20 Years Later

It all started with those NCAA commercials. You know the ones I’m talking about. A few non-descript athletes on the television screen all participating in their particular sport. The commercial closes with those athletes saying: I’m going pro next year, but not in sports. The better half commented: “Yeah, what do these guys do?” She piqued my interest, and off I went on my quest to dig up the past.

Knowing that a little nostalgia can create some interest, I decided to go back a couple of decades and maybe see what the guys from 1987 are doing. Twenty years – that is a nice round number. I consulted Crossword Pete: “P do you know of any databases that would include entire rosters from teams of the past?” Little did I know how relentlessly P would seek to fulfill my request. Less than twenty-four hours later he came back with www.sportsstats.com. Quickly, I started on my venture.

1987 – the first year the NCAA used the three point shot and Keith Smart hit the shot heard round the basketball world. Keith Smart, two syllables that still cause anguish on Marshall Street in the shadows of the Carrier Dome. Smart’s shot with four seconds remaining gave the Indiana Hoosiers a victory over the Syracuse Orangemen in the NCAA chan’ship game. Currently Smart is an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, the team that drafted him out of college. Smart only played a couple games in the NBA. He went on to play nine seasons in the CBA before settling into a coaching gig with the Cleveland Cavaliers. At one point he served as the interim head coach of the Cavs’.

No discussion of the ’87 Hoosiers would be complete without Steve “Socks, Shorts, 1-2-3” (For the young bucks this is the routine Alford went through before each of his free throws. The Hoosier student body used to chant this call as he toed the line. Somehow these tidbits of random sports trivia serve one of the purposes of this blog – sharing our history of sports) Alford. He played a few years in the NBA before settling into a coaching position at the University of Iowa. Alford recently signed a contract to coach at the University of New Mexico.

Daryl Thomas, another starter for Bobby Knight’s Hoosiers, currently plays professional hoops in England.

Steve Eyl, a valuable role player and defensive stopper, put his Marketing degree to use. He is the president of Sound Technologies, a medical imaging company.

After signing a minor league contract with the Oakland A’s, Joe Hillman, a sophomore guard on the team, played professionally in Australia before returning to the state of Indiana. He works as a regional supervisor for MED Distribution.

Magnus Pelkowski earned a business degree in finance and has since moved to Germany.

Brian Sloan has returned to school and is continuing to work on his sports medicine degree.

Rony Seikaly, the center for the Orange, enjoyed eleven seasons in the NBA. He was a first round pick of the Miami Heat. Now he owns a real estate investment company and sponsors an annual golf tournament with all proceeds going to research for a cure to cystic fibrosis. Syracuse retired Seikaly’s uniform this past season.

Teammate Sherman Douglas played twelve seasons in the NBA. He too had his uniform retired by the university. Derrick Coleman also went on the NBA. He became the poster-child for NBA petulance.

Greg Monroe, the steady shooting guard for the Orange, returned to his hometown of Rochester. He works as a regional service manager for Enviro-Tech of America. He also spends his time working with inner-city kids.

Howard Triche returned to Syracuse. He works for the Anheuser-Busch Company as a group manager. He also has entered the Ph.D. program at his alma mater.

Herman Harried is the Athletic Director at Lake Clifton high school. He also coaches the boys’ basketball team at the school.

Stephen Thompson, a freshman on the ’87 team, coaches the Cal-State LA team.

Ralph Willard recently completed his eighth season as the head coach at Holy Cross.

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels ranked number one in the last regular season poll of 1987. Armon Gilliam led the Rebs in scoring that year. He later played thirteen seasons in the NBA.

Freddie Banks, who knocked down ten three pointers in the semi-final game versus Indiana, was drafted by the Pistons. He played in the World Basketball League and now coaches high school basketball in Las Vegas.

Gerald Paddio has bounced around the world of professional basketball. He was drafted by the Celtics out of college and played a few years in the CBA and overseas. Paddio recently played for the Las Vegas team of the ABA.

Mark Wade, the point guard for UNLV, set several assist records during the ’86-’87 season. He has since returned to the coaching ranks.

Stacey Cvijanovich, a freshman on the team, now works as a manager at Ceasar’s Palace.

Leon Symanksi completed his Business Management degree and returned to get his Masters in Public Administration. He later became part of the first graduating class from the Boyd School of Law. He is now an attorney for the Craig Kenny and Associates firm.

Among his endeavors Eldridge Hudson works as the voice of Biggie Smalls on South Park.

Who could forget the Providence Friars of 1987? They upset the Georgetown Hoyas to advance to the Final Four. Their point guard? None other than Billy Donovan. This weekend Donovan hopes to keep his Florida Gators from enduring the fate of the ’87 Hoyas. How fitting that he might face Georgetown and their coach, John Thompson III –the son of ’87 Hoya coach, John Thompson II.

Marty Conlon, a teammate of Donovan’s, played for nine seasons in the NBA. He also played for the Irish national team and served as the country’s head coach.

Ryan Ford works for the Josten’s ring company in Massachusetts.

Carlton Screen is a high school teacher in New York City.

Jacek Duda works for Bank of America.

James Best works in the NBA offices.

David Snedeker lives in Los Angeles. He owns a movie company and has written and produced several pieces for the big screen.

Several other players came into prominence during the 1986-87 season: B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr, Reginald Williams, Jerome Lane, David Robinson, Kevin Houston, and Fennis Dembo to name a few.

Darrin Fitzgerald, a shooting guard for the Butler Bulldogs, attempted 362 shots from behind the arc in this the first season the NCAA accepted the three point line. Fitzgerald also made 5.6 three-pointers per game. Both of these marks still stand as NCAA records.

Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane. For those of us too young to remember – hope you enjoyed the history lesson. Gee, maybe I’m not just an English teacher. Farnsworth and Moon will love that comment.

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