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October 20, 2011
A depleted and motley crew of Yellow Jackets pulled out three wins in 51 hours for the school's first ACC title
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October 20, 2011

They Just Kept Ramblin' On

A depleted and motley crew of Yellow Jackets pulled out three wins in 51 hours for the school's first ACC title

From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, March 18, 1985

THE GROUP HE RAN WITH, A SOUTH BRONX GANG CALLED THE GLADIATORS, lowered him from a roof into a grocery store with an intent to rifle a cash register 22 years ago. Bobby Cremins runs with a new bunch now, and they raised him high to cut down the net after his Yellow Jackets beat North Carolina 57--54 in Atlanta's Omni to win the ACC tournament.

Never deep to begin with, Tech was left with only eight players after 6' 6" Duane Ferrell, the ACC Rookie of the Year, tore a ligament in his right knee early in the Jackets' 55--48 opening-round defeat of Virginia. So the task of winning three games in 51 hours fell to a club that did justice to the implications of the nickname Ramblin' Wreck.

John (Spider) Salley, from the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, arrived in Atlanta in 1982 as a 6' 9", 185-pound flake. He's grown up to be a 7-foot, 224-pound flake. On Sunday, Salley was the savior who came up with two clutch offensive rebounds. He put one of them back with 1:16 left to tie the game at 50 and grabbed the other to save possession after center Yvon Joseph's miss on the back end of a one-and-one.

Guard Henry (Bruce) Dalrymple came of age on the street corners of Harlem but was dispatched to a private school in St. Johnsbury, Vt., by a concerned youth league coach because, as Dalrymple puts it, "I was wild in the streets."

Mark Price, the 6-foot floor leader from Enid, Okla., has the best first step for a white man since Neil Armstrong and an automatic jumper off the dribble. He came out of high school sharing his state's player of the year award with a guy named Wayman Tisdale but had to look beyond Oklahoma for a coach who believed in his talent. Cremins promised to build his program around this kid who not only looks like a choirboy but actually is a tenor soloist at the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga. Over the three Tech victories Dalrymple, meanwhile, shot 19 for 32, scored 43 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, dished out 14 assists, made 11 steals and committed just four turnovers while running down every loose ball within hailing distance.

Undermanned Georgia Tech beat Virginia 55--48, overcame Duke in a physical semifinal and won the title despite trailing UNC by eight points about five minutes into the second half. Four years after going through an 0--14 season, five years after joining the ACC and 15 years after their coach suffered a heartbreaking ACC tournament championship loss as a player at South Carolina, the Yellow Jackets have won the august league's grand prize.