The festivities started on Friday with a reception at the Warren Golf Course, followed by a 10:30am practice in the Joyce Center and a post-game gathering across from the Morris Inn. I wasn't able to attend the last event, but did get a chance to stop by the reception and practice.
Everyone seemed in good spirits. Bob Whitmore's health has improved and things are going much better for him. As usual, he and Collis Jones made the trek from the D.C. area -- they never miss one of these things. John Tully remains the best storyteller I interviewed, although Ed O'Rourke's tale of trying to get Tim Andree (Sr.) a contract with a team in Israel was definitely the highlight of the night (can't tell it here, couldn't possibly do it justice). Speaking of the big man, the Andree family is thrilled Tim Jr. is carrying on the Irish tradition, and with Tim Sr. no longer with the NBA, they'll be at plenty of games this year. Larry Jesewitz and his wife just celebrated their second wedding anniversary. Larry lost his first wife to cancer a few years back, and I like seeing good people happy. Dick Rosenthal is splitting time between Florida and South Bend these days. Tommy Hawkins wasn't able to make it, which was disappointing because he's probably one of my favorite hoops alums to talk to. Phonz was itching to get his new broadcast career started, although he was adamant that Jack Nolan could probably do it on his own. I got a chance to meet Dave Batton and Jason Williams, and both expressed interest in contributing to the next edition of EotH.
All-in-all, a wonderful time. But it wouldn't be a NftG entry if I wasn't complaining about something. Talking to a few of the guys, they mentioned one thing that could have made it even better: Have it earlier in the year.
Looking beyond the chilly weather, which is always a drag, the late date prevents the NBA folks in the Fighting Irish family from attending. When the schedule makes participation difficult for two of the greatest players in the program's history -- A.C., doing broadcast work for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and A.D., working as an assistant for the Denver Nuggets -- the schedule must needs tweaking. Besides the Big Two, Gary Brokaw, Pat Garrity, John Paxson, Troy Murphy, Matt Carroll, John MacLeod, and Chris Quinn are the names off the top of my head who could have attended.
I realize the ability to have a practice (and allow the guys to hang around an extra day for an exhibition game) is a driver for the scheduling decision, as probably is high schoolers coming to early games on official visits and taking up the coaches' time. But the NCAA is starting to loosen up regarding things in early Fall, so perhaps some kind of workout/scrimmage would be possible. And from my vantage point, there were some recruit-looking kids in attendance anyway.
Another thing I thought of: Have an old-timers game. No, I'm not suggesting that Collis Jones or Dick Rosenthal or Kelly Tripucka or any of those guys lace them up, although they'd be welcome. I'm talking about a laid-back scrimmage- or pickup-type game with some of the younger guys, maybe even against the current team. Imagine if you will David Rivers, Jason Williams, Troy Murphy, Tim Singleton, Matt Carroll, Pat Garrity, and LaPhonso Ellis playing against Russell Carter, Colin Falls, KMac, Tory Jackson, BammBamm, Rob Kurz, Zach Hillesland, et al. That's a game I'd enjoy watching.
One final note: I had the opportunity to discuss facility plans with some folks on campus during the reunion. As you know, one of my biggest concerns going into all this was the correct prioritization of practice facilities. After my chats at the reunion, I'm very confident that (a) the importance of practice facilities is being properly considered in the plans, even if they're not an immediate inclusion, and (b) the folks in charge have some good ideas how the need can be fulfilled. So I guess that means we can stop bugging them with correspondance ... for now.
And for putting the song in your head -- you're welcome.
Labels: nd basketball