Yesterday was our Deacs’ chance at the ACC Tournament. It was a tough game – we were down by about 10 at the end of the first half, then we outplayed VA Tech in the second half to make it a close game, but ultimately lost at the buzzer. A hard ending to the season for sure.
Because of the Tournament yesterday, our local paper ran two articles about former Deacon great Randolph Childress (’95) and his son Brandon, who has committed to the Deacs. Having a look at former greatness (and potential for future greatness) took some of the sting out of the loss.
[Before we go much further, an editorial disclaimer: I am an unabashed Randolph Childress fangirl. Filter accordingly.]
Yesterday’s Winston-Salem Journal had a wonderful piece on Randolph Childress (’95), our legendary, extraordinary basketball player who through sheer force of will pulled us to an improbable win in the 1995 ACC Tournament. His play over those 3 days is considered by many as the greatest and grittiest individual performance in the history of the tournament; he holds the individual tournament scoring record to this day. Randolph was then, and remains now, my all-time favorite Deacon – with all due respect given to the amazing players who have come before him and since.
The story should be required reading for all Deacon fans. I watched the 1995 ACC Tournament on TV and it was a combination of the ridiculous (when we were losing and should not have been) and the sublime (when we were on fire). The W-S Journal captures Randolph’s major highlights nicely:
“Many of the details have been blurred by time, but three moments will live forever in ACC lore.
Two were from the championship game — the audacity of Childress motioning for a fallen Jeff McInnis to get up while he was draining yet another 3-pointer; and, of course, the climatic shot [Editorial note: seen here in an AP file photo; fans simply call this “The Shot”].
But the third was not a shot, a pass or even a defensive gem. It was the timeout Odom called in the first half of the quarterfinal against Duke. Only 8:33 remained on the clock, but Odom didn’t feel he could wait for the next media timeout.
The Deacons trailed by 18.
“I remember the play,” Childress said. “I remember coming down the right side of the floor and I lost the ball. It went out of bounds and I remember it hopped over someone — it might have been a photographer or somebody — and went into the crowd. I think that’s the section my parents were sitting it.
“I was shaking my head. And I was more upset, like, ‘This can’t happen.’ I remember walking to the timeout and the coaching staff would always kind of huddle up and speak. And I just remember walking over to Scooter (Banks), and I just remember going off on those guys. I started off with Scooter because I told him: ‘You’re a senior; this is your last go-around, like mine. We’re not going to let this happen.’”
My recollection was that during the huddle, the TV cut to Randolph and he said to his teammates (with the wonderful combination of bravado and intensity he always had):
“Just give me the ball – every time!”
They listened, Randolph and the team were on fire, and we won that game and the next ones to take the Tournament title for the first time in 30+ years. There was a Quad rolling and jubilation like nothing Deacdom had ever seen. To this day, there are Deac fans who, if they are having a bad day and need a pick me up, go back and watch the ’95 ACC Tourney. It’s that good.
The second wave of Randolph-related jubilation came when he retired from playing basketball in Italy. He returned to campus a few years ago to be part of the Athletics staff, then moved to the men’s basketball coaching staff. When Coach Manning came to WFU, Randolph retained his position on the bench (and a collective sigh of relief was heard from Deac fans everywhere).
Now there is another Childressian reason to rejoice – his son Brandon will play for the Deacs. The Winston-Salem Journal also ran a great story about Brandon, a companion piece to the ACC Tournament piece on his father. It will be a wonderful thing to see him grow and develop and make his own mark on the WFU program.
I’m calling it here and now: we will see ACC Tournament greatness again with this team, this coaching staff, and the new slate of players.