you feel a little pain but then you’ve got to work a little harder because then something comes along and you do well and you just feel so much better. I know he tried to instill that in the other players here. These guys are by no means losers now. These guys are going to come out and do their thing next year.” Louis Orr: “I feel good about the season but this has been a big disappointment to me. I wanted to play a little bit longer. This was my last season and I just felt like this was the team to go a little bit further than the rest. But it was a great year, just because of my teammates and the coaches and camaraderie of the whole team. It was a loose bunch of guys. We joked, kidded around had a lot of fun and went to business on the court and that’s all you could ask for. I love ‘em. And I think it was really a blessing for me. God looked out for me to be in an organization like Syracuse.”

From Scott Pitoniak’s “100 Things Syracuse Fans Should Know and Do before they Die”: “Orr was chosen five spots ahead of Bouie in the second round of the 1980 draft and spent eight productive years in the NBA with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. Bouie decided to forgo the NBA for a more lucrative basketball contract in Italy. He spent a decade there, becoming one the first big American stars of European basketball. His success there helped grow the sport of basketball throughout the continent and opened the door for numerous other Americans to play professionally overseas.”

Orr: “Roosevelt could have played 10, 12, 14 years in the NBA if he’d wanted to. He had good size. He was a defensive presence who could block shots and change games. He could rebound and he could get up and down the floor. Guys like that are commodities. And he looked after his body, too. Roosevelt was a professional. He was a character guy, someone you didn’t have to worry about doing the wrong thing. He would have come to work and done his job every day. But Europe was his niche and if you know Roosevelt, you know he’s going to do what’s comfortable for him.”

What was comfortable for him was a guaranteed $100,000 contract in Italy, along with a Mercedes and a three bedroom, two balcony flat on the shores of the Adriatic sea. He had been drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, who offered a non-guaranteed $65,000. Mike Waters: “Norm Sonjo, a member of Dallas’ front office, spoke to Bouie and unwittingly ended the negotiations.” Bouie: “He said ‘I know your childhood desire has been to play in the NBA.’ I knew right then, I was going to Italy. My childhood desire was to be a successful businessman. It told me he knew nothing about me.” It shows how we pigeon-hole athletes, thinking they are all alike and have no interests in life other than winning.

He didn’t spend much time wondering how well he might have done there. “It was a choice between a secure job and an insecure job. There’s an old saying that if you walk around looking backwards, you’ve either going to step on something or fall into something. And I’ve never been particularly interested in doing either of those. So I have always kept my eye on where I was going, not where I used to be…What people don’t know is that my dream growing up was to be a successful businessman. I wanted to get up, go to work, all dressed up and everything I touched would turn to gold. It just so happened that I also loved basketball…Italy was like a breath of fresh air. They wanted me. It thought that it’s important for me to play in a place like that.”

He wound up a multi-millionaire, thanks to several different business ventures. In the 1978-79 Syracuse Basketball Yearbook, Roosevelt is quoted as saying: “My major in speech communication is important to me because I feel lose much because of poor communication. I’m learning to speak up for myself and I’m gaining more confidence.” Mike Waters: “Unlike some of his teammates, Bouie was not a real basketball junkie. But he proved to be a quick study of the game’s fundamentals and principles. Bouie also took to Boeheim’s no-frills instructions.” Bouie: “He’d come up and say ‘Roosevelt, this is what I want you to do. What more could you ask? Here’s the coach telling you exactly what he wants you to do. It usually just involved work ethic.” Bernie Fine: “Roosevelt’s a very intelligent person he always worked very, very hard. He had his own idea of where he wanted to go and always worked very hard to get there…Roosevelt’s a small-town guy. He grew up in a small town. He’s very happy going fishing and just hanging out at the grocery store. He never drank. He doesn’t smoke. He’s just a very, very nice human being.”

There was a revival of the Louie and Bouie show after Louis’ NBA career had ended. He joined Rosie playing for Riunite in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, south of Milan. Bouie: “That was probably the most enjoyable time we ever spent together. We’d just go out to dinner after practice at this restaurant that belonged to one of our teammates…We’d sit down around seven O’Clock and we’d finish around midnight. We’d eat and then we’d talk about everything you could imagine.”

Orr: “We’re basically, mild mannered guys and our regard for each other has grown from the very first day we met at freshmen.” Bouie: “We were pretty much raised the same way. We’ve always been respectful of people, and that includes each other to this very day.” When Orr became a coach and eventually a head coach at Seton Hall, Bouie said “I’m not surprised. He’s great with kids. He’s a very caring person. And he understands the game. He always did. More than just knowing how to play, he understood the game and how to pass that knowledge on.”

When Louis Orr died on December 15, 2022, Jim Boeheim said “It’s a real hard one. It’s really difficult. He was really one of the best of all us. Louis Orr was the greatest man I've had the pleasure to know. He came into my life as my first recruit, became a fantastic coach and colleague—but most importantly, he became a dear friend. I will treasure our years together…He had the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever coached. He never backed down no matter how big, strong, physical people were. He battled guys weighing 220 or 230 pounds. He’d get knocked down and get up and just play. He was a very strong Christian. That was dominant with Louis throughout his life. He was the rare individual that made everybody better. It’s hard to find those people in coaching. It’s a competitive world, but he was one of those guys. I don’t think you can adequately describe him really. He was the best of all the players I’ve ever coached in terms of what he was.’’

SU Basketball's Jim Boeheim chokes up remembering Louis Orr

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