Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

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Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:30 pm

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Spencer Hayward’s 1968 summer Olympic gold medal (he was the leading scorer on that team) and the start of the 1968-69 season that earned him consensus first-team All-American accolades as a Titan. I realize that the UDM and NBA hall-of-famer was honored in a ceremony just a couple years ago when Detroit Mercy retired his jersey number, but it would be great if the University could bring him back for a return visit this coming season. Perhaps there could be a campus showing of the documentary “Full Court”(http://www.fullcourtfilm.com/), a film that includes quite a bit of screen time about Haywood’s accomplishments as an Olympian and his year at U-D.

One interesting thing I found out when checking out the Wikipedia article on the ‘68 Olympics that took place in Mexico City: they were played much later in the calendar (October 13-25) than I would have thought. I assume that meant that Haywood was gone from campus for most if not all of the first two months of his college career. I was only 13 that autumn and don’t have any personal recollections about Haywood’s transition from Olympian to collegian, but would be interested in hearing about that from anyone who might be a little older than me. I do recall my gym teacher at Detroit’s Farwell Jr. High (close to Pershing HS, where Haywood graduated from in 1967) talked all the time about Spencer’s game results as a Titan, but I never made it to the “big house” that season to watch a game.
Last edited by Rogobob77 on Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rongrad1962 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:12 pm

Bob - It probably was the most exciting year in Titan basketball history, although the DeBusschere & Charlie North years are a close second. I saw every game Spencer played that year, both home and away, except for the second contest in Philadelphia. The very first game was the most amazing, as the Titans were leading Aquinas 105-40, with about 6 minutes left in the game when Spencer came down the court, rose up and slammed down an explosive dunk, shattering the glass backboard. Dunks were not allowed back then. I also don't know if they counted the basket or not.

Glass flew every which way and the crowd was stunned by loud noise and action. Here was our Olympic hero showing up for his first game as a Man against boys. The crowd just stood in awe, not knowing what to do or say. Finally, the officials announced, because they couldn't replace the backboard, that the game was over, even though there was still several minutes remaining on the clock. After that many of us still stunned, adjourned to the Titan Room for a drink to settle our nerves and salute our new hero. Too bad, you missed it Bob.

P. S. Also, at many of the road games that year, the opposing school would host a ceremony recognizing Spencer for leading the USA team to victory. These were very touching moments to observe. Usually the crowds at away games as very boisterous toward their opponents - many times downright rude. But they gave Spencer a standing ovation at each of the ceremonies.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby NC Titan » Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:06 pm

My mother was the most sports non-fan you could find, but for whatever reason she (and I, of course) were captivated by Haywood at the Olympics that year. I missed his UofD career but was ever so excited to meet him in the Titan Club a few years ago.

Whatever we can do to link ourselves to that glory -- and Big Dave and the Vitale teams -- should be done.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:05 pm

A link to an article from a few years back focusing on Spencer Haywood’s recollections of the 1968 Olympics:

https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/boston ... mpics-hall
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:10 pm

An interview with Spencer Haywood specific to the 1968 Olympic games:

https://youtu.be/AgtOxpx6PNM
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:53 pm

I did a little research on this topic today, including perusal of old Varsity News articles. Here’s the timeline relating to Haywood and the Olympics and his decision to come to the University of Detroit in 1968:

- The first game played by team USA in the preliminary rounds took place on October 13.

- The final game for the Gold Medal was played on October 25.

- On Thursday, October 31, Haywood is welcomed to U-D at a reception held in the Student Union Ballroom.

Hard to believe given the way things work today, but It appears that Haywood’s decision on what college to attend was made several weeks after the start of the Fall ‘68 semester coinciding with the run for Olympic Gold. According to a VN article, there was speculation during the games that he might end up at the University of Michigan or New Mexico.

The November 1, 1968, VN provides this quote from Haywood on why he decided to become a Titan: “I finally realized what I wanted to do after basketball. U-D has the radio and TV program I needed so I decided to come here.”
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:20 am

A few more items for the Spencer Haywood pre-Titan timeline.

In March of 1967, Haywood helped Detroit Pershing win the Michigan Class A State High School Championship. He was coached there by the legendary Will Robinson.

Haywood played his freshman year at Trinidad Junior College. His stats for the 1967-68 season were 27.1 ppg, 23.2 rpg (led the nation in rebounding). His best scoring outing in JC was 49 points. The school is located in Colorado.

The Olympic trials were held during the spring of 1968 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That might explain in part why the Lobos figured into his D-1 college options.

In June of 1968, Haywood participated on a 10-game State Department tour of Yugoslavia, Russia and Finland. His stats for that stint were 18 ppg, 19 rpg.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby titanmac » Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:35 pm

https://timeline.com/slam-dunk-history- ... 30cfa5860e. here’s s’more historical tidbits.
In Greek mythology, the Titans were greater even than the gods. They ruled their universe with absolute power! Well that basketball court out there tonight, that's our universe. Let's rule it like Titans! (with apologies to coach boon)
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby StJoeUofD » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:01 pm

We were all surprised when he came. There were rumors that we might get him, but no one really thought he would end up at U of D. The dormies were beyond estatic when he had a room on campus. If my memory is correct, they modified two single rooms into a double room for him. (It's been 50 years so the memory is a bit vague.)

Spencer had his own radio broadcast on the campus station. Probably one of the things that attracted him.
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