Saturday, January 26, 2013

Most Played Rivalries

Last weekend Oregon beat Washington 81-76 with the Ducks playing at the Matthew Knight Center.  Last Wednesday Oregon beat Washington State 74-66.  Also on Wednesday, Oregon State beat Washington State 68-61.   On Saturday Oregon State lost to Washington State 71-68.  All of these games added to some of the most played rivalries in the history of college basketball.  

Sometime over the next month, ESPN will play up "rivalry week."  Rivalry week will feature games played from whatever it seems ESPN has deemed "rivalries."  Yet, the most played rivalries are almost exclusively in an area and region that ESPN rarely covers.  

Duke and North Carolina will receive an extensive amount of coverage when they meet.   However, North Carolina and Duke have played only  234 times entering this season and they did not first meet until January 24, 1920, while the ACC was not actually formed until 1956, limiting the number of conference match ups that they had.  North Carolina leads the all time series 132 to 102.  However, this does not even place the rivalry in the top 10 most played. 

Easily the most played college basketball rivalry is the Oregon/Oregon State basketball version of "the Civil War".    In fact, the Pacific Northwest dominates the list of the most played rivalries with seven of the top ten featuring schools from the region.   The Oregon/Oregon State rivalry started when the teams first met on January 24, 1902 when Oregon State beat Oregon 32-2.  Since then they have played at least one time every year, with Oregon State holding a 184-153 advantage.   The series primarily featured two conference match ups annually, however, in 1913-14 they played six times and in 1953-54 and 1959-60 the schools met five times.  They played four times in a season multiple times, most recently in 1975-76, during that season, Oregon State won a game played on December 30, 1976 which was ultimately forfeited back to Oregon. 

The Far West Classic, played from 1959 to 1990, featured eight teams and also increased the number of match ups the schools had with the Beavers and Ducks playing an additional time often at a neutral arena in Portland, Oregon.  In 1991 the Far West Classic was not played, however, it returned in 1992 and in '92, '93, '95, and '96 the Beavers and Ducks played an additional third time in this tournament.  (Including the two Pac 8, Pac 10 or now Pac 12 Conference match ups.)   However, 1996 was the last year for this event.  Oregon and Oregon State have played in the following locations:  Portland, Oregon (10 times), Salem, Oregon for the Pacific Coast Northern Division Playoff Championship game and of course Corvalis and Eugene multiple times.  

It is interesting to note that in the state of Indiana, often cited home of college basketball,  IU has only played Purdue University 198 times with Purdue holding a 112-86 advantage, in spite of the fact that these schools first met in 1901. 

Previously, we wrote a little about the BYU/Utah rivalry.  (Here is a link to that article including Conroy's account of his rivalries with VMI (   Interesting to note, however, that the Citadel's most played rival is Furman whom they have met 196 times entering this season.

The most played rivalries are (again number of games entering the 2012-13 season):

1. Oregon State vs. Oregon,  184-153 (337 times) Oregon State advantage
2. Oregon vs. Washington,   187-105  (292 times) Washington advantage
3. Oregon State vs. Washington, 154-137 (291 times)  Washington advantage 
4. Oregon State. vs. Washington State,   163-123 (286 times) Oregon State advantage
5.  Montana vs. Montana State,   147-136  (283 times) Montana State advantage, play again on March 2. 
5. Oregon vs. Washington State, 160-123 (283 times) Oregon advantage
7. Washington vs. Washington State, 174-100 (274 times) Washington advantage
7. Kansas vs. Kansas State,  183-91 (274 times) Kansas advantage
9.  Kansas vs. Missouri   172-95 (267 times) Kansas advantage not playing this year and no longer a conference game. 
10.  Cal vs. Stanford  143-114 (257 times) Cal leads
11.  Utah vs. BYU 127-125  (252 times)   BYU leads, also no longer a conference match up.

There are certainly other notable rivalries not on this list, and some observers might be surprised as to the number of times they have played (results following are only through 2009 season)  Mississippi and Mississippi State (Miss. State leads 134-105) and  New Mexico with a 108-94 series lead over NMSU. 

Some of the midmajors have storied traditions, Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State is interesting because Sam Houston State shows SFA with a 91-90 series lead while SFA shows the lead as 98-88.  Others of note include Santa Clara and Saint Mary's (Santa Clara with a 131-74 advantage),  Murray State and Austin Peay (Murray with a 69-40 series advantage), Penn with a 122-98 advantage over Princeton and Niagara and Canisius (Niagara with a 94-72 series edge).

Boston College and Holy Cross is also of special note as Holy Cross actually leads the series.  After discontinuing it's program in 1909, BC actually helped revive the Holy Cross program.   However,  thanks partially  to legendary Bob Cousy and its domination during the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's Holy Cross leads the rivalry 58-54 (including the 2012 BC win).  However, the rivalry was discontinued in 2006, but renewed in 2010 with Boston College winning the first match up of the renewed Boston rivalry and the most recent one in 2012. 

Enjoy rivalry week when it comes, but keep in mind that these are often just games and schools that ESPN has marketed as rivalries.  The true rivalries started long before this. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Oldest College Basketball Arenas

The Gonzaga/Butler game on Saturday night brought extensive attention to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse as the ESPN crew played up the age, history and tradition of the facility.  Butler proceeded to win a nail biter.  However, ESPN left us in the dark as to other arenas, saying only that Hinkle was the 6th oldest arena in the country.   Leaving the true basketball purist to wonder what the five older ones were?  

The great thing about college basketball is that the older arenas have taken on an historic place rivaled only by major league baseball stadiums -- Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.  Universities and the communities around them have taken to refurbishing or remodeling the classic historic ones as opposed to opening new ones. 

Oregon shutdown its Mac Court only two years ago, facing extreme opposition and in fact tried to replicate its historic Mac Court when it replaced the 84 year old facility in 2011 with Matthew Knight Arena.  What every true Duck and college basketball purist knows is that you can't reproduce the history and tradition that these facilities have. sat down and did the homework.  Compiling the following list showing the gym/arena name, the year that it opened and the capacity as well as a significant or historic note where appropriate. 

1.  Rose Hill Gym, Fordham, 1925, Fordham University capacity of 3,470 -- Hosted the final high school game of Lew Alcinder's (Kareem Abdul Jabaar)  career. 

2.  The Palestra, January 1, 1927, University of Pennsylvania capacity of 8,722. -- The home of the Big 5 and "The Cathedral of College Basketball."  We have talked about the Palestra before.  (Link:

3.  Hec Edmundson Pavillion, 1927, University of Washington, capacity of 10,000.  Washington has the most wins of any school in its existing arena going into this season.  Now 85 years old, the Husky basketball team started playing there, in 1927.  "Hec Ed" hosted the 1949 (Kentucky wins title) and 1952 (Kansas coached by Phog Allen victorious) Final Fours.  The largest attendance at "Hec Ed", however, was the 1957 semifinals of the Washington State High School basketball tournament when 12,961 fans sold out "Hec Ed".  What is great about this is that at no point was the capacity of "Hec Ed" ever close to 12,961!    "Hec Ed's"most memorable game, however, may have been Seattle University's 1954 victory over the Harlem Globetrotters   (See link from this blog:

4.  Williams Arena, 1928, University of Minnesota, capacity of 14,625.  From 1950 to 1971, Williams Arena  had the largest seating capacity of any arena in the country. BYU's Marriott Center opened in 1971 and toped Williams.   In  1950, Williams was split to house both a hockey arena and a basketball arena in separate sections of the facility.   The unusual feature of Williams is the raised court, which puts the first row and fans sitting in it below court level.  Hinkle Fieldhouse and Memorial Gymnasium at Vanderbilt are the only two other college arenas with this feature.  Williams hosted the 1951 Final Four (Bill Spivey and Adolph Rupp lead Kentucky past Kansas State) and the 1958 and 1966 Frozen Four. 

5.  Hinkle Fieldhouse, 1928, Butler University, Capacity of 10,000.  The largest basketball arena in the country when it was constructed, Hinkle hosted the Indiana High School State Championships from 1928 (its construction date) to 1971.  Butler University still plays on the original floor.   In 1968 Hinkle hosted the East/West High School All Star game where Pete Maravich outplayed Indiana legend Rick Mount and of course Hinkle was where Milan's legendary Indiana State High School Basketball Championship took place -- which became the version of the movie "Hoosiers". 

6.  Payne Whitney Gym, John J. Lee Amphitheatre, Yale University 1932, capacity of 2,532.  Houses a swimming pool on in one wing and the basketball arena on the other.   Also features facilities for crew, gymnastics, fencing and four indoor basketball courts.  .

7.  Fogelman Arena, 1933, Tulane University, Capacity 3,600.  Opened December 15, 1933 when Tulane beat Southwestern Louisiana 38-34.  On February 11, 1966, Pete Maravich set a still standing building record by scoring 66 points.  Tulane, however, still won  the game 110-96.  Tulane did move some of its games to the Superdome, but after renovations returned a full slate of home games to Fogelman Arena. 

8.  Gallagher Iba Arena, 1938,  Oklahoma State University.  Capacity is 13,611  -- First game featured Phog Allen's Kansas Jayhawks against Hank Iba's Cowboys, Iba's squad won 21-15.  Called the Madison Square Garden of the Plains when it originally opened, Oklahoma State continues to play on the original maple floor from 1938. 

9.  McCalister Fieldhouse (originally The Citadal Armory), opened in 1939, The Citadel, capacity 6000, renovated in 1989, farthest seat is only 24 rows from court level.  The arena where Conroy played.  The same arena where on February 13, 1967, Conroy and The Citadel played "in one of the most exciting games I'd ever seen.  I watched the boys on both teams honor the character and nature of their schools by playing a game that glitters in remembrance."   Conroy's words on the epic contest.  In this game, Pat Conroy, as The Citadel's team captain led the Cadets past VMI in a four overtimes.

I pump-faked, and put the basketball high off the backboard with an underhand scoop.  I was on the ground when I saw the ball slip through the net.  The Armory approached meltdown.  The score was 72-70....I looked out to the Corps and I drank in their applause through the pores of my skin as I tried to memorize how I felt as the happiest, most fabulous moment of my life.  I sank the free throw.  In what seemed like seconds later, the buzzer sounded to end what is still the longest basketball game in Southern Conference history.  We won, 73-70.

Conroy on his game winner at The Armory. 

10.  Cameron Indoor Fieldhouse, Duke University, 1940, capacity 9,314, dedicated January 6, 1940, at the time Cameron was the largest basketball facility south of The Palestra.  In fact the same architectural firm that designed The Palestra designed Cameron.

It's the intimacy of the arena, the unique seating arrangement that puts the wildest fans right down on the floor with the players. It's the legends that were made there, the feeling of history being made with every game. And it's something more than either of these, something indescribable that comes from the building itself. No one who has experienced it will ever forget it.   From the Duke University website on Cameron Indoor Arena. 

There is obviously more on Cameron, see:   "Home Court - Fifty Years of Cameron Indoor Stadium" by Hazel Landwehr. 

Those are the top 10, however, like any other list, there is a subjectivity to it as the above arenas feature teams that have played in the facilities consecutively from their inception. 

The four arena's below would all rank high on the list however, their basketball programs did not start playing in these facilities until much later.   So the building might actually be older than those facilities shown above, but the school/university has not played in the building as long as those listed above.   Accordingly, they don't appear on the list above, however some have an extensive tradition and history that rivals anything on the list.

Lundholm Gymnasium,  1930, New Hampshire, capacity of 3,000.  Originally, UNH played in the Field House, Lundholm Gym was added as a component of the Field House and was opened in 1960. So technically Lundholm has not been the homecourt of New Hampshire since 1930, only since 1960. 

Matthews Arena, opened in 1910, Northeastern University.   Capacity 6,000.  Formerly, Boston Arena, technically, it could be argued that this is actually the "oldest" active arena and I'm certain that the ESPN research crew was counting Matthews when it stated the Hinkle was the 6th oldest active arena.  However, Northeastern didn't actually start playing here in the facility until 1981 and even played at Solomon Court at the Cabot Center from 1997 through 2005.  Matthews was the original home court of both the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.  Matthews also was the home arena for The Beanpot Tournament and hockey teams of Boston University, Boston College, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts and is still the oldest indoor hockey arena in the world.

Rod Laviates Basketball Pavillion at Briggs Athletic Center, 1926, Harvard University.  Did not become a basketball facility in November 26th 1982 when the men's and women's programs began playing games here.  Capacity is 2,195.

Municipal Arena, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 1936, capacity is 9,827; UMKC has fielded a basketball team since 1969 so technically not in use as a college arena since 1936, however, the history of Municipal Arena rivals that of any arena in the country.  It was opened in 1936 and has a storied basketball history having hosted the NAIA Tournament from 1937 to 1975 as well as the three of first four Final Fours (1940 Indiana over Kansas), (1941 Wisconsin over Washington State) and (1942 Stanford over Dartmouth).  Kansas City itself is home to the college basketball hall of fame. 

Other arenas.  There is a large gap between these 14 and the next "wave".  Not until 1950 do we see arenas built that are still in use.   Likely due to World War II, when most programs did not field teams or only fielded teams on a limited basis.   The next series would include, although not entirely complete:  Elon College Alumni Gym, 1950, featuring all chair back seating; Niagara University Gallagher Center, 1949; Gill Coliseum, Oregon State, 1949, and St. Joe's Memorial Fieldhouse (present day Michael J. Hagan Arena), opened in 1949.  St. Joe's played in the Palestra prior to this period.   

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The title and home page of this blog is "My Losing Season" stolen from Pat Conroy's account of  the Citadel's 1966-67 season when he served as the team's point guard.   And while we consistently write about the College of Southern Idaho and its national championship (See Link:, the longest winning streak's to start a season at the division I college level (See Link: , the "Cinderellas" in the NCAA Tournament like Davidson and Butler (See Link:,  and the high schools with the most state championships we cannot ignore the teams that lose.   Every game has both a winner and loser.   It's the loser that nobody writes about and that's Conroy's and one of the main points of this blog. 

For in every game that their is a team that we call a winner there is a losing team.  What benefit can they take from these contests? 

Winning makes you think you'll always get the girl, land the job, deposit the million dollar check, win the promotion, and you grow accustomed to a life of answered prayers. . . Loss is fiercer, more uncompromising teacher, coldhearted but clear-eyed in it understanding that life is more dilemma than game and more trial than free pass.  My acquaintance with loss has sustained me during the stormy passages of my life when the pink slips came through the door, when the checks bounced at the bank, when I told my small children I was leaving their mother, when the despair caught up with me, when the dreams of suicide began feeling like love songs of release.  It sustained me when my mother lay dying of leukemia . . .(Pat Conroy)

Yesterday, I drove six hours round trip in a car with a pair of other officals and officiated two games involving Pinedale High School in Pinedale, Wyoming -- a basketball wasteland.   The Wranglers boys team is 0-9 this year.  A year ago they won one game, going 1-24.   Over the past three years the Wranglers have a combined record of 1-57 with a sole victory against Jackson Hole in January of last year.  There have been three coaches during those three seasons (all coaches that I would argue understand the game).   This losing would not be so troublesome except for the fact that Pinedale High School was the zenith of my playing ability, it's where I formed relationships with many of the people I still call friends and it's where I learned to love the game of basketball.  I am an alum of the school, the same way Pat Conroy is an alum of The Citadel, so I understand the basketball program and the town better than most anyone.   When I officiate their contests against Star Valley, there is nothing that I can do (nor would I try) to impact the result of their game against Wyoming's top 3A rated team (Star Valley) on January 5th.

We have addressed the phenomenal difficulties of winning basketball games in ski towns previously (see link on Park City High School:   Pinedale, Wyoming is perhaps even more challenged.  

First, three years ago a new ownership group took over the ski area that sits above town, and although not Park City, they brought a new found enthusiasm to the sport in a town that has only 2500 residents.   ( 

Besides the state of the art gym that the Wranglers play in, the natural gas boom that hit the area ten years ago has provided dollars to the school district and county that have been used to produce other activites that take away a youths interest in basketball.  There is an indoor hockey arena (Pinedale Glaciers link:   which provides free ice time to local high school and junior high players (I doubt you will find this anywhere else in the continental United States), an aquatic center with an Olympic size swimming pool (See link for aquatic center information:, a state of the art "wrestling room", and a new theatre for drama performances   (Pinedale Fine Arts:  

Finally, Pinedale, Wyoming features some of the best summer activities in the country that take more time away from any potential interest in basketball.  The neighboring Wind River Mountains provide fishing, hunting and climbing opportunities that have produced some of the top outdoorsman in the country.   The National Outdoorleadership School bases itself out of Lander, but the Wind Rivers are its real home.  (See link to sign up:  The world's top rock climber honed his skills while living in Pinedale ( 

This is only complicated the fact that Pinedale High School features one of the lowest enrollments of any school classified as 3A by the Wyoming High School Activities Association (with approximately 250 students).  By comparison, Saturday's opponent -- Star Valley features one of the largest enrollments at the 3A level, with over 650 high school students.

On this Saturday both the jayvee and varsity boys' games as well as the varsity girl's game implement Wyoming's new 40 point rule where if a team gets ahead by 40 points a running clock is utilized.    Arguably, this only adds insult to the injury as midway through the third quarter, Star Valley's public address announcer blares out that "Wyoming has instituted a new rule with a running clock when a team gets ahead by 40 points."   As if the Pinedale players and fans needed a public declaration of their struggles. 

As I write this, at this same time, Pat Conroy's alma mater, The Citadel, finds itself ranked 345th out of the 346 teams that play division I basketball ( with its lone Division I victory coming against equally militarily challenged VMI in its opening game.    We have previously addressed the challenges that come with coaching college basketball at a military academy (see link:   Conroy writes, "Winning basketball games in a military college is as perilous a way to earn a living as exists in American coaching." 

I doubt Conroy was aware of Pinedale High School's challenges. 

I don't have answers.   I can only fall back on what Conroy writes above, that somehow these losses and the players that endure them will take something from them for later in life, something that will provide more resolve, give them more tenacity, learn lessons that might help them deal with disappointments that will undoubtedly come to them, as they come to all humans, better than those kids that are experiencing the victories against them.