‘WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN’ — entry # 8 from “A history of the events of the Allentown College’s 1972-1973 B-ball season …

Posted on Dec 07, 2012

… AS CHRONICLED BY, AND WITH THE PERSONAL MEMOIRS + OCCASSIONAL PHILOSOPHIZING OF THE AUTHOR, ONE STEPHEN J. McKEE”

This Centaur Seasons post was originally scribbled on December 7, 1972.

PREVIOUS GAME: Centaurs 73, EASTERN 75, last night

NEXT GAME: Spring Garden College, six days

CENTAUR SEASON: 2-1

We took it to them. Right to the final second.

Eastern 75, A.C. 73.

I would like to make a comment: Like the chant goes in the Chicago song that we ran out to tonight:  WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!

At the end of the game, the fans – and there were many, many, many of them – realizing that we had lost, they rose and clapped in unison as the defeated Centaurs walked off the court. I cried. Chris Cashman cried. Joey Thomson cried. Dave Glielmi cried. I think we all cried.

We made it happen tonight.

[WITHIN THE BIG BASKETBALL PICTURE THE EARLY CENTAURS HAD TO MAKE IT HAPPEN HOWEVER WE COULD, AS HAPPENS IN THIS CENTAUR SEASONS POST.] … … [AND AS HAPPENS AGAIN IN THIS POST, TOO.]

I had the very curious advantage of watching the team receive the standing ovation. I was observer AND participant AND recipient. It is an event in my life I will not soon forget.

Here’s why.

I sprained my ankle with eight minutes gone. (I already had four points.) I went to the locker room, got taped and went back out, and with 2:30 to go in the first half I went in (scored a quick one and then Coach took me out). I went in again with 12 minutes to go in the game. (First thing I did was block a guy’s shot and  scored twice more). Then I re-sprained my ankle, going down while running to the boards as Dave drove the lane for what would’ve tied it up with seconds left.

So at the end of the game I was already in the locker room.  But I  wanted to be with the team, so I hobbled down the hall to the top of the steps where I could see it all. I watched everybody walk off the court. I watched the fans clap until the entire team was up the stairs. Standing there, I clapped too.

That was the story tonight. We showed the hometown fans that they have a TEAM. Coach said only one thing after: It hurts, but he was proud of us in defeat. We can, did, and will make it happen. Enough said.

Once again playing me onto the bench, John Cooper had ANOTHER great game – 22 points. Right before I went out for the center tap, he gave me a few encouraging words: “Go straight up, keep your free hand off your man, Steve-O.” (He’s the only guy who calls me that.) That little encouraging word made me feel really good.

OH– I took a shot with what I thought was three minutes left (I’m making excuses now). I don’t know, we were down one, up one. I do know I shouldn’t have taken it. There was only 1:17 to go. I missed and I didn’t follow my shot. If I had, I probably could have had a layup; the ball bounced right back at me. I can still hear the crowd groaning when Eastern got the rebound. But if I hadn’t missed …

Chris Cashman didn’t play last night. Although he’s trying not to show it, I know he must be down. When I went back in in the second half with my ankle taped – or, rather, right before I went back in – Coach asked me if I could go. I said yes (of course), and as I was going in Cash said that I better be able to go, because I was going in for him.

I don’t think Cash realizes the influential power he exerts on the team. Or at least the power I think he exerts. Cash is not relishing the fruits of a bumper-crop season. He blew up his ankle the first day of preseason practice. And he didn’t play with us at all for five weeks, or four days before the season started. then he didn’t play in the first game, breaking his appearance streak — he had played in every game his first three years — and when he played against Northampton he looked poor, his timing off, and he favored his ankle. Last night coach didn’t play him. It’s gotta be killin’ him..

Nevertheless, Cash, I believe, is still the most influential member on this team. I firmly believe that as Cash goes, so will go the team. When he was out hurt he came to every practice, he never stopped with the encouraging words. During the day, every day, he was down at Billera rehabbing with Coach Compardo, our athletic director and one-man athletic department, physical therapy included. Everybody knows what Cash has been through. Everybody respects him for it. He is the captain.

Bobby Stormes is in hurtin’ shape. Pulled groin muscles in BOTH legs. How can he walk? Last year he dislocated his hip and tore cartilage in his knee. He is always worrying about getting hurt. … … Bob Hoeffner has lost a lot of confidence in his shot. He was 4-12 last night. He can’t get down on himself. … … P.J. Brennan impressed a lot of people last night. He had 12 points and remained cool in many a tight situation. … … Dennis sat 16 minutes of the second half. I would imagine that the 1,000-point mark is forever on his mind. But I was talking to him last night and he said that he can now start playing basketball again. He talked to both coaches, the A.D. Coach Compardo + Coach Saboda. And from what they had to say it seems they took the pressure off Dennis. I think he’ll settle down now and play some good ball for us.

I’ve said very little about three people: Jerry Fleming, Gary Cacciatore and Tom Shirley. Flem’s a senor, Gary a sophomore and Tom a freshman. These three guys will probably see the least amount of action of anybody on the team. Last night they were yelling encouragement to the guys playing. To reiterate: I have discovered what it’s like to sit the bench. BUT: I also know I’ll get another chance to prove myself. We 6-goot-8 guys, we ALWAYS get another chance, even if we shouldn’t. Flem-Gary-Tom have stuck it out when plenty others have quit. They come to practice every night realizing that that is ALL they will do – practice. But last night they were standing up cheering.

Tonight at practice Coach made a tactical maneuver. He moved Dave Glielmi to forward and Joey Thomson to guard. It will be Coop at center, Joey and Dennis at guards and the Bobbys (Stormes and Hoeffner) at forwards. Cash and Dave will come in at the forward spot, me for Coop (yeah, lost my starting spot), and P.J. and either Tom Shirley, Flem, or Gary C. will see the action at the backup guard slot. Cash will also be called upon to play center to give Coop a break.

There: wanted to make sure I mentioned everybody tonight. They all deserve it.

PREVIOUS GAME: Centaurs 87, Northampton Area CC 50

NEXT GAME: Eastern Baptist College, day after tomorrow, home opener

1972-73 CENTAUR SEASON Schedule and Results:

DATE  OPPONENT                 RESULT                 RECORD

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

12-13    SPRING GARDEN

12-16    PHILA. BIBLE

1-18      at Baptist Bible

1-19      WILMINGTON

1-25      at Phila. Pharmacy

1-30      at Spring Garden

2-3        at Messiah College

2-6        at Wilmington

2-13      RUTGERS, So. Jrsy

2-16      LEHIGH CCC

2-20      MESSIAH

2-22      N’HAMPTON CCC

2-24      PHILA. PHARM.

2-27      BAPTIST BIBLE

 

 

On December 10th, 2012 at 8:09 am, Steve McKee: Centaur Season said:

[…] ‘WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN’ — entry # 8 from “A history of the events of the All… […]



 
     

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.

Welcome to CENTAUR SEASONS.

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