Furman: Davis Steps Down to Move Up

by - Published April 5, 2006 in Newswire



Davis Steps Down to Move Up: Furman coach Larry Davis is leaving the Paladins to take an associate coaching position at Cincinnati under new coach Mick Cronin. Davis said Cronin made an offer that he “had a difficult time turning down.” He has been Furman’s coach for the past nine seasons, leading the Paladins to a 124-139 record. [4/05/06]

Iowa State: Prioleau Joins Cyclones

by - Published April 5, 2006 in Newswire



Prioleau Joins Cyclones: Marquette assistant coach Jean Prioleau has left the Golden Eagles to take a similar position at Iowa State under new Cyclones coach Greg McDermott. Prioleau was an assistant under Tom Crean for one season after working at Wichita State for five years. While with the Shockers, he became familiar with McDermott’s style because he coached Northern Iowa. [4/05/06]

Conversation with Kyle Kiederling

by - Published April 4, 2006 in Columns


A Conversation with Kyle Kiederling, Author of Shooting Star, The Bevo Francis Story

by Adam Shandler

If I asked you who scored 113 points in one college game, would you be able to give me the answer? Here are a few hints: it wasn’t Wilt, it wasn’t Russell and it wasn’t Alcindor. That record, which still stands today, belongs to Bevo Francis, a lanky Ohio farm boy who put tiny Rio Grande College (Not REE-oh, but RYE-oh, not Texas but Ohio) on the map and brought college basketball fans back to a game that was injured by scandal in the early 1950’s.

Francis’s story is not all Hoosiers and Hoop Dreams. It’s part lovable, part tragic. In the 1952-53 season, for instance, Bevo actually averaged over 48 points a game and scored 116 in one of them.

While those marks still stand in the NAIA record books, they were vaporized by the NCAA because they came against institutions not recognized by the organization. But that was just the half of Bevo’s problems. Newt Oliver – the only coach Bevo ever had in high school or college – was a barnstorming overpromoter, who his star player came to resent over the years. This could very well be the first documented, glaring case of a coach exploiting a college basketball player for his own personal gain.

In this edition of Conversations With Adam, I speak with Kyle Kiederling, basketball enthusiast, former stock market radio show host and author of Shooting Star: The Bevo Francis Story, about one of college hoops’ first Cinderella stories.

Adam Shandler: What was it about the Bevo Francis story that inspired you to write this book?

Kyle Kiederling: It was a great human interest story of Americana and I was fascinated with it when I was ten years old. I guess the story just stayed with me. When researching Bevo and writing the book I found it interesting how this spectacle who so dominated the sport could become a difficult answer to a trivia question. You don’t hear about Bevo Francis anymore, but for two years he was a fascinating story.

AS: Why don’t we hear Bevo Francis mentioned in the same breath as Chamberlin, Russell, and Oscar Robertson when talking about prolific college scorers?

KK: I think it’s quite simply the coach he had at the time and the methods that coach used to promote Bevo and tiny Rio Grande College. Newt Oliver left a bitter taste in the mouth of the NCAA. He was seen as a P.T. Barnum-type with this trumped-up sideshow. The way Bevo was presented by his coach was the underlying reason he became a less-mentioned player.

Bevo was also under wraps not to play defense (for fear Newt Oliver’s star player would foul out), and he got criticism in the media for that. But he could shoot. He was a pure shooter. People who saw him, played against him, said he was the purest shooter they ever saw.

AS:So did Newt Oliver make Bevo Francis’s career, or did he simply exploit him?

KK: It’s really interesting. There’s a part of the book where there’s a line from Newt that says, “I made Bevo Francis what he is today.” Newt would tell you, “I am first and foremost a promoter.” But what was he promoting? Was it Bevo? Was it tiny Rio Grande, his alma mater? Newt Oliver was a great promoter. But other coaches will tell you he exploited Bevo’s talent. I make no judgments about that in the book. Newt had a plan, and the plan worked. Newt believed he did what was best for Bevo and for Rio Grande. The school was going into bankruptcy at the time he brought Bevo in.

Bevo feels he was exploited, and for twenty-some years he and Newt didn’t talk.

AS: At the time of this story, a dark cloud was hanging over college basketball with the betting scandals of 1951. Did Bevo Francis save the sport?

KK: That’s the part of the story that interested me the most. The country was very distrustful at that time. We had the Communist scare with McCarthyism, it was the beginning of the Cold War, we were fighting in Korea. College basketball mirrored the mood of the country.

Absolutely, Bevo Francis will not just be remembered as a guy who set a flock of records. He rescued Rio Grande, a tiny school with only 94 students that now gives 4,000 students the opportunity to get a college education. The team lay the gritty gravel sub-base that is the road to the Final Four. Interest in college basketball was reeling and this story saved college basketball.

Alex Severance, who once coached Villanova, said that Bevo Francis and Rio Grande were to college hoops what Ruth and Gehrig were to baseball after the [1919 Chicago] Black Sox scandal.

AS: People seem to love guys who break scoring records and Bevo’s record of 113 points in one college game is a record that still stands. Did the book gain any momentum when J.J. Redick took over the ACC scoring title this year?

KK: It’s kind of funny; when Kobe [Bryant] scored all his points I got a lot of calls about that. But Bevo’s story is mostly compared to Wilt Chamberlin’s scoring record. Bevo won’t be remembered as the guy who scored all those points, but for the thousands of kids who are getting an education at Rio Grande. When Newt Oliver came to the school and told his team that they’d be playing at Madison Square Garden, the players all thought he was stark raving mad. But they bought into it. And they did play at the Garden. This school of only 94 kids playing bigger teams like N.C. State, Miami, and Creighton showed America that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything.

AS: What’s Bevo Francis up to now?

KK: Fishing, enjoying his children and his grandchildren. He lives in the same house that he bought with his Globetrotters money. (In 1954, Francis signed with the Boston Whirlwinds, one of the Globetrotters’ foil teams.)

AS: Did he enjoy the book and all the attention his story has been getting as a result?

KK: Bevo doesn’t like publicity. He’d rather have root canal without anesthesia. It’s his life, and these were not pleasant memories for him. Bevo Francis was not treated well by basketball. It didn’t make him rich, but many will say that he enriched basketball.

For more information about Kyle Kiederling and Shooting Star: The Bevo Francis Story, visit www.bevofrancis.com.

     

National Championship

by - Published April 4, 2006 in Newswire




National Championship: No. 3 Florida completed a dominant run to the school’s first national championship with a 73-57 victory against No. 2 UCLA. The Gators took the lead early in the first half and never trailed after the Bruins opened a 4-2 lead. By halftime, Florida had stretched the lead to 11, and the Gators pushed it to 20 a couple of times in the second half. The Bruins’ defense could not contain the combination of size and athleticism of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer. The three forwards combined for 41 points.

Noah was all over the court for the entire game, serving up a record seven blocks. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, and his impact extended well beyond the stat sheet. When the Bruins pressed to force turnovers, Noah helped the Gators initiate fast breaks that more often that not resulted in easy dunks. The well-prepared Gators committed only six turnovers against a team that had frustrated opponents throughout the NCAA Tournament. Florida was the first UCLA opponent to hit 60 points in the tournament. Florida flew past the mark en route to 73.

In the losing effort, only Jordan Farmar was able to crack Florida’s defense, scoring a team-high 18 points. But he was only 8-of-21 from the field. The Bruins’ two other stars — Arron Afflalo and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute — struggled throughout the game, finishing with 16 points combined. As a team, the Bruins hit only 36 percent of their shots, though Florida’s extended, tenacious defense was the cause for that statistic. The championship loss drops the Bruins to an 11-2 record in 13 championship game appearances. The Gators won their first ever championship in the team’s second try. Coach Billy Donovan led the Gators to the championship in 2000 when Michigan State and Mateen Cleaves beat the upstart Gators. [4/03/06]

Arizona State: Sendek Starts Fresh on the West Coast

by - Published April 3, 2006 in Newswire



Sendek Starts Fresh on the West Coast: Arizona State officials have hired North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek to replace Rob Evans in Phoenix. Sendek leaves the Wolfpack despite reaching the NCAA Tournament five consecutive seasons. In 10 seasons in Raleigh, Sendek led the Wolfpack to a 191-132 record. But many boosters and fans were critical of Sendek because North Carolina State is only 17-54 against its three in-state ACC rivals. Years of success cannot erase the pain of losing to the most prestigious ACC programs. Sendek worked through the criticism for years, but the right opportunity finally came along to convince him to leave. [4/03/06]

Wright State: Brownell Bolts the CAA

by - Published April 3, 2006 in Newswire



Brownell Bolts the CAA: UNC – Wilmington coach Brad Brownell has left the Seahawks’ sidelines to accept the coaching position at Wright State. Brownell led the Seahawks to a share of the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title and the conference tournament championship. UNC – Wilmington entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed before losing to No. 8 George Washington in the first round. In four seasons at the school, Brownell compiled an 83-40 record. He said he sought a new opportunity to continue to grow in his career. Wright State fired Paul Biancardi after the NCAA banned him from recruiting through 2007 because of his role in violations at Ohio State under former coach Jim O’Brien. [4/03/06]

Delaware: Blue Hens Choose a Hawk for a Coach

by - Published April 3, 2006 in Newswire



Blue Hens Choose a Hawk for a Coach: Delaware has hired Saint Joseph’s assistant coach Monte Ross to become the Blue Hens’ next head coach. Ross will take his first head coaching job after working for Phil Martelli and the Hawks for the past 10 years. Ross replaces David Henderson, who led Delaware to a 9-21 record this past season. [4/03/06]

Hampton: Pirates Choose ACC Assistant

by - Published April 3, 2006 in Newswire



Pirates Choose ACC Assistant: Hampton officials ended their search for a new coach by hiring Clemson recruiting coordinator Kevin Nickelberry. The position will be Nickelberry’s first head coaching position after working as an assistant at Clemson, Charlotte, Holy Cross, Monmouth and Howard at the Division I level. He spent the past three years with the Tigers under coach Oliver Purnell. Nickelberry replaces Bobby Collins, who resigned after leading the Pirates to a Mid-Eastern Atlantic Athletic Conference championship and opening round loss in the NCAA Tournament. [4/03/06]

Cleveland State: Viking Abandons Ship

by - Published April 3, 2006 in Newswire



Viking Abandons Ship: Cleveland State coach Mike Garland resigned after three unsuccessful seasons leading the Vikings. Garland compiled a 23-60 in his run at Cleveland State, including a 10-18 record this season. A perennial Horizon Conference bottom feeder, the school wants to find someone who can help the Vikings compete on the level of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Butler, the conference’s annual favorites. Garland will continue to work with the university in another capacity because he has two years remaining on his contract. [4/03/06]

Possible Attrition At Weber State

by - Published April 3, 2006 in Columns




New Weber Coach May Face Early Attrition

by Nick Dettmann

Every first-year coach expects to go through changes and hardships. But new Weber State coach Randy Rahe already has a problem not even a month into his tenure.

According to a report by the Rocky Mountain Basketball News, the Wildcats are going to lose four of its players for next season.

Seven-foot center Danko Barisic and Clint Burris have officially announced they will leave the team and pursue other basketball opportunities. Matt Amadi and Dan Henry have also decided to leave the team, but they have not released a public statement about it and their future endeavors.

The school has also not formally announced the departures.

With the departures of those four players in addition to the three that graduated, the Wildcats are already looking to fill seven holes for next season.

     

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