Aug. 28, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- It was quite an alumni reunion weekend for the Oklahoma men's basketball program in Norman. More than 100 former players, coaches and staff members returned to the OU campus for a Friday/Saturday get-together hosted by new head coach Lon Kruger and his staff. By all accounts, the inaugural Sooner Basketball Family Weekend was an incredible success.
More than 40 teams of golfers competed in Friday's Tip In Club Golf Classic, with rounds in both the morning and afternoon at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club. That evening, approximately 600 guests attended a dinner on the Lloyd Noble Center main floor that was emceed by Bob Barry Sr. and Toby Rowland. All former players and coaches were introduced to the crowd, and a special 10-year anniversary ceremony honored the 2001-02 team that finished 31-5 and advanced to the Final Four in Atlanta, Ga.
After a Saturday morning brunch at Lloyd Noble Center, the stage was set for the main event -- the Legends Alumni Game. A lively crowd of approximately 4,000 fans showed up early and stayed late for a fun-filled afternoon. More than 30 former players competed in the 40-minute contest that required sudden-death overtime to decide an outcome.
The Crimson team, directed by former head coach Dave Bliss, took command early behind three quick 3-pointers from Hollis Price. Three more treys from Kelley Newton off the bench pushed the Crimson lead to 36-20 near the midway point of the opening half. Brent Price's pass off the backboard in the waning moments of the first half resulted in a Longar Longar slam dunk that gave the Crimson team a 50-39 advantage at intermission.
Kelvin Sampson's Cream squad chipped away in the second half behind an improved defensive effort and the offensive play of Chris Black, who finished with a team-high 16 points. Nate Erdmann's 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds left gave the Cream team a 74-71 lead and an apparent victory, but David Godbold responded with a trey of his own with 1.7 seconds left to force the extra session.
The overtime period, deemed sudden-death by Kruger, was intense. The Crimson team seemed poised to pull out the win when Brent Price, a career 80-percent free throw shooter, was sent to the line for two shots on his team's first possession. Needing to make both charity tosses to cement the victory, Price made the first but missed the second after enduring back-to-back timeouts by Sampson.
On the ensuing Cream team's possession, Bryatt Vann backed down Jozsef Szendrei on the right block and beat an approaching double-team with a pass to Erdmann across the lane. Erdmann quickly laid the ball up and in to give his squad a 76-75 come-from-behind victory.
Erdmann finished with 13 points while Vann added 10 points and a team-high five rebounds. Kermit Holmes added nine points for the Cream team, Michael Neal chipped in with seven and Quannas White with six.
Hollis Price scored a game-high 17 points for the Crimson team and was followed by Godbold and Longar with 11 each. Newton added nine and Brent Price eight. Longar also grabbed a game-high seven boards.
Also suiting up for the game was 84-year-old Keith Miller, who played under Naismith Hall-of-Fame head coach Bruce Drake for three seasons (1948-50).
Following the postgame trophy presentation, all former players joined members of the current OU team in the stands with hundreds of fans for a photo shoot for the 2011-12 schedule poster. An autograph session on the floor capped the weekend activities.
"I think a lot of guys have been waiting for this to happen," said former OU first-team All-Big Eight performer Garfield Heard of the reunion idea. "No one has reached out like this before, except for Lon, and I think it’s going to really grow and be bigger and bigger every year."
Sampson predicted early success at OU for Kruger, and former national player of the year Blake Griffin concurred.
"Lon's an old pro," said Sampson. "This isn't his first rodeo. He's taken over a lot of teams in their first year. I feel very confident that he's going to get this thing going very quickly."
Added Griffin, "He's experienced, he knows what to do. He's been around and if anybody can do it he can do it. So we're all behind him and we're all rooting for him."
Additional Legends Alumni Game Notes
• Although they didn't play in Saturday's alumni game, Blake and Taylor Griffin and Stacey King participated momentarily as officials. Each was responsible for throwing a jump ball -- King to start the game, Blake Griffin to begin the second half and Taylor Griffin to start the overtime period.
• The lone severe injury of Saturday's game occurred less than two minutes into the contest when Anthony Bowie tore his quadriceps tendon. Bowie had successful surgery later in the afternoon and returned to his home in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday.