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Pope's Poll


Titan M
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At least SLU made the now Saintly 17, which is a good thing.

This Pope's Poll has become quite a conversation piece in our parish men's group that meets on early Wed. mornings. We've got guys there from USF (the Priest himself, who deadpanned last time that his team was still in Hell), Marquette, St. Mary's, Xavier, Notre Dame, San Diego, Loyola Marymount (whose son is at Villanova and broadcasts 'Nova games on the campus radio station, and whose daughter is a freshman at SLU), and of course, yours truly from SLU (whose son is a Junior at Fordham).

At coffee and donuts on Sunday, the SLU and Fordham guys were talking A-10 hoops with a St. Bona alumnus, who advised that Coach Jim Baron was once a star player for the Bonnies. We were both aware that our Bonnies and Billikens went down back to back in the A-10 Tournament.

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At least SLU made the now Saintly 17, which is a good thing.

This Pope's Poll has become quite a conversation piece in our parish men's group that meets on early Wed. mornings. We've got guys there from USF (the Priest himself, who deadpanned last time that his team was still in Hell), Marquette, St. Mary's, Xavier, Notre Dame, San Diego, Loyola Marymount (whose son is at Villanova and broadcasts 'Nova games on the campus radio station, and whose daughter is a freshman at SLU), and of course, yours truly from SLU (whose son is a Junior at Fordham).

At coffee and donuts on Sunday, the SLU and Fordham guys were talking A-10 hoops with a St. Bona alumnus, who advised that Coach Jim Baron was once a star player for the Bonnies. We were both aware that our Bonnies and Billikens went down back to back in the A-10 Tournament.

That's quite a group! I take it the Bonaventure alumnus does welding work for you all?

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That's quite a group! I take it the Bonaventure alumnus does welding work for you all?

No, he was there well before that time. He and his wife are actually from the Bronx, and she is the Principal of the Parish School.

When she recently spoke at Mass, I think on behalf of the Franciscan retreat house, she advised that she was wearing her St. Bona brown.

It is kind of neat having all these guys sitting around the table talking hoops for a while.

And we've got our own little corner of the A-10, way out here on the Left Coast.

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No, he was there well before that time. He and his wife are actually from the Bronx, and she is the Principal of the Parish School.

When she recently spoke at Mass, I think on behalf of the Franciscan retreat house, she advised that she was wearing her St. Bona brown.

It is kind of neat having all these guys sitting around the table talking hoops for a while.

And we've got our own little corner of the A-10, way out here on the Left Coast.

That's very cool. I've found that graduates of other Catholic colleges are usually the only people who truly understand our plight! You can easily take our saying, "It's hard work being a Billiken fan," and replace "Billiken" with "Rambler," "Don," "Titan," or any number of other Jebbie mascots, with a few exceptions, of course.

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No, he was there well before that time. He and his wife are actually from the Bronx, and she is the Principal of the Parish School.

When she recently spoke at Mass, I think on behalf of the Franciscan retreat house, she advised that she was wearing her St. Bona brown.

It is kind of neat having all these guys sitting around the table talking hoops for a while.

And we've got our own little corner of the A-10, way out here on the Left Coast.

Surprised the A-10 hasn't put on their Lewis and Clark shoes and poached a Cali team. Westward, ho?

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That's very cool. I've found that graduates of other Catholic colleges are usually the only people who truly understand our plight! You can easily take our saying, "It's hard work being a Billiken fan," and replace "Billiken" with "Rambler," "Don," "Titan," or any number of other Jebbie mascots, with a few exceptions, of course.

The ones that don't understand our situation are the ones from Notre Dame, Marquette, Villanova, Georgetown, and even Xavier.

St. Mary's guys are understandably pessimistic re hoops because they are so used to being snubbed, and they've lost so many key games to Gonzaga, the last one notwithstanding. But they were able to go to school amidst beautiful scenery and surroundings ... so they don't complain much. They just expect the worst from the NCAA when it comes to their Gaels.

To guys from USF, LMU, Santa Clara, we at SLU are big time these days. USF guys remember the glory days- Bill Cartwright, et al.; Santa Clara remembers their best teams couldn't beat USF. And LMU Lions still talk about Hank Gathers and Bo Kimball.

The Bonas are a proud lot and are proud of their school, which is ok. At some point, something about Bob Lanier can enter the conversation.

For that matter, LaSalle guys are a pretty proud, toughened lot themselves. They didn't get to go to school amidst that beautiful scenery like their Christian Brothers brethren from St. Mary's did. Many of them are from Philly, East Coast tough.

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The ones that don't understand our situation are the ones from Notre Dame, Marquette, Villanova, Georgetown, and even Xavier.

St. Mary's guys are understandably pessimistic re hoops because they are so used to being snubbed, and they've lost so many key games to Gonzaga, the last one notwithstanding. But they were able to go to school amidst beautiful scenery and surroundings ... so they don't complain much. They just expect the worst from the NCAA when it comes to their Gaels.

To guys from USF, LMU, Santa Clara, we at SLU are big time these days. USF guys remember the glory days- Bill Cartwright, et al.; Santa Clara remembers their best teams couldn't beat USF. And LMU Lions still talk about Hank Gathers and Bo Kimball.

The Bonas are a proud lot and are proud of their school, which is ok. At some point, something about Bob Lanier can enter the conversation.

For that matter, LaSalle guys are a pretty proud, toughened lot themselves. They didn't get to go to school amidst that beautiful scenery like their Christian Brothers brethren from St. Mary's did. Many of them are from Philly, East Coast tough.

There should be a Theology course tought about the history of Catholic universities and basketball. I know Jim Harrick would approve, but I say that you should teach it, Bay Area Billiken! I'd enrolll for sure!

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There should be a Theology course tought about the history of Catholic universities and basketball. I know Jim Harrick would approve, but I say that you should teach it, Bay Area Billiken! I'd enrolll for sure!

As I recall, there used to be a class at SLU called Basketball Physics, something like that, taught by Ron Ekker. Maybe I should have volunteered back then to take over that class, but I was just a SLU undergraduate without a degree yet, and I still don't have a teaching credential.

Catholic schools do have a rich history in basketball, some well before my time, like LaSalle and Tom Gola, some when I was a kid, like St. Bona and its trip to the Final 4 with Bob Lanier. I remember quite well when Marquette won the NCAA Championship under Al McGuire when I was in high school. And I remember Notre Dame ending UCLA's 88 game winning streak- that was a UCLA Bruins team that had Bill Walton at Center and was coached by the Wizard of Westwood himself, John Wooden.

We are a proud lot.

My wife told me last night that she thinks I pick all Catholic schools in those brackets. That's not quite the case, but I am admittedly biased and perhaps subconsciously influenced. That has to explain why I have Notre Dame making a run to the Final Four.

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As I recall, there used to be a class at SLU called Basketball Physics, something like that, taught by Ron Ekker. Maybe I should have volunteered back then to take over that class, but I was just a SLU undergraduate without a degree yet, and I still don't have a teaching credential.

Catholic schools do have a rich history in basketball, some well before my time, like LaSalle and Tom Gola, some when I was a kid, like St. Bona and its trip to the Final 4 with Bob Lanier. I remember quite well when Marquette won the NCAA Championship under Al McGuire when I was in high school. And I remember Notre Dame ending UCLA's 88 game winning streak- that was a UCLA Bruins team that had Bill Walton at Center and was coached by the Wizard of Westwood himself, John Wooden.

We are a proud lot.

My wife told me last night that she thinks I pick all Catholic schools in those brackets. That's not quite the case, but I am admittedly biased and perhaps subconsciously influenced. That has to explain why I have Notre Dame making a run to the Final Four.

Wow. That would be a short trip down US 31 for the Irish faithful to Lucas Oil Stadium..

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As I recall, there used to be a class at SLU called Basketball Physics, something like that, taught by Ron Ekker. Maybe I should have volunteered back then to take over that class, but I was just a SLU undergraduate without a degree yet, and I still don't have a teaching credential.

Catholic schools do have a rich history in basketball, some well before my time, like LaSalle and Tom Gola, some when I was a kid, like St. Bona and its trip to the Final 4 with Bob Lanier. I remember quite well when Marquette won the NCAA Championship under Al McGuire when I was in high school. And I remember Notre Dame ending UCLA's 88 game winning streak- that was a UCLA Bruins team that had Bill Walton at Center and was coached by the Wizard of Westwood himself, John Wooden.

We are a proud lot.

My wife told me last night that she thinks I pick all Catholic schools in those brackets. That's not quite the case, but I am admittedly biased and perhaps subconsciously influenced. That has to explain why I have Notre Dame making a run to the Final Four.

You never know, that strategy may work out for you sometime. My mom won her office pool a few years ago by picking Xavier to go to the Final Four in the year they made it to the Elite Eight.

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Wow. That would be a short trip down US 31 for the Irish faithful to Lucas Oil Stadium..

Perhaps the greatest year for the Catholic schools in NCAA hoops was 1985, my last year at SLU.

That was the year when the Final 4 had 3 Catholic schools: Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John's. And that NCAA Championship Game was one of the greatest upsets of all time, as Villanova, a huge underdog, took down mighty Georgetown, which had Patrick Ewing in the paint. St. John's had Chris Mullen.

Quick trivia question- who was the 4th member of the 1985 Final 4?

(Answer- Memphis State of Coach Dana Kirk and Keith Lee. I didn't remember and had to look it up.)

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Perhaps the greatest year for the Catholic schools in NCAA hoops was 1985, my last year at SLU.

That was the year when the Final 4 had 3 Catholic schools: Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John's. And that NCAA Championship Game was one of the greatest upsets of all time, as Villanova, a huge underdog, took down mighty Georgetown, which had Patrick Ewing in the paint. St. John's had Chris Mullen.

Quick trivia question- who was the 4th member of the 1985 Final 4?

(Answer- Memphis State of Coach Dana Kirk and Keith Lee. I didn't remember and had to look it up.)

That was the last time Loyola made the tourney. Whenever I think we have it bad, not having made it since 2000, I remind myself that it could be worse.

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Perhaps the greatest year for the Catholic schools in NCAA hoops was 1985, my last year at SLU.

That was the year when the Final 4 had 3 Catholic schools: Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John's. And that NCAA Championship Game was one of the greatest upsets of all time, as Villanova, a huge underdog, took down mighty Georgetown, which had Patrick Ewing in the paint. St. John's had Chris Mullen.

Quick trivia question- who was the 4th member of the 1985 Final 4?

(Answer- Memphis State of Coach Dana Kirk and Keith Lee. I didn't remember and had to look it up.)

I was only a tot, but imagine Lou Carnaseca going up against Rollie Massimino...wow. I mean, Huggins v. Pitino is a good of a coaching matchup in the game today. Imagine those guys possibly going at it twice in the reg season, maybe another time at the Garden and possibly in the NCAAs...unreal. Throw in John Thompson at Gtown and that's like the Holy Trinity of legendary coaches.

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You never know, that strategy may work out for you sometime. My mom won her office pool a few years ago by picking Xavier to go to the Final Four in the year they made it to the Elite Eight.

Xavier was one bad call from being there. The refs protect Duke even away from Cameron Indoor (and the NCAA gave them everything they could have wanted in this bracket, good gravy).

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I was only a tot, but imagine Lou Carnaseca going up against Rollie Massimino...wow. I mean, Huggins v. Pitino is a good of a coaching matchup in the game today. Imagine those guys possibly going at it twice in the reg season, maybe another time at the Garden and possibly in the NCAAs...unreal. Throw in John Thompson at Gtown and that's like the Holy Trinity of legendary coaches.

The great rivalry in those days was Georgetown, coached by John Thompson, against St. John's, coached by Lou Carnesecca. The coaches had a friendly rivalry. Louie wore those trademark sweaters, and Thompson began wearing a sweater on the bench. They faced off in the national semi-finals. And then add Rollie Massimino, and Jim Boeheim, who still coaches Syracuse. What great theater that was.

In the '70's, the great coaching theater was Notre Dame's Digger Phelps v. Marquette's Al McGuire, my all-time favorite coach. And a little later, the great Ray Meyer had DePaul back in the limelight.

In the 1990's, our own Coach Spoon had a friendly coaching rivalry with Bob Huggins, then at Cincinnati. We were the good guys, the Billikens, and Huggy Bear was the ultimate villain. The last SLU NCAA appearance followed the 2000 Miracle of Memphis, after Kenyon Martin went down against SLU. Some of us refer to that as the Act of God game.

Re Loyola, that last NCAA team was led by Alfredrick Hughes, who never seemed to know a shot he didn't like. SLU and Loyola were both in the MCC (now Horizon League) back then. Red Rush, a colorful announcer, was the radio voice of the Loyola Ramblers. "He eyes it, he skies it, he buys it."

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That was the last time Loyola made the tourney. Whenever I think we have it bad, not having made it since 2000, I remind myself that it could be worse.

Indeed, it could be worse.

Not to be too negative here, but SLU waited a long time- from 1957 to 1994- between NCAA Tournament appearances. Once the former SLU Chancellor, the late Father Barry McGannon, was out here for an alumni function. I told Father that I was at the SLU victory (over Minnesota) in the 1995 NCAA Tournament. He said, "... do you realize you were at St. Louis U's first NCAA victory in 38 years?"

Now there are extenuating circumstances. SLU had some very good teams after 1957, like that 1971 Missouri Valley Conference tri-champion that lost a playoff game by 2 points to Louisville at Robertson Fieldhouse (Bradley) in Peoria, of all places. Those were the days when the NCAA only took 1 team from a conference. I always felt as if 2 of Rich Grawer's NIT teams were snubbed by the NCAA too.

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Indeed, it could be worse.

Not to be too negative here, but SLU waited a long time- from 1957 to 1994- between NCAA Tournament appearances. Once the former SLU Chancellor, the late Father Barry McGannon, was out here for an alumni function. I told Father that I was at the SLU victory (over Minnesota) in the 1995 NCAA Tournament. He said, "... do you realize you were at St. Louis U's first NCAA victory in 38 years?"

Now there are extenuating circumstances. SLU had some very good teams after 1957, like that 1971 Missouri Valley Conference tri-champion that lost a playoff game by 2 points to Louisville at Robertson Fieldhouse (Bradley) in Peoria, of all places. Those were the days when the NCAA only took 1 team from a conference. I always felt as if 2 of Rich Grawer's NIT teams were snubbed by the NCAA too.

You are a treasure trove of basketball knowledge, good sir. Let us know when you are back in St. Louis so we can bask in your warmth!!

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You are a treasure trove of basketball knowledge, good sir. Let us know when you are back in St. Louis so we can bask in your warmth!!

I love this time of year and want my alma mater to excel. We used to sit there at SLU and watch Marquette. We'd say, if they can do it, why can't we? In fact, there was a SLU student from Milwaukee back then that wanted SLU to hire Rick Majerus, then an assistant at Marquette. How ironic is that? This was in the early 1980's, at the time SLU hired Rich Grawer, the Saviour of Billiken Basketball as we know it.

We're still saying it, but I think we are getting there.

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