clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Greg Anthony Drinks The Kool-Aid

Twenty-two years later, the refs did it.

Mar 30, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; CBS analyst Greg Anthony (left) forme Kansas coach Larry Brown (center) and Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self talk during practice the day before the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four at th
Mar 30, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; CBS analyst Greg Anthony (left) forme Kansas coach Larry Brown (center) and Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self talk during practice the day before the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four at th

The Duke-gets-all-the-calls idea does have legs. The latest guy to comment though really should know better.

In a Tweet exchange, Greg Anthony said this:

Hard to beat the refs. “: were the refs in the 91 Duke game the toughest opponent you faced that year? :)”

Let's get in the way-back machine and consider this.

If you'll remember, in 1990, UNLV destroyed Duke in the NCAA Championship. Duke had freshman Bobby Hurley at the point, and most unfortunately, Hurley had to leave the game more than once for bathroom emergencies.

In the '91 Final Four, Kansas and UNC were on one side, while Duke and UNLV were set for a rematch on the other.

One of the great experiences of our lives was being there.

The UNLV fans were insufferable. Our favorite was an elderly lady in a leather mini skirt with a T-shirt that said "the NCAA doesn't know diddly,"  a take-off on Nike's Bo Jackson campaign.

Outside, street vendors had printed T-shirts which said BACK TO BACK with an undefeated record for UNLV.

The thing was, and we remember this distinctly, UNLV was playing tight in the tournament. The game with Georgetown, a good but hardly great team, was far tighter than it should have been.

We thought Duke had a chance. It was a very different team. Christian Laettner posed some real matchup problems and Grant Hill, even as a freshman, was clearly on a different planet than most players of the time.

We sat next to a couple of really nice UNC fans and enjoyed chatting. When Kansas came on, though, instinctively, we stood up to cheer.

"You're not pulling for the ACC team?"

"Uh, no, sorry."

Our new friend pointed at the rafters. "Three of the teams here have titles, he said. "Maybe you'll have one one day."

Whatever. They were great guys, and we enjoyed the game, and they sincerely wished us good luck when they left.

When UNLV first entered the arena, near the end of the UNC-Kansas game, the crowd reaction was just remarkable. It wasn't booing. It was more hissing, just a clear sense of disgust and disapproval. The body language of the Rebels was not good and we were pretty sure that, as we had thought, they were tight.

What you have to also remember is at this point, Duke was not really Duke. Coach K was in his 11th year, and Duke had a rep more like Butler's, of a team that could get there but not close the deal.

An awful lot of people in that gym were hoping Duke could stop Vegas, including a lot of UNC fans, who probably thought that Duke would be easier to beat.

As the game started, it was clear that UNLV was indeed very tight. It wasn't the swashbuckling aggressiveness of the year before. UNLV was not the aggressor, at least not consistently. Duke actually defended Larry Johnson with Greg Koubek - can you imagine?

George Ackles could not defend Laettner and Laettner's outside shooting meant that Vegas had to choose between guarding him or the lane. With Hurley, Hill, Thomas Hill and Brian Davis, the Blue Devils had enough athleticism to challenge Vegas.

And as the game wound down, Anthony fouled out. We're assuming he's referring to his fifth foul in his Tweet, a charge, but the man had four already. An intelligent player can manage that, and he's certainly an intelligent guy.

As the final seconds wound down, with Duke up 79-77, Larry Johnson had the ball at the three point line with a chance to hit a shot for the ages. What did he do? He passed. He passed the ball and passed on a chance for immortality.

Anthony Hunt ended up with a very long shot which bounced off the rim, and Duke pulled off a huge upset.  It was absolute bedlam, one of the greatest scenes in college basketball history. A chant of 34-1! sprang up.

Those T-shirts? They were marked down to $5.00.

Most of the energy for the Duke-gets-all-the-calls came from the Gary Williams era, and the writers from the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post buy in. So we thought we'd leave with a column posted from that game by the Sun's Don Markus, who was covering the game.

His column, as you'll see, has no suggestion that it was anything except a stunning game.

But it was a different time, with Duke liked and admired for knocking off mighty UNLV.

Still, of all people, Anthony should know better than to blame the refs, even all these years later.