Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

February 15, 2014

Morgan: The red and blue are back — thanks to Brown

By Ron Morgan
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Since last week was a stroll down memory lane, I figured I might as well carry that theme out for at least one more week.

Twenty-one years since the last girl’s playoff game to me feels like yesterday. I stopped to put that in perspective and realized just how long ago that was. I put myself in the position of this crop of Lady Tigers. If I went back to my senior year in high school (1968), that would have been the equivalent of hearing about the local team from 1947, three years before I was born.

Now that my mind is dwelling on 1968, it brings up another blast from the past. That year I applied to attend SMU. My goal since the sixth grade had been to be a Mustang. I had been a fan of Park Cities basketball from the first time I attempted a jump shot. I thought Doc Hayes was the best basketball coach in the country … well, maybe second best. There was a guy named John Wooden out on the West Coast.

I loved SMU basketball. That was the reason I wanted to attend classes on the Hilltop. Well, that and the fact that there were approximately 5,000 women there I needed to meet. Looks and money make for a very compelling reason to love the blue and red.

Since the NCAA applied the death penalty to SMU football, all sports have suffered. The last time the Ponies were relevant in basketball was close to 30 years ago. It has been so bad that I quit even looking for their scores on the sports page. March Madness in University Park had become anger over a dud pledge class for the Pi Phi’s.

Then, out of the blue (and red) comes the announcement that SMU has signed Larry Brown to coach basketball at Moody Coliseum. It wasn’t just any old Larry Brown. It was the Larry Brown who won an Olympic Gold medal as a player, was MVP of the ABA All Star game, and is still the only coach to win an NCAA championship and an NBA championship.

I’m sure that a lot of people had the same initial reaction that I had. Larry is a great coach, but he’s older than dirt. He’s just grasping at one last chance to coach, and SMU is desperate enough to latch on. You remember as well as I do the results from Texas Tech bringing in a retired Bobby Knight and his son Pat.

That just goes to show you how much I know. The Mustangs have 20 wins, are ranked number 23 in the nation and just polished off three ranked teams: UConn, Memphis, and most recently, number seven rated Cincinnati. Don’t think Coach Brown is satisfied with what he’s done this season. For next year, he has already signed the number one point guard in the country beating out Kentucky to do it.

I will never forget the first time I set foot in Moody Coliseum to watch the Aggies play the Ponies in 1967. The next year, the biggest thrill of my then young life was lacing up a pair of Chuck Taylors with red shoelaces and setting foot on that floor. Well Moody Coliseum is still there. The difference now is gaining access to that gym. Over the past several years, there have been very few if any full houses at basketball games in the venerable old structure. That’s the case no more.

Since it was remodeled, Moody only holds about 8,000. Getting anywhere near that number was almost a pipe dream. For any home game for the rest of this season, students camp out to wait in line. In fact, for their last home game while camping out in front of the ticket booth, students were served coffee and donuts by, who else, Larry Brown.

Now, my mind can race back to memories of Jan Loudermilk, Lynn and Gene Phillips, Bob Begert, Charlie Beasley, Doc Hayes, Bob Pruett and others. The SMU basketball teams of my childhood have been resurrected. I would pull my old red and blue sweater out of the cedar chest if it hadn’t been sewn to fit someone 40 pounds lighter. Besides, next to 74-year old Larry Brown, I feel almost young.  Now, if I could just find some Chuck Taylors.