ROUNDBALL REDEMPTION
By Scott Warner


Back in the mid Sixties, Clemson University hired a hotshot high school basketball coach named Stuart Breslin in hopes of rejuvenating their traditionally lackluster program. In Breslin’s first season, the team had some success in defeating a few of the customarily powerful teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference. So big things were expected for Clemson the upcoming season. However their team didn’t perform as well that year and they failed to produce the results their fans were expecting. The next season was even worse, the Clemson team reverted to the sloppy apathetic play for which they were noted. The truth of the situation was that Breslin was a secret alcoholic and this was interfering with the quality of his management. So it wasn’t a big surprise when Clemson fired him after the third season.

However he was given another chance when he was hired by a respectable mid-level university, Middle Tennessee State. This team also improved at the start of the season but it didn’t last long, they started to backslide quickly and the season ended in disaster. Again he was fired and rumors started swirling about Breslin. Again an even smaller university, Slippery Rock, was desperate to improve their team’s record and took a chance by hiring him. He didn’t even make it through the whole season, his constant drunkenness was now readily apparent to all.

He knew if he ever wanted to coach again, he would have to quit drinking. But as with all alcoholics, thinking about it and doing it were lightyears apart. He was nursing his usual blinding hangover at home one morning, contemplating his bleak future when the phone rang. It was the Athletic Director of South Southwest Idaho State Tech A&M. The school wanted him to coach their team despite his reputation. They felt that his previous stints at big time universities would help in recruiting local players. His immediate reaction was to decline an offer from such an undistinguished school and he certainly hated the idea of enduring Idaho’s winter weather. But it was another chance and he didn’t have any immediate alternative.

A few days later, he was sitting in the closet that was designated as the coach’s office at SSW Idaho State Tech A&M, still hung over, when the student assistant barged through the door. “Coach, Coach, com’ere, you gotta see this!” he exclaimed. “There’s a guy out in the gym shooting turn-around jumpers from the top of the key. He just made five out of ten shots!” Breslin asked “Is he just shooting by himself or was he being guarded by someone?” “He’s alone Coach,” answered the assistant. “Well then he should’ve made at least seven out of ten,” responded the coach. The assistant said “No no Coach, the other key!

It took a moment for this idea to penetrate through Breslin’s alcohol addled awareness but when it did, his eyes got very big and he walked out to the gym to see what was going on. There was a lithe six foot eight player dribbling towards the free throw lane. When he reached the top of the key, he leaped high into the air, spun around 180 degrees in midair and launched a soaring rainbow towards the far basket. Swish! Then the player raced down the court, retrieved the basketball and walked back to the foul line. He faked a shot, moved his left foot one pace forward and levitated all the way to the basket, slamming the ball through the hoop lefthanded. Tears started down the coach’s face and he sank to his knees. “I promise, I promise I will never ever take another drink!” he murmured. And this time, he really meant it.


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