TERRE HAUTE —
My email box is a little less busy now, and there’ll be a familiar face missing on basketball trips to Marshall in the future.
Carrol “Nellie” Bennett — truly a one-of-a-kind character — will be buried today.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet hundreds of “favorite” people in my job, but it’s no stretch to say that Coach was near the top of the list. He always had a twinkle in his eye, looking like he had a joke ready or a secret he was about to reveal, but opposing coaches learned he was a lot more than just good-natured.
I covered the Lions a couple of times during my first year at the Tribune-Star in 1971 and 1972 — the team that included his son Steve — but my favorite of his teams came about a year later. Fans in Marshall of a certain age no doubt remember that one with fondness themselves.
As much as I respect all the coaches I know today at every level — up to and certainly including the NBA — I still pine for the times when there wasn’t a stigma attached to simply wanting to outscore your opponent. With apologies to Coach, I’ll put it in Indiana terms — I’m more Branch McCracken than Bob Knight (big Jimmy Rayl fan back in the day).
Well, this early-1970s Marshall team was everything I could have hoped for — not that they were big enough to slow the game down against anybody anyway.
Most of you know Howie Johnson, and at 6-foot-2 and 150 pounds with rocks in his pockets, he was one of the Marshall big men. The other was 6-2 Tom York, while the remainder of the starting five — and I don’t remember the Lions going to the bench often — consisted of 5-10 Mike Volk, 5-10 Karl Prevo and 5-8 point guard Joe Ferris (if I spelled somebody’s name wrong, remember it’s been awhile).
York was good for 20 points a game with jumpers from the key, and Howie may have averaged 35 a game or so — from everywhere. They were fun with a capital F, and I saw them often enough (while also getting to eat banquet fried chicken at Tom’s Restaurant downtown and hitting the occasional pep session) that I got to know the key players, manager Brian Bloodworth and all of the cheerleaders.
They got through one round of tournament play and were playing Lawrenceville, coached by Ron Felling and including one of the Shidler brothers (two more very scary names for eastern Illinois fans of a certain age) for the sectional championship.
When the dust cleared after that one, the Lions had won (I seem to remember a 95-85 score, but it may have been higher than that) and Volk was the hero with 27 points, which was probably at least triple his average. I’ll never forget the first postgame quote.
“It’s funny how things work out,” Coach said with that sly grin of his. He knew how Felling was going to guard York and Howie, and he also knew that for the Indians to do that, they’d be leaving the short corner wide open. Volk practiced 10-foot baseline jumpers the week before the game, and may not have missed a one in the biggest game of his life.
As it turned out, that wasn’t the first team I got to cover at a state championship game, although that night I certainly thought they would be. But it was a fun ride, and one I’ve relived more than once with Coach in the 40 or so years since then. I would tell my old friend to rest in peace, but he’s probably stirring up something right now instead.
TERRE HAUTE —
My email box is a little less busy now, and there’ll be a familiar face missing on basketball trips to Marshall in the future.
- Sports Columns
TRACKSIDE: Clauson's run to Indiana Sprint Week title witnessed by many Hoosiers
The checkered flag has fallen on yet another highly successful Indiana SprintWeek series for the USAC sprint cars.
Bryan Clauson emerged as the series champ edging out Robert Ballou for the coveted title, his second ISW crown in as many years.
Tom Reck: Brickyard 400 highlights big sports week
It’s another busy week in sports. Two of the events on the schedule are the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the windup of the Show-Me’s/THGA men’s city golf tournament.
Todd Golden: Bigelow part of Action Track’s lifeblood
Many things have changed since the Terre Haute Action Track opened in 1952, but the one constant is dirt.
Joe Buckles: New alliance features powerful figures trying to lower costs
Possibly no off track developments involving NASCAR racing over the past 20 to 30 years has generated as much interest and speculation as last week’s announcement regarding the formation of the new Race Team Alliance organization.
Tom Reck: At break, A’s own baseball’s top record
The all-stars will be out tonight in Major League Baseball, meaning there’s a little break in the regular schedules. At this point, the team with the best record in either league … is Oakland which is 59-36 for a .621 percentage.
From Terre Haute to the majors: Eitel, Phegley recognized as Triple-A All-Stars
Phegley is a third-time All-Star in the International League, while Marshall, Ill., native Derek Eitel was named to his first Triple-A All-Star game. The Rose-Hulman graduate and right-handed relief pitcher for the Reno Aces has put up impressive numbers in the Pacific Coast League. Eitel has a 2.70 earned-run average with 60 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks’ top minor-league team.
Andy Amey: Just a small trip to talk about this time
To paraphrase Carl Spackler, the heavy stuff’s not going to come for quite awhile. So while it’s true that I’m back from a week’s vacation, it’s not time — yet — for the big vacation column. Trips to Noblesville, Brunswick and Reelsville, while providing some nice family time, don’t really have the cachet to fill newspaper space.
From the Press Box: Simple sports pleasures are best
Andy Amey is the undisputed king of vacation columns in the Tribune-Star’s annals. I just returned from vacation, and while there were certainly tales to tell, I’m left with fond memories of simple sports pleasures.
My family and I spent an extended weekend in Kansas City? Why? Why not? Truthfully, it was close, there’s a lot to do there, and we didn’t want the headache and expense of a long-haul vacation. We had a great time.
Trackside: Valley race fans should be happy
Whether your preference is non-wing sprint cars or late-model stock cars, this is the week that Wabash Valley race fans look forward to all summer.
The best of the best is the only way to describe what will unfold this week at Valley ovals. First comes the continuation of the popular UMP Summer National “Hell Week” tour for late models and its annual stop at Terre Haute Action Track tonight. USAC’s Indiana Sprint Week opens later this weekend with stops at Gas City on Friday night, Kokomo on Saturday and Lawrenceburg on Sunday evening.
Tom Reck: All-Stars get chance to shine
It’s July and that means all-star baseball time.
Redneck Quaker: Yes, you can get paid to go fishing
Get that boat out and let’s go fish’n! We may make some money while having fun!
The Indiana DNR is tagging 500 legal-sized black bass on the three rivers in central and northern Indiana as part of a new research project. “Black Bass” includes largemouth, small-mouth and spotted bass.
Hughes, News & Views: Shouses facing tough decisions about Dexter Jr.’s future
Those of us who have followed Vigo County basketball for more than a decade remember how the families of Greg Oden, Reicina Russell and Chaz Spicer moved to the Indianapolis area before the athletes had a chance to complete high school in Terre Haute.
Will 6-foot-3, 180-pound Dexter Shouse Jr., who turned 14 in May and recently finished seventh grade at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, pack up his belongings and make a similar trip east with his family?
Tom Reck: July a big month for local sports
It’s the first day of July, a month full of golf tournaments and racing — all types of racing — and youth baseball tournaments.
Steady success: ISU continued to climb ladder with one of its best overall seasons ever
First of all, if you’re an Indiana State fan, stand up and applaud. The Sycamores collectively went where only one Sycamore athletic department went before in 2013-14. ISU finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy standings. ISU recorded a score of 3.538, its highest in school history.
Trackside: Rising costs make Valley racing more difficult than ever
The life and times of your weekly short-track racer has long lived up to the colorful and exciting ways coveted by those in the stands who gather each weekend to watch their favorite team or driver compete.
While the weekly trek to the race track has always presented its challenges, the task in recent times has made those trips to the many dirt ovals across the country a little more difficult to make.
Tom Reck: Could ISU’s Odum get drafted?
The National Basketball Association draft is coming up this week. Jake Odum of Indiana State has had several tryouts and looked good in a draft event. It would be nice to see him drafted.
College report: Wabash College relay team earns All-America honors
Some summertime notes from here and there:
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Appeal of World Cup is communal
Columnist explains appeal of World Cup.
TOM LINDLEY: NCAA could become casualty of paid athletes
The time has come in Ed O’Bannon’s class action, antitrust case against the NCAA when lawyers start nibbling their fingernails, those in charge of athletic departments feel their heartbeats climb, and athletes try to get a grip on how things will change if their side prevails.
Trackside: Likable Dave Darland still chalking up victories at 48
One of short-track racing’s all-time open-wheel greats continues to add to his growing legacy.
When veteran racer Dave Darland rolled into victory lane at Lincoln Park Speedway last week, he notched his 94th USAC career win. Add the countless number of open-competition wins over the years and it’s easy to surmise the popular driver is approaching the lofty 200-win plateau.
His latest checkered flag came in the USAC Indiana Midget Week show at the same 5⁄16-mile dirt oval where he cut his teeth in an open-cockpit car more than 30 years ago.
Tom Reck: Valley could be home of some champions
And the beat goes on … for four teams and two individuals in the final week of Indiana high school sports action.
Father, son team up to hunt a cape buff
While hunting “Black Death” in Africa, your mind is racing with everything that can go wrong. The cape buffalo was starting his stalk on the hunters at 30 yards.
Three days before, a father and son team decided a cape buff would be a challenge of a lifetime, so the hunt was on. Word came of an old bull running with a cow buffalo in the Limpopo providence and had been spotted. They knew the pair because the cow buff was even more dangerous than the bull for charging people for no reason.
Todd Golden: Indy 500 book is intriguing look into an important era
Doing the job I do, I get my share of books sent to me at the office. I hate to admit it, but a lot of them cross my eye for a moment, and like anyone else, if the subject matter doesn’t interest me, I don’t open it.
Trackside: Thumbs up given for upcoming Indiana Midget Week
In his many years of serving in the public relation department for the U.S. Auto Club, Dick Jordan has developed a keen sense for rating the overall health and future of dirt-track open-wheel racing.
So when the veteran publicist voices a note of guarded optimism for the running of an upcoming series, one knows something special looms on the horizon.
College Report: Brazil’s Baysinger navigates college tennis waters
Garrett Baysinger of Brazil played his senior season of tennis at Rockville, one of the smallest high schools in the state to field a team in the sport.
In a sport dominated by foreign players for teams in both genders at most levels, the competition for any college roster spot is extremely difficult. Baysinger did well at Rockville and on the summer circuit and earned a spot on the team at Kaskaskia Junior College in Illinois.
Tom Reck: Seven teams, three golfers still have title shots
Most high school sports teams in the Valley have concluded their seasons and are getting set for summer activity but four golf teams, three baseball teams and three golfers will be busy this week with more postseason play — all hoping to play another week in the state finals.
Redneck Quaker: Lidster, Pickering try MacNab Challenge
When a couple of adventurous, 67-year-old youngsters decided to try their hand at taking different species in Africa, they decided to do the MacNab Challenge.
In one day, you have to harvest three species, one with feathers (bird), one with scales (fish), and one with a tail and legs (mammal).
Todd Golden: Good times for ISU athletics
I wish I had a time machine. Would I use it to correct some wrongs in my life or witness some important events in history? Sure, but that’s not what’s on my mind this instant. I’d love to go forward in time to see how the state of Indiana State’s athletic department from the present is perceived in the future.
Ramblin’ Reck: Reflections plentiful from memorable Indianapolis 500
The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 is history and will go down as one of the best.
Weather was perfect and the finish was second closest ever with Ryan Hunter-Reay nipping Helio Castroneves at the finish.
There were few yellow caution periods with the first incident coming on the 150th lap and a race record was established with 6,105 laps completed by the drivers.
Trackside: Crossroads drag strip taking big steps to keep racers
The eyes of the racing world may have been focused on Indianapolis, Charlotte and Monte Carlo this past weekend. But for Terre Haute area fans and racers, the attention was directed at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
That’s where activities at the Terre Haute Action Track and Crossroads Dragway took center stage. News and results surrounding shows at the two venues offered some encouraging news for the future of racing at the southside facilities.
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