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Original Issue

It Was More Than Just a Game

On March 23, 1963, Loyola of Chicago and the University of Cincinnati met for the NCAA championship—and college basketball entered a new era

At the very end, the long and tense game had an almost dreamy aspect to it. Larry Shingleton, the University of Cincinnati guard, said it seemed as if the players were all moving in slow motion, transformed somehow into shadows gliding in surreal patterns beneath the basket. Vic Rouse, the Loyola University forward, was aware of an apparent suspension of time, as if there were not just a few seconds left to play but an eternity. The score was tied at 58. The last shot of the overtime period would surely be taken by Jerry Harkness, Loyola's All-America forward, captain and leading scorer. And with seven seconds left, he did, indeed, have the ball. He dribbled in the left corner and tried with graceful fakes to free himself from the box that Cincinnati's Ron Bonham and Tony Yates had built around him with their bodies. Then, just as Harkness began to go up for his shot, Bonham got a hand—"two fingers," he remembers—on the ball. Harkness didn't want to attempt a shot while juggling the ball in midair, so he passed off to center Les Hunter at the free throw line. The clock had all but run out; Rouse floated to the right side of the basket, in the unlikely event that there was time for a rebound, as Hunter soared up and released the ball toward the hoop. "I've taken that shot in my mind's eye four thousand times these past 25 years," Hunter says. "And it's always the same." The players became spectators as the ball left Hunter's hand. "We all just seemed to freeze in place, "recalls Yates, the Cincinnati captain. "It was as if we were frozen in time. "

And so they seem to be. The 1963 NCAA title game between Loyola of Chicago and Cincinnati was surely one of the most memorable in tournament history: It was the last title game to be decided in overtime; the last one before UCLA began its intimidating reign of 10 championships, including seven in a row, over the next 12 years; the first one to be played under a lucrative new six-year television contract that launched college basketball into the big-money era; and, most significantly, the first in which the majority of players on both sides were black—or, as most of the nation was still saying back in March of 1963, Negro. Four of the Loyola and three of the Cincinnati starters were black. The only white players on the court at the beginning and end were Shingleton, Bonham and Loyola guard John Egan. And, with the lone exception of Cincinnati center George Wilson, who sat out four minutes in the second half because of foul trouble, every starter played the entire game.

While black players had been prominent in previous NCAA finals—the University of San Francisco's championship teams of 1955 and '56 were led by black stars Bill Russell, K.C. Jones and Hal Perry—they were still considered to be something of an aberration. Kansas's Wilt Chamberlain and Seattle's Elgin Baylor were the tournament's Outstanding Players in successive years, 1957 and '58, and Cincinnati itself was led into the tournament in the late '50s and early '60s by the great Oscar Robertson and All-America center Paul Hogue. By '63, black stars were accepted by the public, but black teams, excepting, of course, the Harlem Globetrotters, were not. That attitude may seem unfathomable, given the racial makeup of basketball today, but it represented the mood of much of the country 25 years ago.

"The unspoken rule then was two blacks at home, if you had to play them, and one on the road," says George Ireland, the Loyola coach in 1963. "I played four, and rarely substituted."

"No matter where we went, people didn't like us," says Jerry Lyne, Ireland's assistant then. Says Rouse, "We were, in fact, pariahs."

Ireland still keeps the voluminous file of racist hate mail he received that season. "I had all the letters to the players come through me, and I kept the worst of it from them," he says. "That may have been illegal, but I didn't want them reading that stuff." When Ireland's team played Loyola of the South in New Orleans in the 1962-63 season, his black players weren't allowed to ride in taxis or stay in the same hotel with the rest of the team—which consisted of Egan and a couple of rarely used substitutes.

Ireland exacted revenge by deliberately running up the score on southern teams. "Yes, I poured it to them," he says. "I was 20 years ahead of my time, and I wanted them to wake up and smell the coffee." During the 1962-63 regular season, his Ramblers walloped Loyola of the South 88-53, Memphis State 94-82, and Arkansas 81-62; in the NCAA regionals, they trounced Tennessee Tech 111-42 and Mississippi State 61-51; and in the NCAA semifinals, they routed Duke 94-75.

The Mississippi State game was closer than it might have been because Ireland admired the fortitude shown by the Maroons and their coach, Babe McCarthy, in coming north to play against an integrated team in defiance of a court injunction (see box, page 113). The game was played in East Lansing, Mich., and, says Ireland, "They had city police, state police, the FBI, the Secret Service, everybody there to see that nothing happened. The place was a fortress. I was so anxious to avoid an incident that I told Babe, 'Don't worry, we won't even so much as breathe on your boys.' But they had a pretty good team, and when they got ahead 10-4, I told our players, 'Go right ahead. Breathe on 'em.' "

The victory over Duke, accomplished against a team led by such outstanding players as Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins, was particularly gratifying, not only because the Blue Devils were ranked No. 2 in the country to Loyola's No. 3 but also because Ireland had said, "They don't play Negroes. Any good team with a predominantly Negro lineup could beat them."

The racial turmoil affected Ireland's players variously but profoundly. Egan, white and a native of Chicago, objected to Ireland's penchant for socking it to the southerners. "I didn't like the idea of embarrassing their players," he says. "And I thought it wasn't good for team morale to have guys sitting on the bench when we were up by 25 points. But I think I understood George. He was consistent, anyway."

Hunter, a black southerner, was behind Ireland all the way. "I wanted to run it up on those guys," he says. "We weren't just beating players. We were beating a student body, a system, the Klan. We weren't just playing a team, we were playing an ideology."

Hunter and Rouse had been recruited by Ireland from segregated Pearl High School in Nashville. Both had trouble adapting to life in an at least nominally integrated northern university. "Coming to Loyola was a tremendous adjustment for me," Hunter says today. "I'd lived in a segregated environment all my life. I didn't understand whites, and they didn't understand me. And Loyola, on the far North Side of town, was geographically wrong for us then. The girls we could date were on the South Side. It was hard even getting a haircut where we were. We got hassled by white gangs. How much more obvious could we have been, big and black as we were?"

"Retrospectively, coming to Loyola was one of the best decisions I ever made," says Rouse, who grew up in East St. Louis, Ill., and moved to Tennessee before his junior year in high school. "My father was a Baptist minister. Education was important to him, and academically Loyola was very good. I had professors there who didn't even know I played basketball. I liked that. Still, I don't think back on my college years as a happy period of my life. As a black and as a black athlete, I felt myself narrowly isolated in a white world. It was a physically and emotionally stressful time for me.

"We would play games when guys on the other teams were actually punching us on court. The only one who could respond to that was Jack [Egan]. And Jack would give it back to them. By the same token, if anyone attacked Jack, we were there. We were under tremendous pressure as a team, and George was under tremendous pressure as a coach. I think he was a little frightened, because at the time he was fighting for his job. He's such an intense person that he put pressure on himself and on us. He was a very difficult man. None of us really liked him very much, although I certainly can't fault his motives."

The player most disturbed by the racial tension was Harkness, the Ramblers' star. Harkness and guard Ron Miller were both recruited by Ireland from the Bronx. Harkness had been a middle-distance runner at De Witt Clinton High and hadn't played varsity basketball until his senior year. He had learned the game on the playgrounds and was recommended to Ireland by Walter November, a New York insurance man who organized and coached playground teams in his off-hours. Ireland's recruiting budget was not much more than $3,000, but he could afford one trip a year to New York, where November would set up interviews for him with players at the Manhattan Hotel.

Harkness had received no scholarship offers—"Nobody wanted me," he says—and, since his family subsisted largely on welfare, he couldn't afford to go to school anywhere on his own. But he impressed Ireland, both as a player and as a young man who was willing to work hard and learn. "Going to school was a struggle for me," Harkness says. "It didn't come easy, but I don't think I ever missed a class."

Harkness was lured to Loyola in part by the artful photographs Ireland showed him, which depicted the drab campus as some sort of exclusive resort on a picturesque little lake. Only when he arrived in Chicago did Harkness discover that the lake was, in fact, Lake Michigan. "George misled me," he says with a laugh. "But once I got there, I liked it. There were some lonely times, though. I didn't have many friends because there weren't many blacks on campus. And the racial thing really got to me in basketball. Les and Vic were from the South, so I think they handled it better. With me, it was all magnified. I guess I was a little more emotional than the others. I'd hear those chants, 'Our team is red-hot—yours is all black.' I'd hear that cursing and spitting. I could feel the anger. I saw some of those hate letters, too. I think all of that really hurt my game. And against those southern teams, I think I hurt the team. I don't think I handled the pressure very well. When we played Mississippi State, their captain, Joe Dan Gold, shook my hand before the game, and it became such a big thing. Flashbulbs were popping everywhere. But the trouble brought us together as a team, because we had a common enemy to fight. And I mean all of us, because we never thought of Egan as white. He was one of us."

It was a time when the civil rights movement was cresting, when racial violence in the South and in the northern cities was beginning to erupt, when sit-ins and freedom marches were headline events and when We Shall Overcome was almost as familiar a song as any performed by Elvis Presley. A preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. would tell the nation in 1963, "I have a dream...." and was considered a hero by some, a demagogue by others. It was perhaps fitting that in the climate of the times, two black-dominated teams should meet for the national collegiate basketball championship. As Rouse says, "There was a broader issue than just a game." And yet color was about all these two teams had in common. They didn't really even play the same game. And their coaches were polar opposites.

Ed Jucker likes to describe himself as "a man who has paid his dues." After graduating from Cincinnati, where he played baseball and basketball, in 1940, and serving in World War II, he spent five years coaching basketball at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and seven years more as an assistant to Cincinnati coach George Smith. In 1960, Smith moved up to athletic director and Jucker was named the Bearcats' coach.

It was a most unpropitious time for a promotion. Smith had just won three, consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championships, had taken Cincinnati to the NCAA Tournament all three years and had built an overall record of 79-9 in that time—in large part because he had a player still considered by many to have been the game's best ever: Robertson. Before the Big O arrived, the Bearcats had never won a conference championship and had never had a black player. His phenomenal success—he set 14 NCAA scoring records in his three years of varsity competition—had attracted other black players to the heretofore lily-white campus, but none, of course, was remotely his equal in playing ability. And now he was gone. Worse yet, he had signed to play with the crosstown Royals of the NBA, taking with him not only his 33-plus points a game but also a 6,000 fans as well. Smith knew when it was time to move. Timing did not seem to be Jucker's strong suit.

As if his situation were not perilous enough, Jucker then made a decision that would antagonize what few supporters he had left in the community. Robertson's teams had played racehorse basketball, scoring 90 or more points a game; it was the Cincinnati style, and the fans loved it. Now Jucker would toss a wet blanket on all that. "I knew the fans loved those hundred-point games, but we didn't have an Oscar Robertson anymore, and I felt we couldn't duplicate that kind of scoring," he says. "I thought if we played good defense, avoided mistakes and worked as a unit offensively, we could win. Five players, working together could be one Oscar Robertson. We would play a control game and wait for the good shot. It was, of course, a drastic change."

It certainly was. Instead of motoring pell-mell up and down the court, Cincinnati teams would now advance with due deliberation, cautiously moving the ball around and setting picks until someone—preferably the sharpshooting Bonham—could break free for the easy shot. Jucker had to convince the flashy Tom Thacker that behind-the-back passes were no longer acceptable. He had to persuade Bonham that 15 well-selected shots could be as productive as 25 random ones. The results were not immediately rewarding. Jucker's first Bearcat team lost three of its first eight games, one by 17 points to St. Louis U. The fans, repelled by the snail's pace, took to booing the players and taunting the killjoy Jucker with chants of "Let 'em run!" Booster club luncheons, once automatic sellouts, were now attracting sleepy-eyed audiences of no more than a handful. Jucker seemed well on his way to boring everybody to death.

But then, not a moment too soon, his team began to win. Not by much, but by just enough. After that 5-3 start, Cincinnati, amazingly, didn't lose another game and finished at 27-3. The Bearcats were forcing the speediest fast-break teams to play an unfamiliar game, Jucker's game, and they were beating them at it.

Even with Robertson on his team, Smith had never won an NCAA championship. Jucker won one in his first year as a University Division coach, defeating in the championship game the overwhelming favorite, the No. 1-ranked Ohio State team of Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Mel Nowell and Larry Siegfried, 70-65 in overtime. Not only that, Cincinnati did it again the next year, whipping the Buckeyes even more convincingly 71-59, for a second title. No team had ever won three NCAA championships in a row, but that was Jucker's intention in 1963, and he had few doubters. His once-despised style was now all the rage. He even wrote a book about it, Cincinnati Power Basketball. And Bearcat fans, far from being bored, were now devotees of the scientific approach and considered themselves basketball sophisticates because of it. The run-and-shoot game was for the untutored.

Cincinnati entered the 1963 tournament with a 23-1 record—the single loss having come by one point 65-64—to Wichita State. Jucker was already everybody's choice for Coach of the Year. He had compensated for the loss of Hogue, the 6'9" center of the year before, by shifting 6'8" forward George Wilson to center, moving the 6'2" Thacker from guard to forward and bringing in the 5'10" Shingleton as a playmaking guard. Yates, "the best defensive player in basketball," says Jucker, was the other guard, and Bonham, "the best pure shooter in the game," was the other forward. This may not have been Jucker's most talented team, but it was his most experienced, and the one that best exemplified his principles of unselfish team play. The Bearcats had allowed their regular-season opponents just 51.9 points per game, and had drawn just 13.0 fouls per game, lowest in the nation. Bonham was the leading scorer with 20.7 points a game. In the NCAA tournament the Bearcats rolled past Texas, Colorado and Oregon State to reach their showdown with Loyola.

Jucker was an amiable enough man away from the court, but he became a nervous wreck on the bench. He became so exercised during a game against Houston that he twice popped up and punched the timer's buzzer to get the officials' attention. His own players had to restrain him, by grabbing his coattails, from thundering onto the floor in the middle of games. "People used to send me seat belts," he recalls. "I guess I got on the officials more than I should have, but I always felt such a part of every game, such a part of my players. I never planned to do anything during a game. It just seemed to happen."

"We thought Juck was funny," says Thacker. "At heart he was a good guy." Says Shingleton, "He was very emotional, and very close to his players."

In contrast, Egan remembers his first encounter with Ireland: "It was at the first team meeting in the gym. He looked at us and said, 'The most important thing is for you to get an education, play some ball and get out of here.' He told us he had four friends in the whole world—his wife, his two daughters and his son—and he didn't need any more. I don't want you as my friends,' he said. 'You don't have to like me, and I don't have to like you.' He said nobody would care about us anyway, unless we did the job we were there for."

"George was a different type of fellow," says Lyne, Ireland's assistant and, in 1975, successor. "He never hung out with anyone. He just went his own way. He was always a loner. And if he got ticked at someone, they were gone forever. George would get mad just seeing a picture in the paper of Ray Meyer [the longtime coach at rival DePaul]. Hell, after practice, I'd want to go somewhere and have a cocktail and relax. But George would just get into his car and drive straight home to his wife. He's one of the most meticulous men I've ever known. You can't say he didn't get the job done, but I wonder, I really wonder, if he enjoyed life."

Ireland was an All-America basketball player at Notre Dame in 1934-35. He started in 72 straight games, a school record at that time, and never missed a practice. He was as hard-nosed a player as he was later a coach. "Adolph Rupp called me the dirtiest player in the game," says Ireland, laughing, "and just because I coldcocked one of his players right in front of his bench." Ireland coached for 15 years at the Marmion Military Academy in Aurora, Ill., before arriving at Loyola in 1952. He would coach there for 23 years.

In 1956, Ireland had "80 percent of my stomach taken out" because of a bleeding ulcer; on the bench, however, he seldom exhibited any signs of tension. He had no use for the antics of his demonstrative counterparts, like Jucker's. "They should be taken off the bench and made to stand in a corner," he once said. "When I was teaching school, if I'd thrown a tantrum, I'd have been fired. Coaches are obviously teachers who happen to conduct their tests in public."

Over the years, though, Ireland had more than a few squabbles with the good Jesuit fathers who run Loyola. "I guess I irritated a lot of them," he says, "but money was scarce. I didn't even have an office. My recruiting budget was practically nothing, and we were playing then in a gym that was already 40 years old." He clearly recognized basketball's future, though, and vigorously recruited blacks from the South and the biggest urban centers. Ireland enjoys telling of the aged priest who, after saying his prayers at the campus altar, supposedly looked up to find that he had been kneeling before a black Madonna. "My god," he shouted, "look what Ireland has done now."

As a coach, Ireland was, by his own happy admission, "a butt-kicker." He was a fanatic about conditioning and an innovator who had his players practice rebounding with weights on their ankles and shooting at rims two inches smaller in circumference than regulation to increase accuracy. His Ramblers played a pressing defense and an offense he called "organized confusion." Says Hunter, "He didn't approach the game with what you might call intellectual profundity. His style was, If you miss, go back and get it and put it up again."

According to Ireland, "The object of the game is to put the ball in the basket," and that's exactly what his 1962-63 Ramblers did—better, in fact, than any team in the country. Loyola, which entered the NCAA tournament with a 24-2 record, had averaged 93.9 points per game, highest in the nation. Everyone in Ireland's scheme could, and would, shoot. Harkness led with a regular-season average of 21.4 points per game, but Hunter had a 17-point average, Egan a 14.2, Rouse a 13.5 and Miller a 13.1.

Ireland didn't believe in substituting. "We had no sixth man," says Lyne. "And oh, my goodness, were we in shape," says Harkness. To reach the final game, the Ramblers—the first Loyola team to play in the national tournament—knocked off four conference champions or cochampions.

While Ireland may have been strict with his players, even distant from them, he has always, in his own way, held them in great affection. "That '63 team was an extraordinary group of young men," he says. "All intelligent, all willing, all good at what they did. They were not great players, but they were a great team."

A capacity crowd of 19,153 filled Freedom Hall in Louisville on March 23, 1963, to see the matchup between the explosive Loyola offense and the exasperating Cincinnati defense. In the beginning, it looked like no contest. Ireland's speedy marksmen missed 13 of their first 14 shots, and the Bearcats moved to a commanding 19-9 lead. Bonham was doing most of the scoring behind Shingleton's artful picks.

It was 29-21 at the half, and the Cincinnati fans who had made the short trek to Louisville were already celebrating. Jucker's teams were not known for blowing big leads. Loyola was only sparsely represented in the big hall—an example, Ireland groused, of Jesuit-inspired apathy toward sports—and what few fans there were had little to cheer about. The Bearcats' lead was not so much the product of an impenetrable defense as of a Rambler offense decidedly out of whack. Loyola had made only eight of 34 first-half field goal attempts. Harkness, hounded by Thacker and Yates, hadn't scored a point.

At halftime, however, Ireland did not choose to berate his team; his tone—much to the surprise of his players—was almost sympathetic. The ball was just not dropping, he told them. Don't panic. The baskets would come.

But at the outset of the second half, it was Cincinnati that in one stretch hit five of six shots, including three straight Bonham jumpers. And the Ramblers couldn't buy a basket. Harkness, in fact, was experiencing a personal crisis. "I think that game was like the beginning of the end for me as a player," he says. "Until then, I had all the confidence in the world. I was not a great outside shooter. I didn't have to be because I was so quick. But in that game I learned I could be stopped."

With 13:56 left, Cincinnati led 45-30. But then an extraordinary turn of events began to take place: The team that seldom fouled suddenly found itself in foul trouble. With 10:21 remaining in the game and the score 45-33, Wilson picked up his fourth personal and was replaced briefly by Dale Heidotting. Shortly thereafter, Thacker and Yates got their fourth fouls. Jucker was convinced the only thing to do now was go into a stall, take only sure shots and try to draw fouls. It would be impossible to blow a big lead playing that way, wouldn't it? Ireland never thought so: "My philosophy has always been that if you got a 10-point lead, you should try to make it 20."

"I was extremely surprised they decided to go into a stall," says Hunter. "It takes something out of you if you're not even trying to score and the other team is. A shooter has to get into a rhythm, and they were definitely out of sync. Stalling was a tremendous mistake against a team like ours."

"The fouls changed our whole game," says Thacker. "We could no longer play aggressively. Under those circumstances, you get overly cautious, mechanical. But even with the stall, I thought we could hold the lead."

And the Bearcats might have—if they had been able to hold onto the ball. Instead they started to throw it away, much to their own amazement. If Cincinnati committed so many as five turnovers in a game, Jucker considered it to be a performance of surpassing sloppiness. Against Loyola's relentlessly pressuring defense, the Bearcats had 16. "That's not Cincinnati basketball," Jucker cries out even today.

With 4½ minutes left, Harkness scored his first field goal of the night and then, six seconds later, his second, off a steal. The score was now 48-45. Against the stall Loyola had run off a 15-3 surge. The big crowd, pro-Cincinnati at the start, was now being won over by the underdogs. "You could just feel the shift," says Denis Quinlan, a newspaperman who worked as sports publicist for his alma mater, Loyola. "The photographers were starting to move from their end of the court to ours. It was as if somebody had blown a whistle."

The Bearcats stubbornly stuck to the stall. With 12 seconds left, the Ramblers trailed 53-52, but Cincinnati had the ball. In desperation, Harkness deliberately fouled Shingleton, who then stood at the free throw line in a one-and-one situation as calmly, he says, as if he were playing a game of H-O-R-S-E. The team benches for this game were placed not on the sides of the court but behind the baskets at each end. Shingleton would be shooting into the encouraging faces of his own teammates. Loyola called timeout to give him time to fret, but Shingleton would not be rattled. "I've been more nervous over three-foot putts for a dollar," he says.

His first shot swished through. Yates gave him a broad smile and held up a clenched fist. Shingleton smiled back and strolled briefly away from the line. The game was in his hands. If he made his second free throw, there was no way the Bearcats could lose. Rouse, apparently sensing the end, turned to Bonham to congratulate him on a great game. Shingleton stepped back to the line.

"I have a picture of that scene hanging in my basement," says Shingleton. "It was taken through the glass of the backboard and shows the time on the clock, 12 seconds, and the score, 54-52, and the ball in the air. You know, if I'd made that shot, I could probably have been the youngest senator in the history of the state of Ohio. But I flat missed it. And I've lived with it all these years."

Hunter got the rebound and fired an outlet pass to Miller hurrying down the left side of the court. In his eagerness to get off a pass to Harkness at the head of the fast break. Miller lost control of the ball for a split second and—no question about it—traveled. "Every time I see that game film, I break into a cold sweat right there," says Ireland. "He walked from here to that wall," says Jucker. But neither official, Alex George or William Hussenius, called the violation, and Miller flipped the ball to Harkness, who sank a 12-foot jump shot to tie the game with six seconds left. It was the 12th point of his personal comeback. There were still six seconds in regulation play, but Jucker's appeals for a timeout could not be heard above the crowd's roar, and the buzzer sounded.

Harkness made the first basket in overtime on a feed from Hunter. Wilson scored on a layup for Cincinnati to tie the score at 56. Miller dropped a 25-footer for Loyola. Thacker snatched a rebound and launched a full-court pass to Shingleton who sank his first and only field goal of the night: 58-58. The Ramblers called timeout with 1:49 left.

It was now Loyola's turn to stall. "Cincinnati is getting some of its own medicine now," Loyola radio broadcaster Red Rush bellowed into the mike. But with 1:21 left, Shingleton tied up Egan, and a jump ball was called. "I thought I had the steal, but then we were on the floor together," Shingleton says. Both were 5'10, but Egan was a good 20 pounds heavier; Shingleton was confident he could control the jump ball.

"He was a stocky guy, but he surprised me the whole game with his quickness," Shingleton says. Egan timed his jump perfectly and got the tap to Miller in the backcourt. The highest-scoring team in college basketball was now waiting for that one last shot. And with time almost gone, Harkness passed to Hunter in the middle....

Ireland, 74, and Jucker, 71, are both retired. Jucker stayed only two more years at his alma mater. "Five years seemed like 25," he says. His five-year record of 113-28, an .801 percentage, is by far the best in the school's history. He coached the professional Royals for a couple of years, returned to RPI briefly and coached at Rollins College in Florida before retiring in Cincinnati. He still sees his old players, and even plays a little golf with Shingleton, who's president of a trucking company in Cincinnati, and Yates, now the Bearcats coach. Thacker has his own printing company in Cincinnati, and for a few years coached the Lady Bearcats basketball team. Thacker, Wilson, who is physical director of the Melrose YMCA in Cincinnati, and Bonham, a recreation superintendent in his native Muncie, Ind., all played pro basketball with middling success. Thacker, however, did play on both an ABA champion (Indiana Pacers, 1970) and an NBA champion (Celtics, 1968) as well as on the 1961 and '62 NCAA champion Bearcats, making him the answer to a terrific trivia question.

Harkness was drafted by the Knicks in 1963 and, to his embarrassment, was cut. "Here I was an All-American on a national champion, and I got cut. That made me sick and depressed," he says. But he made a comeback a few years later with the ABA Pacers and put his name in the record books by winning a game against the Dallas Chaparrals in 1967 with an 88-foot shot at the buzzer. He's a broadcaster for WIDC in Indianapolis and for Loyola basketball, and for the past 18 years has been the director of community affairs for the United Way in Indianapolis. Hunter, who owns a restaurant, Hunter's Smokehouse Barbecue, in Overland Park, Kans., played seven years in the ABA and the NBA and was the most successful of the '63 title-game players as a pro, averaging 12.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Egan is a successful criminal lawyer in Chicago.

All 10 starters in that historic game got diplomas from their universities, and four—Shingleton, Egan, Thacker and Rouse—earned graduate degrees. Rouse has three masters degrees and a doctorate in public administration from USC. He heads his own educational consulting firm in Washington, D.C., teaches courses at the University of Maryland, travels extensively in Europe and the U.S. on educational and employment business and, in his spare time, moderates philosophical seminars for the Aspen Institute.

Hunter's shot with four seconds left hit the rim of the basket and caromed off the glass to the right side, where Rouse waited. A fabulous leaper, he was even with the rim, high above Thacker's desperate groping, as the ball bounded to him. "I didn't tip the ball," Rouse says. "I caught it and very carefully took aim. I had missed two or three shots in that game by rushing the ball. But this time I felt suspended in air—you could almost say it was an out-of-body experience—and I was totally focused. I shot that ball, and it went in. It was like a blessing."



Miller gave Yates, Cincinnati's defensive ace, a taste of his own game.



The Bearcats rewarded their fans with championships in '61 and '62 and, entering the Loyola game with a 26-1 record, had designs on an unprecedented third title.



Bonham, with a jumper over Rouse (40) and Hunter, showed a hot hand for Cincinnati in the first half, while the Ramblers' shooting went cold.



Always intense but never prone to emotional displays on the bench, Ireland stayed calm when Loyola fell behind.



Egan and Shingleton (11), both 5'10", battled throughout the game and, fittingly, squared off on a critical jump ball late in overtime.



Harkness (15), shadowed by Bonham, suffered through a scoreless first half; but in the end, with the game on the line, the ball was in his hands.



With the score tied and the clock running out in overtime, Rouse went up to grab the rebound over the outstretched hand of Thacker.



Twenty-five years—and many personal twists and turns—after winning the title, the Ramblers reunited in the Loyola gym where they once played: (clockwise, from upper left) Egan, Harkness, Ireland, Miller, Lyne, Hunter, Rouse.