Bill Russell, Russell, Basketball discussed on ESPN Daily

ESPN Daily


Completely how the game of college basketball has played. Right. I imagine every other team is like, we need a Bill Russell. The bad news there, of course, is that the Dons have the one and only. Oh yeah, I do want to be fair to the block list Bill Russell here, but the changes that he put into motion because he was in constant motion, this was a real thing, like rules were actually legislated. Yeah, after that season, it became the Russell rules where they changed established rules in the sport just because this one man messed it all up in one season. So one thing that they changed was the steer shot, which is basically tipping the ball back into the basket within the cylinder, so that's now offensive goaltending. So couldn't do that anymore. Right. Why Russell was jumping so high that he could steer the ball downward into the hoop, which everyone realized, like, that seems unfair. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we can't just let the 16 guy get away with that. The next thing was, why didn't he lay from 6 feet to 12 feet? Because again, he would just stand there and steer the shot into the basket. And then the last one, which is very, very unique, I think, to USF, was that you could no longer inbound the basketball over the basket all because farmer and Russell had this kind of one two game that they would do. He and I actually worked out a plan back in that time or I would shoot the ball over the backboard on a out of bounds and he would grab it and Duncan. And then they changed that rule and you couldn't take it out underneath the basket anymore. That's great. I love that. It's hilarious that Bill Russell and this guy would just essentially put it where no one could touch it. Over and over again. But by the next season, the element of surprise, of course, was lost. Not only are the rules different, but everybody is expecting this, yeah, game changing figure to be as good as anyone they've ever seen play basketball. And so how did year two go? With the Dons. Yeah, in my story, I compare it to rocky one and rocky two. An original rocky, you know, he's a little buff, but like he's, you know, he's every day, man, so he's not too cut. And then in rocky two, he comes back, cut his hell. And that is exactly what the Dons did. They started off the season winning their first ten games by average of almost 18 points. They're closest win was 7 points over marquette, and that's the closest they would come to losing until Bill Russell left the program. There's no competition for them. So with that in mind, woolpert put them in more established, more competitive tournaments outside of the West Coast conference. One of which was this holiday fest tournament at Madison Square Garden where they went up against holy cross who had a star in Tom Heine, who would be a future teammate of Bill Russell's with the Celtics, riot. Russell scored 24 points and grabbed 22 rebounds against them. The coach from holy cross says it's going to be a pleasure to play Tommy heights and against Russell. And we kicked their butts. So that was kind of rewarding. And actually Bill got a laugh out of that one. It was better competition, but not that much. So by the end of January of that season, they pulled off 38 consecutive wins, which was at the time one win shy of the record 39 wins in a row. But then the shenanigans started. What kind of shenanigans are we talking about as the Dons and Bill Russell are on the doorstep of breaking this record? So before I got to 38 wins, it was understood that seton hall and Long Island university both won 39 consecutive games. And that was the record. But suddenly when the Dons got to 38 wins, now seeing hall and Long Island university, one 43 games in a row. Wait, what? What do we got out to that point? Yeah, you heard a lot about the streaks. That actually was a benefit for us because it gave us a challenge. And that was something that we didn't have most of the year. It was a challenge. Now we got a goal. So the downs are like, all right. Let's win 5 more. And so when they got to almost breaking that record, suddenly Kansas state teachers college of Pittsburgh had won 47 straight games from 1929 to 1930. Wait, so it has to be very blunt about this. They went back in the record books and revised made up. How did they justify why these numbers were suddenly bigger and therefore, yeah, not quite as breakable by Bill Russell. Well, Pablo, this was a 1940s and 50s and 60s. They had to justify a goddamn thing. They just did it. Yeah, that's a good point. Which means I guess that they could just keep this sort of racket going for as long as they wanted to. Oh yeah, I didn't say that to say that it's stopped right there. The USF broke that record in one 48 games in a row. But then out of nowhere, a school called Peru state teachers college won 55 straight games from 1922 to 1926. I'm sorry. That school just seems fake though. That's just, I refuse to believe that's an actual school. No, man, it's the bishop sycamore of the 1930s. This school didn't exist, and if they did, they were playing middle school teams or something like that. This is fake news. But wait, but the point is that the mark is now 55 wins. And so to get there, what are the Dons need to do? They would have to not only win out the rest of the regular season, but they would have to run the table in the tournament as well. So basically when two championships in two years, that's the only way they were going to master record, not even break it, but match it. And the reason why the record became so contentious and all these new schools started being added, doctor kazusa has a theory of why that might have been. Part of it might have been to reflect some of the doubts about USF, that we're still around in the mid 1950s. Because they played it unusual style because they're superstar was someone who people were still trying to figure out. And because they were primarily African American team at a time when college basketball was a predominantly white game stone. And so in March of madness starts, how good was this predominantly white game at? Yes, finally figuring out how to stop Bill Russell. I can walk you through just how dominant they were. They play at UCLA in the first round, beat them by 11. They play Utah in the next round, beat them by 15. They play SMU in the final four, beat them by 14, and then in championship game against Iowa, they beat them by 12 points. Yeah, damn. That's not close. No, not at all. And Bill Russell was a big part of that. For instance, in the championship game, he had 26 points, 27 rebounds. And again, they didn't tally block, but let's just assume he had ten of those too. It was just, they were unstoppable at that point. It was just a machine. Yeah, I'm doing the math on this, and they get to 55. They get to 55 by winning the championship a second year in a row, but notably, importantly, they don't break the record at the very least Bill Russell personally does not get to break that record. He ties it. Right, so he gets drafted by the Boston Celtics sometime after that, so he's not gonna be around for that next season to see them actually break the record, which they do. They actually even push the record to 60 consecutive games one. It changes the entire trajectory of the school, starting with the fact that now they have a home gym to play in, which is called war memorial janae's in which they still play into this day, the homeless Dons were no more. He changed his entire game a basketball, became more vertical. It became faster. It became all these things just because of Bill Russell. And Mike farmer was there. He had a front row seat to it, and

Coming up next