It’s always good to have players who can step in and help a team out. That definitely can’t be overlooked. The Philadelphia 76ers have a great bench with Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. That’s already been established and we’re only 10 games into the season.
Aside from Williams, Young and Turner, guess who can also come off the bench? His name: Tony Battie. He started in place of Spencer Hawes, out with a lower back strain, against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Battie, a 6-foot-11, 240-pounder, scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field in a losing effort.
But statistics don’t tell the whole story with Battie or his value to the team. At 35, he understands his role as a veteran. This is his 13th season in the NBA. He’s been around the league a few times. His knowledge and experience is invaluable to all the younger players. And the Sixers have a quite a few.
If you watch him play, he gives you everything he has on the court. It seems as if he’s never out of position in regards to rebounding. He plays good defense. He looks for the open man. Battie does all the little things. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, only played Battie for 13 minutes against the Knicks. But you got the impression he could have played longer if the Sixers needed him.
Battie played his college basketball for Texas Tech. His older brother, Derrick Battie, played for Hall of Fame coach John Chaney at Temple. Derrick Battie played with Aaron McKie, Eddie Jones and Rick Brunson.
During the summer months, Tony Battie would come to Philadelphia to take part in the late John Hardnett’s workouts. Those practice sessions were loaded with outstanding players like McKie, Jones, Brunson and so many other NBA players with Philadelphia connections. The workouts were at Gustine Lake Recreation Center, Ridge Avenue and School House Lane.
Tony Battie would polish his skills in preparation for the upcoming NBA season. The hard work, discipline and competition have really paid off for him. He knows what it takes to play a long time in the NBA. That’s why he is still around.
Tony Battie was with the Sixers last year. He knows the players, the system and understands Collins’ coaching philosophy. He plays within his limitations. He is the perfect veteran for this team.
The Sixers have a 7-3 record. They’re in first place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division. They’re playing the Washington Wizards tonight at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. After that, the Sixers will head down to Washington D.C. to play the Wizards on Saturday, January 14 in a back-to-back game. The Sixers will have Sunday off, but they’ll be back on the court for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day game against the Milwaukee Bucks. That’s a lot of basketball. But Tony Battie has been around this game a long time. He knows how to pace himself. If the Sixers need him, he’ll be ready.
Eddie Jones flew in from Weston, Fla. Lamont Ferrell and Jerome Dowdell came up from Atlanta. Players from all over the country wouldn’t dare miss the chance to honor Hall of Fame coach John Chaney for making a difference in their lives.
There were more than 25 former Temple basketball players who paid a special tribute to Chaney on Saturday afternoon at the Philadelphia Platinum Grill in Chestnut Hill on Crittenden Street.
The special banquet was organized by Ferrell and Darrin Pearsall, who put together the program where Temple players told stories of their playing days for Chaney. They also did some light roasting and toasting. The players talked about the road trips, the 6 a.m. practices and other memorable moments they shared with their legendary coach.
More than anything it was a chance for several of the players to thank Chaney, who not only coached these players, but helped to shape and mold their lives for the better.
The testimonials were very moving. Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones were two of the players who spoke at the event. McKie and Jones had stellar college and NBA careers. McKie grew up in North Philadelphia and played his scholastic basketball for Simon Gratz. Jones hailed from Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla. McKie and Jones played on three NCAA tournament teams including one of Chaney’s five Final Eight teams. Both are Temple graduates. Both spoke glowingly of their coach.
“Coach came to get a little kid out of North Philadelphia who really didn’t have much going for him,” said McKie, now an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. “You injected life into [me] coach. I appreciate everything. When I go different places people recognize me. They know I’m from Philadelphia and Temple University. The first thing they asked me is how is it playing for Coach Chaney? How were the 5 o’clock (morning) practices? You know, I get a joy and a pleasure to talk about coach because he’s well respected. Not only is he a Hall of Famer. He’s a Hall of Fame coach and an even better person.”
Jones had some great words for the longtime mentor who taught him a number of lifelong lessons on North Broad Street.
“Coach, what you have done for everyone in here, we can’t put a price on it,” Jones said. “Without you I would have been one of the same little guys in the neighborhood talking about what could have been and what should have been. You brought us around and showed us life. You taught me how to be a father. You taught me how to be a husband.”
In addition to McKie and Jones, there were several other former Temple players who spoke such as Chris Laws, Dwight Forrester, Nate Blackwell, Mike Vreeswyk, Derrick Brantley, Jason Ivy, Tim Perry and Jerome Dowdell. Ferrell was the master of ceremonies.
Also in attendance were a couple of Chaney’s basketball standouts from his Cheyney State teams. Keith Johnson, Coppin State assistant basketball coach, played on the Wolves’ 1978 NCAA Division II championship team. Michael Blackshear played on one of Chaney’s Final Four teams at Cheyney State.
Chaney led Temple to a 516-253 record and 17 NCAA tournament appearances from 1982-2006. Prior to that, Chaney’s record was 232-56 at Cheyney State, including one national title. His legacy includes some great years as a coach, but he also provided his players with a chance to receive a good education and make better lives for themselves and families beyond basketball.
“It’s great to see these guys interacting with each other in a brotherly way,” Chaney said. “To hear that their son or daughter is going to Temple it just explains so much about what was said to me about one of our great teachers, Marcus Foster. He said, ‘You can take one poor kid out of a poor and humble living and you can take that youngster and send him through high school and college. He can change the dynamics of his entire family. That’s what you heard today.”
NOTE: Other Temple players in attendance included: Mark Macon, Levan Alston, Duane Causwell, Kevin Clifton, Lynard Stewart, Mik Kilgore and Howie Evans.
The Philadelphia basketball community just lost another special person. Alonzo Lewis, former Darby High and La Salle University basketball standout, died in a car accident on Tuesday night, Feb. 21. Lewis was one of the all-time great players and coaches in the Philadelphia area. He was a trailblazer for so many people who played the game of basketball. Lewis, 77, was a person who certainly made a difference in the lives of youngsters for a long time.
Lewis was a big time player at Darby High. He scored 1,048 points in his career. He was a 6-foot-3 guard who could do it all. He could handle the ball, shoot from the outside, hit the open man, rebound and defend. Lewis was a complete player. There was no question about it.
It was no surprise that a school like La Salle recruited him. The biggest thing was the timing. There weren’t many African Americans playing at the five city schools. Jackie Moore, former Overbrook High star, preceded Lewis at La Salle. Moore was a real pioneer. He was the first Black Explorers’ player. He was also the first African American to play for the NBA’s Philadelphia Warriors.
Lewis played three seasons with the Explorers. He played on La Salle’s 1954–55 team, which dropped a 77-63 decision to the University of San Francisco in the NCAA championship. That San Francisco team had Hall of Famer Bill Russell. Lewis scored 1,137 career points while averaging 13.8 points a game during those years. Lewis was inducted into the La Salle College and Big 5 Hall of Fames for his basketball prowess.
“If it were another time, he would have been an NBA player,” said Jay Norman, former Temple basketball standout. “He had the size. He had the ability. It was just not the time. You figure he was a year after Hal Lear (ex-Temple star). Lear didn’t make it and was a great shooter. Al [Lewis] was bigger. It was just the times. A year after Al, Guy (Rodgers) comes along and had a great career (at Temple). A year makes such a big difference.”
Lewis did play in the old Eastern League, which featured some great players like Wally Choice, John Chaney and others. He played against the best. Lewis knew competition would bring out the best in every player.
Lewis and his good friend George Carey from Darby used to take players everywhere to play the game. Charles “Pete” Coleman was a terrific shooting guard for two back-to-back state championship teams at Darby-Colwyn High (1962 and 63). Coleman played with Hal Booker, Sonny Realer, Dave Kennard and Adrian Harmon on those state championship teams that posted a 50-0 record over that two-year period. Lewis had a big impact on Coleman’s game.
“He used to come to my house on Saturday morning,” Coleman said. “It would be early on Saturday morning. He would get me up and take me up to (Darby) Township to play basketball. He had me playing one-on-one fullcourt. He wanted me to be in shape. Then, he would take me in the city to play at Tustin (Recreation Center, 60th and Lancaster) and Marian Anderson (Recreation Center, 17th and Fitzwater).
“I remember Al and George took us down to (Washington) D.C. to play basketball. We played against Dave Bing down there. He loved basketball. He believed in discipline. He’s going to be really missed.”
In addition to being a mentor, Lewis was a sensational basketball coach. He coached Geoff Arnold during his scholastic career at Darby Township. Arnold played on some marvelous teams under Lewis’ tutelage. He also went on to have a magnificent college basketball career at Saint Joseph’s University. He is now an assistant basketball coach with the Hawks.
“Al was the man who introduced me to Philadelphia basketball,” Arnold said. “He took me down to South Philadelphia. He dropped me off with Claude Gross who coaches in the Sonny Hill League. I played for the South Philadelphia team in the Hill League. Al introduced me to so many people over the years. I remember he took us out to Cheyney State when John Chaney was the head coach there. We had a chance to watch Cheyney State practice. His relationship with John Chaney and all the guys in the Eastern League was incredible.
“He used to pile five and six guys in his car and take us to summer league games. He truly cared about the kids. I told a guy about him and the Sonny Hill League. We’re able to do the things that we’re doing because of Al, Coach Chaney, Claude Gross, Tee Shields, Tony Samartino, James Flint Sr. and Cal Smith. Those guys gave their time for the betterment of us. I’m talking about Bruiser (Flint, Drexel head coach), Monte’ Ross (Delaware head basketball coach), Horace Owens (La Salle assistant), Jeff Battle (Wake Forest assistant) and others who are now college basketball coaches.”
Lewis coached at Darby Township and Academy Park for several years during the late ’70s and ’80s. After that, he moved to Chester High where he had a tremendous 10-year coaching career (1985–1995). He posted an impressive 237-67 record. In 1989, he led the Clippers to an amazing 30-2 record and a PIAA state championship. Following his Chester High coaching career, he was later the head coach at Cheyney University. Fred Pickett was an assistant on Lewis’ Chester staff and later succeeded him at the head coach there. Pickett will never forget the basketball legacy Lewis developed over the years.
“He has meant so much to the enrichment of the basketball program and the model he put in place,” said Pickett, who was the head coach at Chester for 13 years, posting a 331-80 overall record while winning three state championships. “He had so much knowledge. He really cared about the kids. We’re looking forward to doing a memorial tribute next Saturday night (at Chester High on March 3 at 1 p.m.). He did everything with the kids in mind. He wanted them to grow. He wanted them to grow as young people. He gave them a lot of exposure.”
In addition to coaching, Lewis was a public school teacher. He placed a lot of emphasis on achieving on and off the court. Lewis lived in Chadds Ford with his wife, Kathy, and daughter, Alison. The other survivors include another daughter, Anastasia, along with three grandchildren. The funeral arrangements are not complete at this time.
The only entity that could outshine Wilt Chamberlain the athlete is Wilt Chamberlain the man.
The athlete is known for the seminal 100-point game on March 2, 1962, against the New York Knicks, and for setting 128 professional basketball records — 98 of which are still standing.
But the man is known for much more than grabbing more than 50 rebounds in a game versus Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics; Chamberlain’s mark truly lies in his philanthropy, as he donated his time, money and celebrity status to dozens of charities throughout his life.
And it’s in the spirit of that life that The Wilton Norman Chamberlain Postal Stamp Committee held a luncheon in his honor Friday at the District Square Plaza. The gathering was also designed to bring more attention to the committee’s drive to have the United States Postal Service issue a stamp honoring the “Big Dipper.”
City basketball icons Billy Cunningham and John Chaney served as co-hosts for the luncheon, which included a virtual parade of friends and peers who knew Wilt — his sister, Selina Chamberlain-Gross, gave he invocation.
“There were eighty to a hundred charities Wilt was dedicated to,” Cunningham said. “There were so many parts of Wilt. He certainly left this world a better place than he found it.”
Chaney, in his own unique way, paid homage to perhaps the greatest basketball player this city has ever produced by blurting out, “Wilt owes me money!” Once the laughter died down, though, Chaney grew serious when he talked about the impact Wilt had, not only on the basketball court, but in virtually every other aspect of life as well.
“Wilt is one of the greatest philanthropists … the city is not aware of his great philanthropy,” Chaney said. “Wilt was a person who had a vision, and I was impressed by how he was able to think so many years ahead. Wilt was someone very special.”
Chaney and others spoke of the good works done by the Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Fund, which has granted scholarships to deserving students throughout the years.
Essence White, an engineering major at Smith University, is one of the students assisted by the fund, and sent a note of gratitude. “I give great thanks to the Wilt Chamberlain Foundation for helping me,” the note read in part. “I hope to one day give back to the youths the same way the foundation gave to me.”
One would think Chamberlain is deserving of a stamp on the sheer strength of his community involvement and giveback nature alone. Factor in Wilt’s mastery of the game of basketball, and he should be considered a shoo-in.
“He was a special guy who did special things,” said current Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy, who has Temple’s basketball team nationally ranked for he first time since Chaney stalked the sidelines. “He was just way too great a man for me to say anything important about.”
Fran, like many of Wilt’s peers and teammates, recalled how truly unstoppable Wilt was on the court.
Chamberlain was born on August 21, 1936, and once the graceful seven-footer took up basketball, he immediately put his school — Overbrook High School — and then his college — Kansas State — on the basketball map.
After leaving KSU, Chamberlain joined the Globetrotters before joining the National Association of Basketball’s Philadelphia Warriors, and it’s here that more casual fans pick up on Chamberlain’s career. Chamberlain went on to play in the league for 14 years, and remains the only professional basketball player to have his jersey number retired by every team he played for.
Chamberlain was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979, and in 1996, was named as one of the 50 greatest players of all time.
Chamberlain’s still-standing records may indeed never be broken. Only Kobe Bryant’s 81 points scored in a game comes close to Chamberlain’s 100; that same year, Chamberlain had a 50-point scoring average. He also has a record 55 rebounds in a game against Russell and the Celtics, and 1959, Chamberlain was Rookie of the Year, league MVP and MVP of the NBA All-Star Game.
Wilt also sponsored an all-women’s track team, “Wilt’s Wonder Women,” which counted Olympians Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Florence Griffith-Joyner as members.
“Nobody was bigger than Wilt,” said former Harlem Globetrotter Carl Green, who would play pick-up ball in New York City with Wilt, at the height of the Philly vs. new York basketball rivalry. “I’m older than Wilt, but the things he taught me; and his family treated me like family.”
Former Knick and Los Angeles’ Laker Tom Hoover drew laughter when he recalled that Chamberlain was once going to fight Muhammad Ali. “I told Wilt, you can make this fight happen, and we can make some money, but Ali is going to kick your ass,” Hoover recalled. “Just like you and I have played basketball all our lives, Ali has been boxing all of his.” Luckily, Hoover and others were able to talk Chamberlain out of it.
“We developed a friendship over the years … he was a humanitarian, he helped everybody,” Hoover said. “The big fella — he was a beautiful person.”
Sill, everything rotated back to that magical night 50 years ago.
Harvey Pollack, the Philadelphia 76ers’ longtime director of statistical information was the one who gave Chamberlain the piece of paper with “100” scribbled on it. Chamberlain is holding that sheet of paper aloft in one of his more famous pictures. Pollack was busy with a number of jobs during the game.
“There never was a greater player than Wilt,” Pollack said, noting that Chamberlain would have had even more records had the league tracked blocked shots and that, as a center, he once led the league in assists. “He played 50 years ago, but most of his records still stand.”
Many politicians voiced their legislative support, then talk turned to making Chamberlain’s appearance on a postage stamp a reality. U.S. Rep. Robert Brady recalled being a kid in the Overbrook Park section of the city, with “passing the ball to Wilt Chamberlain” was his greatest athletic moment as a young man. Brady stated that last year he introduced House Bill 71, which calls for the postal service to issue the stamp.
State Representative Ronald G. Waters also presented citations to the stamp committee and Chamberlain’s family.
“We will get this done,” said Waters. “Because it’s well deserved, and the right thing to do.”
Those on the postal stamp committee sounded optimistic that something can be done, and soon. The committee has been at work for roughly three years now, and hope for the issuance of the stamp in the next year or two.
“We have been on this journey for a while,” said stamp committee chairman Roger C. Bogle. “And I can say we are under consideration for the stamp.”
Committee member Michael Bruton spelled it out further.
“I believe we’re on track,” Bruton said, noting that people can also sign the petition online. “And it’s important to hear from influential people. Brady and several others have written letters, including former governor Ed Rendell and NBA Commissioner David Stern. We feel that should help.”
Legendary sports writer and postal stamp committee co-chairman Donald Hunt agreed.
“The key word here is ‘deserved,’ not just for his game but for the man he was,” Hunt said, while mentioning that the committee has amassed roughly 55,000 signatures so far. “It’s our hope that we can get something done, sooner rather than later.”
Danny Pommells brings plenty of knowledge and experience to the Philadelphia sports scene as the new sport anchor and reporter for Comcast SportsNet. And there’s a good reason for that. Pommells, a Temple University alumnus, grew up in North Philly playing sports. Basketball was his favorite.
“I’m from the Hunting Park section of North Philly,” Pommells said. “I cut my teeth over there. I would get up early in the morning bouncing the ball down the street, waking up people on my way to the park. It’s funny, I used to go to that (Nicetown) Boys and Girls Club that Shane Victorino (Phillies outfielder) rehabbed. I used to walk over there with my brother. We would walk past (Simon) Gratz and Erie Avenue. I definitely grew up playing hoops, that was my first love.”
Pommels played some basketball with former Drexel basketball star Ashley Howard, who is now an assistant basketball coach at Xavier University. He also had a chance to play against Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant when he tried out for the Sonny Hill League at Cobbs Creek Parkway.
Pommells received a good foundation for sportscasting during his collegiate days at Temple University. He started out doing news, then gradually moved into the sports arena.
“I remember when I was in ninth grade I went on a tour of (CBS 3) TV station and Ukee Washington was doing sports,” said Pommells, who attended St. Joseph’s Prep hid freshman through junior years. As a senior he attended Bishop McDevitt. “Ukee does news now. I was really excited about doing work in television after that.
“I always liked to write. When I got to Temple, I had a chance to work at WRTI. I covered a lot of things. I did the chamber of commerce. I remember covering Jesse Jackson when he was in town and all kinds of things. That’s where I learned how to write for broadcast and where I really honed my skills.
“I came in one day and they didn’t have an assignment for me. So, I hung around for a little bit. Then, they asked me if I wanted to cover a Sixers game tonight. I told them yes and went down to the Sixers game. I went into the locker room after the game. The Sixers had Allen Iverson. They had a lot of reporters around him. I remember going back to the station and putting the story together. That’s where I knew how much I really liked sports. You can be real creative with sports, whereas news you have to be straight forward.”
Pommells got his big break when he had a chance to do the color announcing for the Temple women’s basketball team.
“I had an opportunity to do the games the year before Dawn Staley came to Temple,” Pommells said. “I worked with Jeff Skversky (6ABC sports anchor). He did the play-by-play and I did the color announcing. We did that for about two years. We traveled with the team. Then, he graduated. I stayed and did the color announcing for a third year. Throughout that time, I had internships at Channel 6 and the old WPHL-17 and WYBE.”
Pommells also had an opportunity to interview Hall of Fame coach John Chaney during his days on North Broad Street. He had to do a story on the passing of basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain.
“I remember the day Wilt Chamberlain died,” he said. “I had to do a story for WRTI on him. I had to interview John Chaney. I was just 19 years old at time. That was really something. I was interviewing John Chaney, a real legend. I remember him talking about Wilt. It was a good experience for me.”
Pommells, 33, graduated from Temple with a degree in communications in 2002. After that, he sent out about 60 tapes. He landed his first job at WMDT in Salisbury, Md. Pommells worked as the sports director during his time at WMDT.
Before joining Comcast SportsNet, he spent time as a weekend sportscaster at KCRA in Sacramento, Ca. and WGAL in Harrisburg, Pa. He has covered a number of sporting events such as the 2007 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors playoff appearances, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers training camp, Baltimore Orioles spring training and California state basketball championships.
Pommells is looking forward to covering the Philadelphia sports landscape in the fall. There should be a lot of good stories. He plans to be right there when the action happens.
“I can’t wait until the fall when you have the Philadelphia Eagles, Sixers and the Flyers,” Pommells said. “I’m really excited about covering the teams. I’m really blessed. I appreciate all the support from my wife (Michaela) and family (Kaila, Bella, Julius). I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the success without them.”
Philadelphia has lost one of the best sportswriters and one of the all-time great human beings. Herm Rogul, former Bulletin sportswriter, was laid to rest Thursday at Shalom Memorial Park, Byberry and Pine Roads, at a graveside service. Rogul passed away on Sunday, Feb. 5. He was 72 years old.
Rogul was a long time sportswriter in this town. He spent 20 years at the Philadelphia Bulletin. He started there in 1962 and wrote for the Bulletin until the newspaper closed in 1982. His “People in Sports” column was the most popular feature in the sports section for two decades. Rogul was in the forefront of the sports writing profession, one of the early sportswriters to pen a sports notes column.
“People in Sports” highlighted local sports people on the high school, college and professional levels. If you were a local athlete, coach, official, sports leader, etc., you were one of Herm’s people. He wrote about everybody connected to the Philadelphia area. He had 6,321 byline articles during his career at the Bulletin. That’s big time.
Rogul wrote about Sonny Hill, Sixers executive advisor and Philadelphia basketball legend. Hill really appreciated the coverage as well as the relationship that evolved over the years.
“What he meant to me and my journey,” Hill said. “If it were not for Herm Rogul, the journey that I’ve been on possibly could have not continued after my basketball career. Herm Rogul and I bonded back in the late ’60s. I read his column before I knew him.
“Herm had seen me play when I was in high school (Northeast High). He had followed my career. He would put things in “People in Sports” about my career when I was playing in the Eastern League, when I was playing for Local 169, the old Industrial Basketball League, Harlem Comedy Kids and the recreation Gold Medal Tournament.
“He was a guy that kept my name before the public. Then, when we were finally able to meet and I was able to find out what he was about as a human being, and the better he understood what my journey was all about, that’s when we bonded.”
Hill was certainly one of the names that regularly appeared in his column. In fact, his name was in Rogul’s final Bulletin column along with some terrific sports people such as Wilt Chamberlain, Linda Page, Billy Harris, Eldred “Jay” Bagley, Nate Ware, Joe Anderson, Vince Richardson, Rene Muth, Theresa Shank, Joe Anderson, Mike Bantom, Gene Banks, Dana Clark, Tom Gola and others. Every name was highlighted in his column. That way everybody would stand out.
Rogul wrote about players before they became stars. He wrote extensively about Joe Bryant and John “Chubby” Cox. They were both outstanding players. But Rogul also wrote about Kobe Bryant before anybody knew who he was.
Stanley Greene, former Germantown High and Penn basketball star, was one of the players that Rogul wrote about during his early years in school. Greene remembers reading his name in “People in Sports.”
“I was at Wagner Junior High,” Greene recalled. “It was my first basketball game. I barely made the team. By the end of the season, I moved up to sixth man. I was on the team with Milt Colston and Phil Andrews. Phil played for Frankford. We were a pretty special squad. I wasn’t much of a factor then. At the end of the season, we got a mention in People in Sports. That was the first time I got my name in the paper. I held onto it for years and years.
“Then, when I was a junior at Germantown, we had a super squad with (DeCarsta) “Byrd” (Webster), (Tim) Claxton and George Johnson. We would scrimmage jayvee squads. We scrimmaged Temple’s jayvee. Apparently, Herm was at that scrimmage. He made different comments on me. He mentions that Jay Norman said ‘I needed to play my smart game.’ I said, ‘Wow, one of the coaches from Temple said something about me.’ ”
Norman, a former Temple assistant coach, who also starred for the Owls basketball team with Guy Rodgers and Hal Lear, knew Rogul for a long time. He was more than a sportswriter to him.
“If there was ever somebody with a strong human interest, it was Herm Rogul,” Norman said. “He really cared about people. He was concerned for a purpose. They don’t make them like him anymore. We’re going to really miss him.”
Rogul wrote extensively about the Sonny Hill League and the Baker League. He put a lot of players and coaches on the basketball map in Philadelphia.
After leaving the Bulletin, Rogul was a copy editor and a sports columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune for several years. Then, he wrote various sports articles for a number of local newspapers. He taught a news writing class at Temple University. He wrote a book titled “WINNING SPORTSWRITING For Good People Who Really Care.”
Rogul was a graduate of West Philadelphia and Temple University. He dearly loved both schools. His classmates at West Philadelphia High were actor Robert Hooks and NBA legend Ray “Chink” Scott. Tee Shields, former West Philadelphia High basketball standout, was also one of Rogul’s classmates and good friends.
“I met Herm in 1957,” Shields said. “We both went to West Philadelphia High. We played basketball together at the Hamilton School at 57th and Spruce Streets. Herm had a lefthanded jumpshot. He had the flat foot floozy. He didn’t jump real high. In 1961, I went away to college (South Carolina State). When I came back, Herm was writing for the Bulletin.
“I’m just very sorry to see him go. He was there in the beginning of the Baker League and Sonny Hill League. He really liked my brother Leonard Shields. He always managed to keep my name in the paper.”
Rogul grew up in West Philadelphia, but spent many years in North Philadelphia. He lived in the Yorktown section of the city. Rogul did a lot for me. He always sent me letters of encouragement. He offered great suggestions for different stories. He was a big help with our Wilt Chamberlain postage stamp effort at the Tribune.
In 2004, I wrote the book “Chaney: Playing for a Legend,” with former Temple stars Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones. The book was real a tribute to Hall of Fame coach John Chaney from two of his greatest players.
Rogul really liked Chaney. He was very fond of McKie and Jones as well. I remember asking him to write the preface for the book. He not only wrote the preface, but also edited the entire book before it went to the publisher. Rogul was more than happy to do it.
Three years ago, he took particular interest in my son, Donald Hunt. My son played basketball for the High School for Creative and Performing Arts. He played in the Sonny Hill League, too. In 2009, the William H. Markward Basketball Club named him the Unsung Hero. Donald had to give a speech in front of about 250 people at Markward Club's annual dinner. Rogul worked with him on his speech. My son and I have never forgotten that. Everything turned out extremely welll thanks to him.
Rogul did things out of the kindness of his heart without asking for anything in return. He was truly a special person.
Cheyney University has an outstanding basketball tradition. If you look at the Wolves’ basketball history, there’s no shortage of great players. John Clifton is one of Cheyney’s top basketball players.
The school will recognize Clifton on Friday, Oct. 19 when it inducts him into the Cheyney Athletics Hall of Fame. The ceremony, beginning at 7 p.m., will take place in the Ada S. Georges Dining Hall on the campus of Cheyney University.
Clifton played center and forward from 1968 to 1972 for the Wolves. He averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game. Clifton played for head coach Dr. Tony Coma when the Wolves were one of the best Division II teams in the country. Clifton is looking forward to ceremony.
“I looked it up and saw Vivian Stringer,” Clifton said. “When I played she was coaching the women’s (basketball) team. She’s a very good coach. She’s now coaching at Rutgers. Then, of course, Coach (John) Chaney, Hal Booker and the team that won the (1978) national championship with Milton Colston and Roger Leysath. They’re a lot of great players like (Tom) Trooper Washington, (Charles) “Buff” Kirkland, a good friend of mine.”
The list of quality basketball players that came through the Wolves program was very impressive. Clifton remembers all of them.
“Buff and I came in together as freshmen,” Clifton said. “It was amazing Buff didn’t start. I was really amazed at how quickly Buff emerged as a great player. We had Leroy Eldridge. He kept us under control. We called him ‘Captain Leroy.’ He was an upperclassman. He was a very good leader. We had some good guards like Eddie Swain, Robert Dorsey and Antoine Harrison.
“Antoine was a very good shooter. He had a great outside shot. They didn’t have the three-pointer at that time. He would take a jumpshot right near the out of bounds line and next thing you know you would see him making that shot and he would be out of bounds. Julius Williams was another great player.
“Then, we had Vernon Greer (who passed away a few years ago). He was a good player. In fact, Leroy told me to bring Vernon with you when you go into the hall of fame. This is kind of a tribute to him. Vernon talked about this event a few times after I left Cheyney. I really didn’t think about it very much. I didn’t think I would make it, but when it came to this moment I thought about Vernon Greer. He was a great player.”
Clifton was one of the quickest big men in Cheyney history. At 6-7, the school’s student body likened him to Bill Russell, Hall of Famer and Boston Celtic great.
“They gave me that nickname because I was left-handed,” Clifton said. “My technique on that team was playing defense. I tried to block shots underneath the basket. I became pretty good at it. Defense helped our offense. You had to play defense. We had a very fast team. We averaged over 100 points a game. Basically, you know when we had a fastbreak all five of us would be down there.”
Clifton was a great baseball player at Olney High School. He played American Legion Baseball for the Philadelphia Tribune Stars. He had some major league baseball interest from the Cincinnati Reds. He had even talked to Skip Wilson, former Temple baseball coach, about playing college baseball. But everything changed when he decided to visit Cheyney.
Clifton was a member of the NCAA Division II Final 16 team in 1971 and won the state conference championship two consecutive years. He resides in Philadelphia where he is a computer system analyst for Independence Blue Cross.
He will be inducted with the following individuals: Theodore I. Glass (football), Joseph A. Iezzi (athletic trainer), Patricia Pate-Shaw (basketball and volleyball), Marilyn Townsend (tennis) and Wanda Williams (basketball).
Marc Jackson knows how big an accomplishment being selected to the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame is. Jackson, former Temple star, will be inducted in the Big 5 Hall of Fame on February 21 in a ceremony at The Palestra. He will become the 23rd men’s basketball player in Temple history to be elected.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Jackson said. “It’s a big honor. You think about all the great players who have come out of the Big 5, that’s incredible. I’m really thankful for this induction. It’s major.”
Jackson was a major player for the Owls. He originally transferred to Temple from Virginia Commonwealth. In 1997, he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year. He was a two-time all-Atlantic 10 and all-Big 5 first-team honoree (1995-96, 1996-97). He was also a two-time NABC first team all-District performer.
He scored 1,059 career points and grabbed 567 rebounds in his three-year college career, including 1,001 points (15.9 ppg) in his two seasons at Temple. Jackson, a Roman Catholic High product, led the team in scoring and rebounding his last two seasons with his best year coming as a junior when he averaged 16.1 points and 9.0 rebounds a game. He led the Owls to a 40-14 record and advanced to the NCAA tournament both seasons.
Jackson grew up in North Philadelphia about five blocks from the Temple campus. He credits ex-Temple basketball star Walter Byrd, John Chaney, former Temple coach and Hall of Famer and John Hardnett, Sonny Hill League coach, for most of his success.
“Walter Byrd was my first coach,” Jackson said. “Walter Byrd came up to me. He was a big, strong guy. He told me to go in the house and ask your mother who Walter Byrd is. My mother told me you should go with him. He’s going to teach you about basketball. Then, I come to find out that my mother used to work for him at Schwartz Playground. That was the first time somebody introduced me to basketball. He worked with his son, Kwame Byrd and me.
“Coach Chaney really taught me life lessons. It was more than just basketball with him. He was a great coach. We had some great teams. I remember beating Villanova and Kansas one year and they were both top ranked teams. Coach Chaney did a good job with me. It was nice playing for him.
“John Hardnett was my coach in the Sonny Hill League. John spent a lot of time with me. He worked with a lot of players in the Hill League. I really appreciate all things he did for me. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great people around me throughout my career.”
Jackson decided to forego his senior year and make himself available for the NBA draft. He was a second round draft pick in 1997 of the Golden State Warriors. He started his professional basketball career in Europe before joining the Warriors for the 2000–01 season where he was named to the NBA all-Rookie team. Jackson played two seasons for the Warriors.
After that, he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played one year for the Timberwolves. Then, he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. He played two seasons with the Sixers. In 2005, he was dealt to the New Jersey Nets. In 2007, he finished his NBA career with the New Orleans Hornets. Jackson played the next three years in Europe before retiring.
Jackson resides in Tampa, Fla., with his wife and family. He now serves as a studio analyst for Comcast SportsNet, providing post game commentary on the Sixers.
Sunday March 10 will be a big day at Temple’s Liacouras Center. The Owls have a huge Atlantic 10 Conference game with nationally ranked Virginia Commonwealth University at noon, the final home game for the seniors.
It’s also the 25th anniversary of one of Temple’s greatest basketball teams. The school will honor the 1987-88 team that finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll in halftime ceremonies.
It was an outstanding team the featured players Tim Perry, Mark Macon, Howard Evans, Ramon Rivas, Mike Vreeswyk and Duane Causwell. Hall of Fame coach John Chaney was named the National Coach of the Year for leading the team to a school record-tying 32-2 mark. Chaney has some great memories of that team.
“You know one of the great things I always emphasized and this team was the epitome of – discipline,” Chaney said. “They were well disciplined, and perhaps having great teams throughout my life and certainly Cheyney (1978 national championship team) was one, but I had three or four great teams that epitomize discipline.
“Discipline in terms of purpose, discipline in terms of direction, and kept themselves on the track to success from the beginning of the season until the end of the season. Discipline is the highest form of intelligence. We had some great players on that team. I’m looking forward to seeing them at the game.”
The Owls were disciplined. They worked and practiced extremely hard. They were successful, too.
Perry was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Macon, a 6-foot-5 guard, was a freshman and earned second-team Associated Press All-America honors. He came to Temple as a McDonald’s All-American. Evans was one of the best point guards in college basketball. The former West Philadelphia standout had a tremendous performance against Villanova on Feb. 10, 1988. In that game Evans dished a school-record 20 assists, scored 17 points, hit nine of 10 free throws, grabbed six rebounds, had two steals and only one turnover in Temple’s 98-86 victory. He was named first-team All-Atlantic 10 that season.
Rivas, a 6-foot-11, 250-pounder, did a lot of the little things. He set massive picks for Macon and Vreeswyk. He was always near the basket for rebounds and easy putbacks. He played good defense, too.
Vreeswyk was a sensational three-point shooter with great range. The fans at Temple’s McGonigle Hall used to yell “Threeswyk” in recognition of his great outside shooting. Vreeswyk received second-team All Atlantic 10 Conference honors.
Causwell, a 6-foot-11 center, and Perry, a 6-foot-9 power forward, gave the Owls an impressive shotblocking combination. There weren’t many players who would come down the lane against them.
Temple posted some exciting victories over UCLA, Villanova, North Carolina and Georgetown. The Owls won the Big 5 City Series and the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament championships. Temple had an 18-0 record in the A-10 but eventually lost Duke, 63-53, in the NCAA East Region Final.
The other team members were Derrick Brantley, Jerome Dowdell, Shawn Johnson, Tom Katsikis, Darrin Pearsall, Ernest Pollard and Shoun Randolph.
Atlantic 10 to induct first class of men’s hoops pioneers
John Chaney, former Temple head coach and Hall of Famer, leads the Atlantic 10 Conference inaugural class of Men’s Basketball Legends. The 2013 class includes 16 former players and coaches who made an immeasurable impact on each A-10 institution and its basketball program.
“The considerable contributions each of these gentlemen made to their institution and its basketball program played in an important role in shaping the foundation of men’s basketball in the Atlantic 10,” stated A-10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “Whether it was building a program that eventually became a founding member or furthering the conference as it grew into a basketball power, each of the honorees is a part of the fabric of A-10 history and we’re thrilled to be able to honor them.”
The Men’s Basketball Legends will be honored on March 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. prior to the 2013 men’s championship semifinals. The group includes 11 former players, three head coaches and two individuals who were both a player and a coach for their respective institutions.
Chaney led the Owls to 516 wins, 17 NCAA tournament appearances and five trips to the Elite Eight in his 24 years at the helm (1982–2006). The school’s all-time winningest basketball coach, who retired in 2006 with 741 career wins over 34 seasons, earned consensus National Coach of the Year honors in 1988, the year he guided Temple to its first and only No. 1 national ranking. He also earned USBWA National Coach of the Year honors in 1987.
In all, he led Temple to 23 postseason appearances in 24 seasons. He won 296 Atlantic 10 Conference games and was named A-10 Coach of the Year a record five times. His Temple teams won eight regular season Atlantic 10 titles and six A-10 tournament championships.
There’s plenty of local flavor with this class. Tom Gola and Mike Bantom will be honored as well. Gola is the NCAA’s all-time leading rebounder, pulling down 2,201 in his four-year career. The 6-foot-6 forward is the third all-time scorer at La Salle, pouring in 2,461 points in his career (18.7 ppg), while leading the Explorers to the 1952 NIT championship and 1954 NCAA championship.
Gola was a four-time All-American and was named National Player of the Year in 1955. La Salle compiled a 102-19 record during Gola’s playing career, two of those seasons under his captainship. A jack of all trades, Gola tried his hand at coaching too, compiling a 37-13 record as head coach at La Salle from 1968 to 1970. A 1961 La Salle Hall of Athletes inductee, his No. 15 jersey is retired and hangs from the rafters in the building named after him, Tom Gola Arena.
Gola was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 1975 and is also a member of the Big 5 Basketball Hall of Fame, the Helms College Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He was ranked 17th on ESPN’s “Countdown to the Greatest” college basketball players. Gola led La Salle High School to a Philadelphia Catholic league championship during his prep career and still resides locally, along with his wife Caroline.
Bantom was one of the greatest post players in Saint Joseph’s history. He earned All-American honors in 1972–73, was named to the NABC All-District first team twice, and was also selected to Philadelphia’s All-Big 5 first team as a junior and senior.
The three-time All-Middle Atlantic Conference selection ranks as the Hawks’ second leading all-time rebounder with 1,151 and is ninth in career points with 1,684. He averaged a double-double in his career with 20.0 points and 13.7 rebounds.
He led Saint Joseph’s in rebounding all three seasons and in scoring as a sophomore and junior, and posted career-best averages of (21.8) points per game and (14.8) rebounds per game in his junior year. He was selected by the Phoenix Suns in the first round (8th pick) of the 1973 NBA Draft, and tallied more than 8,500 points and 4500 rebounds in a nine-year NBA career with five different teams.
Bantom capped his career as a member of the 1982 Philadelphia 76ers team that reached the NBA Finals. He also played professionally in Italy, and was the first and only SJU player to be a member of the U.S. Olympic team, with his participation in the 1972 Summer Games.
He was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1979 and into the SJU Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981. He was also inducted into the Saint Joseph’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000. His uniform number (44) was retired by the school on March 1, 2003.
The other inductees include Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle (Butler), Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell (Charlotte), Donald “Monk” Meineke (Dayton), Chuck Cooper (Duquesne), Johnny Bach (Fordham), Arnold “Red” Auerbach (George Washington), Lou Roe (Massachusetts), Steve Chubin (Rhode Island), Johnny Newman (Richmond), Earl Belcher (St. Bonaventure), Anthony Bonner (Saint Louis), Gerald Henderson (VCU) and George “Skip” Prosser (Xavier).