CofC Athletics Communications
People don't remember the second-place team.
Legendary College of Charleston Head Coach John Kresse knows this all too well. It's true in the game of life. And it's most certainly true in basketball.
Need proof? Let's try a simple thought experiment: What team did Kentucky beat in the NCAA Championship last season? Not too tough, but given a moment or two, you'd probably remember that it was Kansas.
But, if you dig deeper through Lowcountry basketball history, you'll find one team that will never be forgotten - the 1983 NAIA National Champion College of Charleston Cougars.
COFC BASKETBALL ALUMNI WEEKEND -
30TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY 1983 NAIA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Event: Legends Game (prior to CofC vs. Chattanooga game)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013
Time: 1:45-2:45 p.m. (ET)
Location: TD Arena (Free and Doors Open to the Public at 1:30 p.m.)
"We lost the conference title game in 1982 to USC Spartanburg (now USC Upstate) in the last game played in Silcox (Gym)," Kresse said. "Spartanburg went on to win the national title. We had an awareness of how close we were. But, no cigar in '82."
Losing that game hurt. But in that defeat, the Cougars understood how good they could become. Kresse, for his part, knew how much talent he would have coming back for the 1982-83 season.
"We had six or seven players on our team who could have gone Division I, but they chose the College to get their degrees and to play NAIA Basketball," Kress said. "Steve Yetman was a great point guard and Greg Mack was an NAIA All-American forward. We had a real solid center named John Brett. We had three positions with top-notch talent."
That season, Mack was named District 6 Payer of the Year and led the team with 15.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. But it was Yetman, Kresse recalls, who was the emotional and vocal leader of the squad.
"Yetman was a tougher-than-nails point guard," he said. "He could score and he could dish. He just rose to the occasion throughout the conference tournament and the national championship in Kansas City."
The atmosphere at Kemper Arena in Kansas City was electric. In the days before national basketball games were plastered all over the national television networks, fans flocked to see live action like the NAIA Championships.
"You had eight games a day for the first few rounds," Kresse said. "They tipped off at 9 a.m. in the morning and the last game tipped of around 10 p.m. in the evening. They would get 9-or-10,000 people for some of the games.
"It was a basketball feast."
And feast the Cougars did.
"We had to play five games in five consecutive days," Kresse said. "It was a wearing and pressure-packed situation. There were 32 teams in town and only one was going to be left standing."
CofC won its first three tournament games against St. John's (Minn.), 67-43, on March 15, 1983, Pan Handle State (Okla.), 64-62, on March 16, 1983, and College of Santa Fe (N.M.), 67-62, on March 17, 1983, earning a spot in the national semifinals.
"I distinctly remember defeating Chaminade in the semifinals, 66-65," said Kresse of the team from Hawai'i that knocked off No. 1-ranked Virginia and Ralph Sampson earlier that season. "That was a great game which set us up for the championship game the next night against West Virginia Wesleyan."
The Cougars went on to defeat the Bobcats, 57-53, and brought home the championship - the banner now hangs in TD Arena above John Kresse Court. Yetman was named the Tournament MVP and CofC finished the season 33-5 overall, which still remains the most wins in a single season in program history.
"If there was ever a tourney where you just had to survive and advance," Kresse said. "It was that NAIA Championship."
A week before Jim Valvano ran in circles in search of someone to hug as NC State won their NCAA National Championship, the Cougars and Kresse landed in Charleston amidst a celebration and a throng of supporters.
"We flew into the old Charleston airport and security was different back in those days," Kresse said. "We had people waiting for us on the tarmac. When we got off the plane, there were 2,000 people to greet us. It was a phenomenal atmosphere and very exciting.
"It was one of the greatest weeks of my life. It was as good as it gets."
For CofC fans, Kresse's 1982-83 squad will never be forgotten. The College of Charleston athletics department will honor the 30th anniversary of that victory on Saturday, Jan. 12, during CofC's Southern Conference game against Chattanooga. A "Legends Game" featuring CofC all-time greats such as Anthony Johnson, Thad Delaney, Sedric Webber, Troy Wheless, Greg Mack, John Brett, Pat King and Stacy Harris will be played from 1:45-2:45 p.m. on the main floor of TD Arena. Doors will open at approximately 1:30 p.m. and the alumni game is free to the public.
Coach Kresse will coach one set of the alumni squads with former head coach Bobby Cremins, while former head coach Fred Daniels and CofC Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and former player Otto German will coach together on the other sideline.
1982-83 COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON NAIA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM ROSTERNo. Name Pos. Hometown 10 Keith Coleman G Philadelphia, Pa. 11 Stuart Schuck G Fallston, Md. 13 Steve Yetman G Brooklyn, N.Y. 14 Bob Killian G Lakeland, Fla. 20 Richard Monsees G Northport, N.Y. 21 Ron Carter C Axton, Va. 24 Ed Carroll F Birmingham, Ala. 25 Mike Bosch F High Point, N.C. 30 William Coleman F Orange, N.J. 32 T.C. Sabbs F Jacksonville Beach, Fla. 33 John Brett C New York, N.Y. 44 Greg Mack G/F Orangeburg, S.C.
Head Coach: John Kresse Assistant Coach: Tim Orvin Assistant Coach: Ken Stibler Manager: Billy Guilford