Which player made you fall in love with March Madness?

Just Gopher It!!

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The ‘80s was definitely the greatest decade of college basketball ever. The talent was insane, and they regularly stayed in college for 3-4 years before going pro. Watch the Requiem for the Big East 30 for 30 to remind yourself how magical college hoops was then, in that conference and across the country.
Great post. 85 season with three Big East teams on the FF - never see that from another conference - capped off by Nova's epic upset. I loved the coaches of that era. Who wouldn't want to play for a Rollie or a Louie;. Big John,gotta be honest, scared the hell out of me. Also knowledge of the cheating wasn't as widely known then - almost like you still believes in Santa.
 
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MisterGopher

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Bill Walton. Many of the others mentioned I can agree with, but Bill Walton is the first one I wanted to become.
 

goldenboy

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Adrian Dantley. Played for Digger at ND in the early 70s. He was Barkley before Barkley. Powerful undersized forward that could really score.
 

bookie

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Bill Walton, 1973, against Memphis State. 21/22 from field when dunks were not allowed. Got me to switch from NBA fan to college hoops fan.
 

WindyCityGopher

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This is somewhat off topic, but also related, since this team further ignited my love of college hoops. At the peak of my love for college basketball was the 1984 Olympic team, which in my opinion was the original Dream Team (or at least the amateur version of it). I loved everything about that team (well, except maybe Bobby Knight as coach, since I never liked the man), and followed it from the tryouts through the gold medal winning game. Aside from the great talent that made the team: Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Wayman Tisdale, Sam Perkins, Steve Alford, Alvin Robertson, what amazes me to this day is the incredible talent that didn't make the team. Just look at the guys Knight cut: Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Joe Dumars (Hall of Famers, all), plus other great college players who went on to long and productive NBA careers like A.C. Green, Dell Curry, Ty Corbin, Terry Porter, Chuck Person, Michael Cage, Antoine Carr and Ed Pinckney (who led Villanova to the national title the following season). I think the guys who were cut could've competed for gold; but ultimately the embarrassment of riches spoke to the high level of talent college basketball was pumping out in the mid-80s. The Golden Age indeed.
 

Frink

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This is somewhat off topic, but also related, since this team further ignited my love of college hoops. At the peak of my love for college basketball was the 1984 Olympic team,
Fortunate to see them at the Metrodome against a team of NBA players with MN connections. I'm sure a lot of Holers were there as well. My dad and I had nosebleed seats but it was totally worth it.

Favorite part came when my dad hand me the binoculars and told me to watch Olberding slamming his forearm into Ewing's kindneys while playing post D. Sure enough, Olberding was just rabbit punching him. Eventually Ewing turned on him like he had a slight notion of throwing a punch.:)

As you mentioned, it's crazy some of the players that didn't make it, while Leon Wood and Vern Fleming did!
 

go_gophers

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This is somewhat off topic, but also related, since this team further ignited my love of college hoops. At the peak of my love for college basketball was the 1984 Olympic team, which in my opinion was the original Dream Team (or at least the amateur version of it). I loved everything about that team (well, except maybe Bobby Knight as coach, since I never liked the man), and followed it from the tryouts through the gold medal winning game. Aside from the great talent that made the team: Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Wayman Tisdale, Sam Perkins, Steve Alford, Alvin Robertson, what amazes me to this day is the incredible talent that didn't make the team. Just look at the guys Knight cut: Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Joe Dumars (Hall of Famers, all), plus other great college players who went on to long and productive NBA careers like A.C. Green, Dell Curry, Ty Corbin, Terry Porter, Chuck Person, Michael Cage, Antoine Carr and Ed Pinckney (who led Villanova to the national title the following season). I think the guys who were cut could've competed for gold; but ultimately the embarrassment of riches spoke to the high level of talent college basketball was pumping out in the mid-80s. The Golden Age indeed.
I also went to the exhibition game they played at the Metrodome. It was the first basketball game played at the Dome and my first time watching McHale outside of Williams Arena, which I was barely old enough to remember.

My answer to this thread is Steve Alford. I marveled at how a short, (6'2") slow guy like him could take over a game. I was 10 years old in 1984 and he was the first guy I idolized. (I always thought if I could get to 6'2" I had no excuses. Didn't get to 6'2" and never made the Olympic team. Weird.)
 

sal

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Not a single player. Always a team.
I agree. I always think in terms of teams I enjoyed and of their collective parts.
I loved the 1988 Rhode Island team. Tom Garrick (his blind father, a WWII hero) and Silk Owens in the back court, Bonzie Colson and the nearly unstoppable Kenny Green down low. Green was always the best athlete on the court but...had a bad knee. He was still more than a handful. The beat Syracuse with Coleman, Douglas, Stevie Thompson and Seikaly. In the sweet 16 they lost to Duke. Hated Duke then, still do.
 

Some guy

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Bobby Jackson.
I’m a bit younger. That’s the first basketball season I remember...even though it never happened.
 

fan of Ray Williams

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I'm going with Cazzie Russell.

Shout out for Bobby Joe Hill.
 
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boston.gopher

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Willie Burton and the Gophers sweet 16 and elite 8 performances were really what got me hooked. However, if we are talking about one player not on the Gophers I'd have to say Rumeal Robinson with Michigan. The Michigan vs Seton Hall championship game is one that I'll never forget.
 

Golden Yooper

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Larry Bird - it was just his sheer will to win and carry his team on his back. Fun to watch that small school take on the larger programs.
 

golf

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Bird - Johnson matchup hooked me for life. Even though I was a huge MJ fan, Bird/Magic had a greater influence on both college and pro ball.
 

row19gopher

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Many names come to mind: Walton, Bird, & Magic top my list;
Gophers: Willie Burton & Bobby Jackson were fun to watch also.
Great post - great memories
 

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Lou Alcindor dominating as a UCLA Bruin.

After that it was Larry Bird bringing little Indiana State to the championship against Magic and the Spartans.
Lew was the greatest college player of all time, and it wasn’t close. Dominant. Put him on any team, they win the title.
 
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