The Pit and the Pendulum Swing for N.C. State
Trailing mighty Houston by a point in the 1983 NCAA final, North Carolina State's Dereck Whittenburg launches a last-second, off-balance, 35-foot prayer that appears sure to seal the Wolfpack's doom...until Lorenzo Charles snatches the ball out of the ether and (with the ground-bound Akeem Olajuwon watching) dunks at the buzzer. Pandemonium ensues at the Pit in Albuquerque as coach Jim Valvano skitters about, eyes wide, "just looking for someone to hug," as he would so famously put it.
Wait, I Can Explain Everything...
Six days after signing a two-year contract extension worth $300,000 on July 7, 1990, Cleveland State coach Kevin Mackey celebrates for nine hours in a Cleveland crack house. He's then stopped by police while driving his Lincoln under the influence through a squalid neighborhood. Did we mention that a hooker is riding shotgun?
During his second season at North Carolina, Dean Smith concocts the four-comers "offense" as a way of boring more talented opponents into submission. The four-corners becomes basketball's version of a holding pattern over LAX, if not nearly as fun, and reaches its apotheosis in 1982, when Carolina defeats Virginia in a high-snoring ACC tournament final, 47-45. Three years later, the NCAA introduces a 45-second shot clock. To Smith's dismay, it has no snooze button.
If It Ain't Broke, Fix It
On Jan. 11, 1951, a former Manhattan College guard offers Jaspers forward Junius Kellogg $1,000 to shave points in an upcoming game against DePaul. Kellogg reports the offer to police, and an ensuing grand-jury investigation will uncover 86 games that were fixed by some of the top programs in the country, including Kentucky. It is the point-shaving scandal to end all point-shaving scandals. But, of course, it doesn't.
They're Number One
Sparsely toothed playground legend James (Fly) Williams enrolls in 1972 at Austin Peay University, where fans immediately begin chanting, "The Fly is open, let's go Peay."
Thank You, but No
Indiana coach Bob Knight tosses an LSU fan into a garbage can at the '81 Final Four; heaves a chair across the court during an '85 loss to Purdue; tells a prime-time TV audience in '88 that "if rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it"; poses for a picture holding a bullwhip over forward Calbert Cheaney in '92; appears to kick his son in mid-shin during a game; and announces—over the Assembly Hall public address system—in '94 his ambition to be buried upside down so that the world can, for all eternity, "kiss my ass."
Why They Call It the Pit
Norm Ellenberger, the gold-draped, deeply tanned, prodigiously comb-overed coach, guides the New Mexico Lobos into the nation's Top 20 during the 1977-78 season. Unfortunately, FBI agents wiretapping him as part of a gambling probe overhear Ellenberger and assistant coach Manny Goldstein discuss preparing a fake academic transcript for a transfer player. Five Lobos are later found to have been given false course credits: They never showed up for a class called—believe it or not—Current Problems in Coaching Athletics.
When Oklahoma fans pelt the court with garbage to protest a referee's call during a 1989 game, Sooners coach Billy Tubbs preaches tolerance over the public address system. He pleads with the audience to behave, "no matter how terrible the officiating is."
Convicted game-rigger Richie (the Fixer) Perry is photographed on May 26, 1991, in a hot tub with three UNLV players, nonplussing coach Jerry Tarkanian, who has spent his entire career in hot water.