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.
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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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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 9:56 am

Fifty years ago today, 10/25/68, the U.S. basketball team beat Yugoslavia, 65-50, to capture the Gold Medal in the 1968 Olympics. U-D-bound Spencer Haywood scored 21 points and dominated the boards in the championship game.

A nice article from yesterday’s Colorado’ Springs Gazette, the hometown newspaper of the junior college Haywood attended for his freshman year:

https://gazette.com/sports/david-ramsey ... fce63.html

An interview with Haywood about the ‘68 Olympics:

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

Postby NC Titan » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:58 am

Watch the YouTube interview and the amazing detail is the size of Spender's hands. He's a bit guy to begin with, but then you see those enormous hands.

ESPN has a special running now about love of basketball, and it has some pretty cool footage from the '68 Olympics.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:00 pm

Fifty years ago tomorrow, 11/30/1968, Spencer Haywood played his first game for the University of Detroit. The following is a great writeup of the contest authored by Commissioner. I don’t think he would mind if I copied and shared the words on the Detroit Titan Hoops message board on the eve of this anniversary date. Commish ranked this game #72 on his list of Top 100 Great Titan Wins.


#18 Detroit 105, Aquinas 40.

It wasn't the opponent, or even the lopsided score, but the hopes that this game gave rise to that rank it so high. Spencer Haywood’s much anticipated career opened with a smashing (literally) victory over outmatched Aquinas College. With Detroit ahead 105-40 and six and a half minutes left to play, Haywood smashed home a dunk shot with such force that it shattered the glass backboard. Mercifully, the clubs agreed to simply call the game, rather than leave poor Aquinas to muddle through another six minutes after a long delay to replace the board (or worse, calling the game a forfeit by the Titans). Haywood’s dunk was illegal under college rules at the time – Haywood said he did it to avoid being undercut by an Aquinas player while going in for a layup. No one protested the dunk – Aquinas was undoubtedly glad to get off the court.

The Titans entered the season ranked 18th in the AP pre-season poll, a first for UD, on the strength of Haywood’s promise. After Lew Alcindor and Elvin Hayes boycotted the Olympic games, Haywood had led the young American Olympic team to a gold medal, topping the team in scoring and rebounding and knocking down 23 points in the gold medal game despite a case of stomach flu. Olympic coach Hank Iba proclaimed, “Haywood could become the best basketball player there has ever been.”

The Aquinas game marked a stunning major college debut for Detroit’s Olympic hero, who scored 36 points and grabbed 31 rebounds in the game (why he was still in the game at the point of his dunk is a question for the late Coach Bob Calihan). In the process, Haywood alone matched Aquinas’s total for field goals. Calihan drolly stated after the game, “he performed as well as we thought he would. He’ll be better against better opponents.” Opening night suggested that it would indeed be a lively season in Detroit.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:19 pm

This article, from Bleacher Report, ranked Haywood’s game ending dunk in his U-D debut as #56 on a list of the top 100 greatest plays in college basketball history:

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/107 ... ry#slide45
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Rogobob77 » Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:05 pm

Taking the Titan Time Machine back 50 years to the last weekend of 1968 (December 27-28), when the University of Detroit beat Mississippi St. and Temple in the Motor City Tournament. The pair of victories ran the Titans’ record to 10-0, catapulting U-D to a #7 spot in the AP poll. In other historic events that week, the Apollo 8 astronauts completed man’s first trip to the moon’s orbit and back.

Commish ranked the Temple contest #23 on his list of “Top 100 Great Titan Wins.” The following are his written remembrances on that game, clearly the apex of the 1968-69 season, with additional remarks summarizing the disappointing last half of Spencer Haywood’s only year at U-D:
—————

The 8-0 Titans enjoyed Christmas Day, 1968 ranked 11th in the country (15th in the UPI poll). After a ten day layoff for finals and the holidays, they resumed play in the Motor City Classic. In the opening round, Spencer Haywood scored 32 points and grabbed 29 rebounds as the Titans trounced Mississippi St. 86-62. In the other game, Temple beat Miami of Ohio 67-62.

A traditional eastern power that had been in post-season play three years running and eight of the last 10, Temple appeared to pose a real threat to UD in the final. But Haywood hit his first 10 shots from the floor and the game was never in doubt. This victory was the Titans’ 12th in a row over two seasons, our third longest winning streak after the 21 game streak in 1977 and 16 in a row over the 1912, 1913, and 1914 seasons.

Temple dropped to 5-4 with the loss, but went on to finish 22-7 and win the NIT. The pair of wins landed Detroit at the #7 spot in the next week’s AP poll, the last time Detroit has been ranked in the top 10. After the vote but before that #7 ranking had even been published, Detroit lost its next game, 85-80 at Minnesota, despite 34 points and 17 rebounds by Haywood. The Titans then lost at Marquette (Haywood scored 35), to Dayton (30 points), and at Notre Dame (23), to fall from the rankings for the remainder of the season. The Titans eventually finishing a rather disappointing 16-10, and were reportedly the last team left out of the NIT.

—————
(Rogobob postscript: The Titans 1968-69 schedule included a full half-dozen cupcakes. Counted in the team’s 16 W’s were victories against Aquinas, Western Ontario, Windsor, Hillsdale, John Carroll, and Baldwin-Wallace. U-D had several big margin road losses the second half of season, falling to Villanova by 22, Xavier by 37, and Boston College by 27. Spencer would leave U-D at the end of the season, Coach Bob Calihan got booted upstairs to the AD position, and overall the season must be considered by all objective measures a major missed opportunity for the program.)
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Resurget Cineribus » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:41 pm

I was an 8 year old that season and went to most of the games, but I can’t recall what happened in the second half of the year. But it does go to show you it takes more than 1 player.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby NC Titan » Mon Dec 24, 2018 3:30 pm

That single season is remembered at UDM in part because Haywood led the nation in rebounding average (22 per game) but often left unmentioned is that he also scored an amazing 32 per game. That tops the NCAA season leaders for the past 30 years. Yet in 1968 it was fourth place, behind Pete Maravich, Rick Mount and (I think) Calvin Murphy.

No shot clock, no 3-point line.....

At that scoring rate, without allowing for improvements as a junior and senior, Haywood would have scored 2,304 points in his three seasons at Detroit, just 15 points shy of Rashad Phillips four-year total and Titan all-time record.
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Re: Semicentennial of Haywood’s Year as Olympian & Titan

Postby Commissioner » Tue Dec 25, 2018 1:33 am

Rogobob77 wrote:
—————
(Rogobob postscript: The Titans 1968-69 schedule included a full half-dozen cupcakes. Counted in the team’s 16 W’s were victories against Aquinas, Western Ontario, Windsor, Hillsdale, John Carroll, and Baldwin-Wallace. U-D had several big margin road losses the second half of season, falling to Villanova by 22, Xavier by 37, and Boston College by 27. Spencer would leave U-D at the end of the season, Coach Bob Calihan got booted upstairs to the AD position, and overall the season must be considered by all objective measures a major missed opportunity for the program.)


I don't disagree with Rogobob's assessment, but we should also note that the Titan schedule had more than its share of tough games.

Those included St. Bonaventure (ranked #10 when the Titans beat them 71-68 in December), Mississippi State, Temple (eventual NIT champs, when that meant a lot), @ Minnesota, home & home with Marquette (ranked #14 at end of year, NCAA final 8), Dayton (ranked as high as #17, NCAA at-large bid), home & home with Notre Dame (ranked as high as #4, #17 at end of season, NCAA), @ Duquesne (ranked #9 at year-end, Sweet 16), @ Toledo, @ La Salle (ranked #2 at game time and year-end, but on probation so no post-season), @ Boston College (#16 at year-end, lost NIT final to Temple), and @ Villanova (#10 at year end, NCAA).

Overall, the Titans' schedule was the 14th toughest in the nation, although that excludes the 6 non-D1 games Rogobob lists above. That means we went 10-10 against tough D1 competition--about like a Big 10 or ACC team that goes .500 in conference play today, and rolls up a bunch of easy non-conference wins. That team today typically finishes about 21-12 and gets a 9 seed or so in the NCAA.

How much did Haywood matter? With Haywood, the Titans beat Xavier by 14. With Haywood suspended for two games (for punching a ref!) the Titans lost to Xavier by 37, and beat Baldwin Wallace by just 4 points. The other starters on that team were Larry Moore, Jim Jackson, Dwight Dunlop, and Jerry Swartzfager.
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