NCAA Basketball: Things Were Sure Different Back In The Day

You will rarely see me link and quote an interview with a Duke Blue Devils player, but sometimes the stories even from teams we dislike are just too good not to be shared.  Such is the case with this Duke Basketball Report interview with former Duke player Kenny Dennard.  It's about six years old and tongue in cheek, but there's some interesting stuff in there.

Now, I know many of you are too young to remember Dennard, but for those who aren't, he was a freshman starter on the 1977-78 Duke team that Kentucky defeated along with fellow frosh Gene Banks.  Dennard was one of those guys, you know, the guy that will stick his nose in there and get dirty and not mind the fact that he crushed your nose with his elbow.  He rarely scored many points, mostly on stick-backs and layups, but would fight you for every possession -- so hard, in fact, that he was known for fouling out a lot, which he did versus UK -- twice, in fact, in 1978 and 1980.  In the 1977-78 season, Dennard fouled out five times starting with his very first game in a Duke uniform.

But none of that is why I'm putting this up here.  This is, Dennard's recollection of how he got noticed by D-1 coaches back in the day:

FIVE STAR [basketball camp] was played outdoors on asphalt courts …… and we played shirts and skins …… I had averaged between 15-20 points per game my junior year in high school, but at FIVE STAR I couldn’t score at all the very first day. You see, the baskets were even more horrible than playing on the asphalt, and it was tough for a suburban kid like me who had never played outdoors on these playground style hoops to score like the New York City kids at FIVE STAR.

So during the first night at camp sleeping in my cabin with guys who were huge names in high school in 1976, I decided a new tactic was  necessary to get noticed. The next day I was the only kid diving for loose balls and taking charges on the asphalt …… I would literally be bleeding profusely in every game, while never stopping running and playing defense like a possessed person.

It worked … by Wednesday of the camp, I had the attention of most of the 200 college coaches that were scouting the camp.

Can you imagine today's entitled high-major athletes doing this?  Not in a million years.  No YouTube, very little instant replay, no ESPN moments. You really must read down near the bottom his story about a game he played in the 1980 Mideast Regional against UK, and try to imagine that happening today.

It's a great read, even if a lot of it is Duke stuff and even if he sometimes exudes that Duke attitude that makes the Blue Devils so universally loathed.  Ignore all that, and I think you'll enjoy it for the historical insights it provides.

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