Reliving The Memories: 1966 Cinderella Texas Western

Trey BotkinContributor IFebruary 23, 2010

HEAD COACH OF UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS EL PASO DON HASKINS ON THE SIDELINE.
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I'm sure many of you, as avid sports fans, have seen the great movie Glory Road. The story of high school girls' basketball coach Don Haskins making his way to the Division I level and putting together a team at Texas Western.

Haskins didn't just put a team together, he changed history.

With almost every basketball team in the South, the average team consisted of 2.7 black players on average. Don Haskins, when recruiting for players, picked up seven. And with these seven "athletes", was he supposed to do something with that?

Bobby Joe Hill, Harry Flournoy, Nevil Shed, Willie Cager, Orsten Artis, David Lattin, and Willy Worsely were his Negro prospects.

In their first season as a team with seven Negroes and five whites, trouble was bound to happen until the rest of the country could get used to the fact that black athletes are the real dominating players.

After winning 23 straight games and heading into Seattle, things were getting rougher as the season progressed. After the game before the Seattle game, the Texas Western Miner basketball players found something on their walls.

Blood. They were getting to the fans, but now the fans wanted some revenge for their team. As the frightened athletes got their blood-soaked apparel and whatnot, they immediately got onto the bus for Seattle.

A team that would never, ever be the same.

Seattle outworked the Miners the entire 40 minutes of the game. Tired, disgusted, and aggravated with one another, the team went into the NCAA tournament with not-so-good-feelings.

Easy victory after victory. Finally came Kansas, in the Elite 8, where black All-American Jo Jo White played. He knew how to score just like Duke's Bob Verga, one of the best scorers in the country.

This Kansas-Texas Western match was a nail-biter. And it took 50 minutes of play to settle and find a winner. At the end of the second overtime, with the score 81-80 in TW's favor, with the final seconds ticking, Jo Jo White took a shot from the corner on the right side of the basket.

Swish......

With everybody thinking Jo Jo White made the shot clean, he stepped out of bounds, however. The referree caught it, calling the amazing, contested shot by Jerry Armstrong off.

This has always been a controversy for Kansas fans. The only sign of impartial evidence is that White's foot may have been over the sideline, but not touching the line directly. Does that make sense?

Maybe it was just a shadow over the line... But there's nothing Kansas can do about it now. That game was 34 years ago next month.

So, heading into the national championship against highly favored Kentucky, the Miners looked for a Cinderella finish. Kentucky coach Adolf Rupp had won four previous national championships, and he overlooked the Miners a little too much.

Coach Don Haskins (TW) expected Rupp to run a 1-3-1 zone on them in the final, and Rupp didn't disappoint. Haskins set up an offense that attacked that zone that made him look like a genius.

A 72-65 defeat over All-Americans Pat Riley and point guard Louie Dampier shocked the world.

Forever. Sports has never been the same. And thank goodness!

What we would now interpret as a "sissy-game" compared to today's competition, maybe even in high school's standards, this game taught everyone that we're all humans.

Race doesn't mean a damn thing. We're all the same.

And we owe it all to Don Haskins, who was able to look past the simple color of skin on those seven athletes, and win a national championship.

Don Haskins died September 7, 2008 in El Paso, home of the UTEP Miners. A hero forever, Don Haskins made a difference.

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