Todbits - March 23. 2017

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



FOR YOU, FRANKIE!

  Frank McGuire’s son, Frankie, had cerebral palsy.
  He was wheelchair bound, almost non-verbal, and was my age.
  When I was a student, at every Carolina home basketball game Frankie was rolled to his seat not far behind the Gamecock bench.
  Before the game began the team would run out on the court to thunderous applause, but Coach Frank McGuire would go into the stands and hug his son.
  Yes, Frankie was basically non-verbal, but there was one phrase he said as clear as a bell, “Beat Duke!” 
  I’m sure he learned that when his dad was coaching  North Carolina to the national championship, and the phrase still applied when Frank took the USC job, because the Gamecocks were still members of the ACC.
  Frankie said “Beat Duke!” a lot.
  I seem to recall Channel 10 got area personalities to do on air Christmas greetings.
  When it was the McGuire family’s turn, Frank, his wife and daughter, gathered around Frankie to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and Frankie said, “Beat Duke!”
  Frank smiled, patted his son on the shoulder and said, “That’s right. Beat Duke!”
  When the Gamecock men’s basketball team ended a 44-year winless streak in the NCAA tournament Friday with a victory over a classic rival from the McGuire era, Marquette, setting up the meeting with Duke, I immediately thought of Frankie.
  Of course, I wanted the Gamecocks to beat Duke, too, but was that even remotely possible?
  Because of the Gamecock shooting woes, I was not overly confident Carolina could beat Marquette, even though the Warriors were a 10th seed and the Gamecocks were seeded 7th.
  But the long layoff after Carolina got beat by Alabama in their SEC tourney opener did a lot of good.
  The defense that had been so dominant during the time the team was ranked, but had disappeared during the bad play of February, returned against Marquette, and the offense came alive in the second half to give Carolina a 93-73 win.
  But Duke, who most people felt had the best talent in the country? Nine McDonald’s All-Americans to the Gamecocks’ one? That Duke?
  When I saw the Gamecocks and the Blue Devils had a possibility of meeting, I started to put a Facebook status that I was going to supply Grayson Allen a list of Carolina players for him to trip when they started missing a lot of shots, but I decided against it.
  This past weekend was probably one of the best in University of South Carolina sports history.
    It began at 5 p.m. Friday in the CLA with the Gamecock women taking on UNC-Asheville. This was one I could watch. Carolina won by a half century.
  Some fans left this game and drove to Greenville to see the men play Marquette for a 10 p.m. tip off.
  On the way I’m sure they listened to the Gamecock baseball team beat 24th ranked Tennessee.
  While I could watch the women in a blow-out, I knew my nerves would not allow me to watch the men. I trained myself not to check on the score much. After I saw the Gamecocks were down 40-39 at halftime, I decided not to check again until the game was over.
  My phone let me know the Gamecocks won 93-73, and I could rewind my tape and watch.
  Saturday, the Yardcocks beat the Vols in extra innings to wrap up the series.
  Sunday afternoon started with the baseball team beating Tennessee 10-2 to take the sweep.
  Later, I started watching the women,  hoping it would be another cruiser. It wasn’t. I turned it quickly, only checking sporadically. When I checked my phone and saw the Gamecocks were up by one with 18 seconds to go, there was no way I was turning to the game. I allowed my phone to inform me again.
  Watching the men was entirely out of the question, and taping the first half was also a no go, because I had to watch “The Walking Dead.” I still have a VCR in my bedroom, but can tape and watch something else on Roku if the games are on ESPN. They weren’t.
  When “The Walking Dead” was over, I checked my phone to see the Gamecocks were down 30-23 at halftime, and started taping. I switched over to Netflix and started watching something that put me to sleep.
  A message later popped up on my phone that said Carolina was leading by three with three minute to go in the game. What?!!!!
  I resisted temptation to watch.
  A few minutes later I got a text from my sister Elizabeth asking if I was watching. I answered, “No,” but that text told me we were winning.
  A few minutes later, she texted, “We won!”
  I waited for the program I was watching to end before I rewound the tape.
  I checked the score. The Gamecocks won 88-81. That meant they scored 65 points in the second half. How was that possible for a team that couldn’t shoot?
  Then I read they shot 71 per cent from the floor in the second half and hit 27 our of 32 free throws for the games. I think when they lost to Alabama they made 13-24 free throws.
  When the Gamecocks returned to playing defense like they did earlier in the season, the offense began to click again.
  It was truly one of the greatest wins in Gamecock basketball history, because it earned the team a spot in the “Sweet 16.”
  During the McGuire years, Carolina  was  in the “Sweet Sixteen” three times, but that was because only 16 teams were invited to the tournament. This will be the Gamecocks first trip since the field was expanded to 64.
  Like many Gamecock fans, I had a hard time sleeping after the big win, especially since I couldn’t watch the second half until after the game was over.
  There were many fans calling for Frank Martin’s head after Carolina lost five of it last seven games. I think they’ve now hung up the call.
  Finally, I think it’s great the Gamecock men and women both advanced to the Sweet 16 without having to leave South Carolina! Hopefully, this will be the first of many opportunities.
  Greenville has proven to be a great site

HOW GOOD?

  Someone posted on Twitter the Gamecock roster  the last time Carolina won a NCAA game in 1973.
  On the starting line-up were Brian Winters, Mike Dunleavy, Alex English, Danny Traylor and Kevin Joyce.
  English played 15 seasons in the NBA and retired as its 17th all-time leading scorer with just over 25,000 points.
  Winters averaged 16 points a game in a nine-year NBA career, and was the first coach of the Vancouver Grizzlies.
  Dunleavy played eight years in the NBA and was head coach of the LA Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, LA Clippers and is the current head coach at Tulane.
  Injuries shortened Joyce’s professional career, but he and English both had their jersey numbers retired by Carolina.
  Traylor, at 7-1, set school records in field goal percentage and blocked shots.
  Also on the team was Circuit Judge Casey Manning, who has been the radio broadcast color man for years, and Mark Griener, whose son Greyson is one of Carolina baseball’s all-time greats.
  This loaded team only won ONCE! This year’s team has already won twice!

THE GOAT MAN RETURNS

  Jessica Dorn invited me to speak to second graders at Hollywood Elementary School last week on how Saluda County has changed over the years.
  A few weeks in advance I emailed her some old pictures, including many supplied by Hardee Horne. Jessica put the photos in a PowerPoint presentation, which included some “after” pictures she and her fellow second grade teachers took.
  One of Hardee’s photos I sent was of the Goat Man. I thought the kids would be fascinated by this legendary character. They were.
  Old-timers will remember Ches McCartney’s trips through Saluda County in his wagon home, pulled by large goats.
  According to his biography he travelled to all 49 contiguous states. He said he didn’t go to Hawaii because he was afraid the goats would eat the grass skirts!
  I posted on Facebook about my mentioning the Goat Man to the kids, and got a lot of comments from those who had seen him.
  Oh, in the question and answer period following my presentation, many of the questions were about the Goat Man.
  I had told students earlier that I was six years old before we got a telephone and a television at my house.
  One child asked me, “Was there food when you were a little boy?”
  That’s the first time I’ve been accused of being older than food!