“SEVEN LOSSES IN A ROW”: Entry #19 from “A history of the events of the Allentown College’s 1972-1973 B-ball season …

Posted on Feb 02, 2013


This CENTAUR SEASONS post was written 40 years ago.

PREVIOUS GAME: Centaurs 64, Spring Garden College 69, three days ago

NEXT GAME: at Messiah College, tomorrow night


Spring Garden: nip and tuck all the way. We were down by about 10 midway through the first half, when we slowly began to come back. I put in a tap that put us ahead, 28-27. They called timeout, and at the half they were ahead, 38-30.

The second half was pretty much the same thing. They came out, got up, 42-30, but we came back, to 61-60. We just couldn’t hold it. They scored nine-straight points and that was it, 69-64.

After the game, in a rather dingy locker room, Coach Sabota asked us if we were satisfied with ourselves. He obviously was. But the question arose: How can you be really satisfied if you play your best possible and still lose?

Yesterday we had practice as usual. The practice the day after a game coach always give us the team statistics and our individual stats. He then usually talks for a little while. About the game, about the upcoming. Tonight he also talked about satisfaction even after a loss.

Bobby Stormes asked how one could be satisfied after a loss. Well, that question launched us into an impromptu team meeting which lasted till almost 9 o’clock last night.

The obvious answer to Coach’s question was: Look at the Eastern game in December. And you’re right if that game is considered. We lost that game, 75-73, but in that game we gave everything we had right up to the final moment. Although Eastern controlled the game for much of the time, the last five minutes were a see-saw battle back + forth. After, though beaten, we could nonetheless sense a feeling of satisfaction and pride on a job well done.

Well, this question has arisen again – but not after our first loss, but after our seventh consecutive loss. Is it still possible to find any satisfaction in a loss when one must undergo seven in a row?

Bobby Stormes thinks not. Coach still does. Bob Hoeffner says he has always been taught to believe that when you win, you have consequently played well, and when you lose you have played bad basketball.

I don’t know. I was still able to find a good deal of satisfaction after the Pharmacy game, even though we got drubbed. But on the same token, we are 2-7, and satisfaction found must obviously begin to pale.

Next brought up was the question of motivation: Did we think Coach is too nice a guy? Does he go too easy on us? Is he too much our friend and not enough of a coach, disciplinarian-type?

Coach doesn’t think that motivation should come from him. As he said, we’re no longer high school students, where it’s all rah-rah, one-for-the-Gipper type of thing. Coach accepts that we’re all  18-19-20-21 years old. He believes the motivation should come from within ourselves. John Cooper immediately agreed with him. Dave Glielmi said it’s all a matter of pride. Dave believes that once you step out on the court, pride in yourself, your basketball ability, your pride in your teammates and pride in the school are what should motivate you.

Bobby Stormes wasn’t so sure. It seems as though Bobby is always looking for all the answers to all the questions. He’s the one who thinks Coach is going too easy on us. Bobby thinks that we should fear practice after a loss. We should fear the wrath of coach at halftime, during and before the game

I’m not so sure. I remember that I was surprised last season after we lost to Eastern and Coach was easy on us in the locker room and the next day in practice. We all went to practice expecting the worst. Practice had been much much harder the day after that first big York College win!

I can still remember that I was motivated to be a “terror” (as Coach Compardo put it) in the second half of the Philly Pharmacy game — Coach Sabota having yelled and cursed and screamed at us something awful. I walked around in a daze the day after that game. I kept repeating: “It’s all a matter of motivation.”

But I still don’t know. I’ve found that I am motivated to my best performances when the odds seem so much against us. That happened this preseason with the Lehigh freshman and the first Ursinus scrimmage. I was also “properly motivated” against Eastern this year. What it boils down to is I play as good, or maybe better, than the competition. In most cases this holds.

We moved the meeting into the locker room to get away from the intramurals in the gym.

This is when Jerry Fleming spoke up. He felt that everybody on the team had become too complacent. He said he could see no reason why himself, Gary Cacciatore, Tommy Shirley and even Chris Cashman should push themselves and the members of the blue team when everybody knew who was going to be playing for whom.

“I’m in Limbo,” Flem said. “I have to beat my head against Tommy Shirley, which still leaves me two positions behind the starting blue team. Why… Why the … Why the … F—K  should I bother to do anything? And why should anybody else bother, either? There was no more surprised person in the whole gym when I went in for Dennis [Ramella in the Spring Garden game] after he fouled out.”

Joey Thompson agreed with Flem. And I had to admit that I felt that the only reason I was playing was to give Coop a two-minute break so that he would be rested to finish out the job. Why should I bother playing, either?

We threw this around for a while. Although I can’t remember everything that went on, I do know that thanks to Flem and Cash this much was accomplished: No longer would one guy play one other guy all the time. No longer would the same five continually play the same five guys. What was decided was that positions would constantly be juxtaposed. Also, positions in scrimmages would be continually switched around and rearranged. Thus, new + different + potentially successful combinations might be uncovered. And finally, coach would tell us the night before the game who the starting five would be.

One word about Coach Sabota. During this whole time we were attacking many of his ideas concerning how to handle a basketball team, he never once took offense. In fact, he thanked us for the many suggestions, and, admitting that he is not the best coach in the world, he told us that what we had just said to him would have been unheard of when he was a player. But he realized that times had changed, and that young people today no longer accept anything just because we are told that’s the way it is to be. Coach is able to see this, and because of it, he is able to see us as young adults, no longer boys.

I said it was because of Jerry Fleming and Chris Cashman that we accomplished what we did. Flem got the ball rolling, Cash, in his own, inimitable style summed everything up for the final word.

He reminded Coach (as if he needed it) that we were presently in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Something must be wrong, but Coach had been sticking to the same game plan all along. Cash said that the changes suggested could not possibly do any harm. In fact, they could only do some good at this point.

Cash cited his old high school basketball team. He said that the coach never changed anything in practice or the games. “But then again” (that’s the way Cash said it) “he was a winner. Things are much easier to a winner. But we are losing. Change can’t hurt us at this point.”

Coach accepted our ideas, but stated that if he changed to the way things were to be, what he said about the starting five would be final. “What I say goes.” We had to admit to that. After all, we all agreed that if it helped us to win, what more can we ask?

Tom Shirley then countered Coach by asking him not to go back on his word. Coach agreed to that, also. And finally, concerning the question of motivation, Bobby Stormes is the official reminder of whom we play next. That would be Messiah College, tomorrow.

PREVIOUS GAME: Centaurs 64, Spring Garden College 69, three days ago

NEXT GAME: Messiah College, tomorrow night

1972-73 CENTAUR SEASON Schedule and Results:

12/1  — at Lehigh CCC — W/81-71 — 1-0

12-4 — at Northampton CCC — W/87-50 — 2-0

12-6  — EASTERN BAPTIST — L/73-75 — 2-1

12-12 — SPRING GARDEN — L/54-66 — 2-2

12-16 — PHILLY BIBLE — L/72-79 — 2-3

1-18   — at Baptist Bible — L/82-84 — 2-4

1-19  — WILMINGTON — L/56-71 — 2-5

1-25  — at Philly Pharmacy — L/56-71 — 2-6

1-30  — at Spring Garden — L/64-69 — 2-7

2-3   — at Messiah College

2-6   — at  Wilmington


2-16  — LEHIGH CCC

2-20  — MESSIAH





On February 6th, 2013 at 7:02 am, Steve McKee: Centaur Season said:

[…] “SEVEN LOSSES IN A ROW”: Entry #19 from “A history of the events of the Allentown … […]

On February 8th, 2013 at 8:06 am, Steve McKee: Centaur Season said:

[…] — at Spring Garden – L/64-69 — […]


Welcome to CENTAUR SEASONS: A ‘memory blog’ of the basketball beginnings of a half-good, half-bad, all-new college team.

Once, I was a Centaur.

I played basketball for Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales in Center Valley, Pa. I was on four of the school’s first seven teams, was MVP senior year and in 1974 graduated in the fifth class.

My junior year I kept a diary: A History of the Events of the 1972-1973 Allentown College B-Ball Season, as Chronicled by, and With the Personal Memoirs + Occassional [sic] Philosophizing of the Author, One Stephen J. McKee.  One-hundred-forty-five hand-writ pages. (Yes, I was an English major.)

But it occurs to me now: Were I today a “Bulldog” playing for “DeSales University” (both mascot and name changed in 2000), my private “History” would be not a diary but a blog.

So starting November 30  “…Personal Memoirs…” will be re-imagined as CENTAUR SEASONS

A blog before its time, posted 40 years after in real time.

Meanwhile, beginning on September 24, here at CENTAUR SEASONS the preseason has already tipped off, with stories, interviews and reminiscences of the people, the place and the purpose of those early years of Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales.

Check back often. Sign up for CentaurSeasonAlerts. Email CENTAUR SEASONS to friends.

We were not a bad team, we Centaurs. We just weren’t very good. Winning was always the goal, if never exactly the point. How could it be, with victories so few?

Back then Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales was a couple of buildings in some cornfields.  Our commitment to the school’s basketball program was far greater than was the school’s commitment us. So what? We got to play college ball – and paid for the privilege! In return, we got to be part of a team, wear the red and blue, be Centaurs. And we got to create a place that was, right then, as much concept as it was college, making itself up as we went along.

What we got was a once-in-a-life-time chance.

All we had to do was keep showing up -- next practice, next game, next season. And so we did.