I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
My wife and I are heading south at the end of the month and are staying in Savannah, GA for a day and a half. I was hoping to meet Cazzie Russell there and have been trying to set this up but the church he was last at (Live Oak in Savannah) appears to have closed. Cazzie is my first sports hero and has remained highly respected. This is a "bucket list" sort of goal on my part and would appreciate any information the board can give me. Is he still living in Savannah?
Thanks very much!
Via Michigan Basketball's twitter account:
For comparison, a shot of 1968-71 PG Dan Fife:
As the Michigan basketball team returns to its traditional place among the nation's elite programs, Alan Glenn, in a Michigan Today piece, looks back a half-century at another time when the program resurrected itself, led by Cazzie Russell, Cager for the Ages
Bob Cantrell played in the Wolverine backcourt before and after Russell's arrival. "The first two years were really torture," he told an interviewer in the '70s. "The roof [at Yost Field House] leaked, there were no fans, we lost all the time. It was just unbelievable. We only had about 200 people at one game, I remember. Everything was football. Basketball was the big joke. If you were a basketball player, everybody looked at you like you were a freak. Then, overnight, they knew who you were. All of a sudden, we were the number one team in the country."
Of course Michigan's reversal of fortune wasn't quite that abrupt, and it wasn't all due to Russell. Coach Dave Strack had been building up the team since 1960, and by 1963 the Wolverine lineup overflowed with talent: Cantrell, Bill Buntin, Larry Tregoning, George Pomey, Oliver Darden. But it was Cazzie Russell who emerged as the star. Almost as soon as the lanky, six-foot-five-and-a-half, 210-pound guard stepped out onto the court, records began to fall. In his first game, a 90-76 victory over Ball State at the end of November, Russell led the team with 30 points. By the following March he had acquired 640 more, earning him the school's season scoring record.
Also included with the article is this vintage video:
I don't know how many of you remember my post about four months ago where I showed off my UM card collection (which led to my meeting a couple great fellow collectors, so thanks again to those guys!) but I wanted to give the board an update on that mainly because of something I received today: the eighth and final card I needed from Cazzie Russell's 2011-12 SP Authentic By the Letter "Michigan" nameplate. Every one of these cards is a manufactured letter autographed by Cazzie and serial #d to 50 (except for the "M" for some reason, that's to 25). Today I finally got to see all eight together and I was pretty excited, so I hoped some of you might enjoy it as well:
and another look:
So what do you guys think?
This question stemmed from a short conversation I had with my mother (MSU alum) during graduation weekend. We were talking about Crisler Arena and she asked "who is that named after?" And I said a former football coach and athletic director. Then I thought, Yost is also another former football player and coach. I began to question, why are our basketball and hockey arenas named after football coaches? Shouldn't they be named after basketball and hockey legends?
So, MGoBlog Community, do you feel that our arenas should be given new names at any point at all? Yes, the amazing legacies of Fritz Crisler and Fielding Yost should not be forgotten, but they were known for football, not basketball and hockey. I propose 3 options to tackle this question:
1. Keep Crisler/Yost the same. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
2. Rename the arenas to Russell Arena/Tomjanovich Arena or Berenson Ice Arena, etc.
3. Compromise and do the trendy thing in college sports: Russell Court at Crisler Arena or Berenson Rink at Yost Ice Arena, what have you.
It would be very, very tough at this point to rename iconic buildings that have stood for many years, thus my vote would go for option 3 if we were to acknowledge a U-M basketball and hockey legend.
MGoBlue.com continues its Leaders and Best in 50 States [plus DC and PR] with the selections that represent the states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Illinois is represented by the great Cazzie Russell who led the Wolverines to three Big Ten men's basketball titles and two Final Four appearances during his storied career at Michigan. In his senior season, he was named the AP, UPI and Sporting News Player of the Year. He was the number one draft pick in the 1966 draft, won an NBA championship with the 1970 Knicks and was an All-Star in 1972.
Russell rewrote the Wolverine scoring record book. He finished his career with 2,163 points, breaking Bill Buntin's mark by 439 points. He set a new single season scoring record in each of his three seasons. His career 27.1 points per game average is still the top in Michigan history, as is his 30.8 season average in 1966, and his 48 point effort against Northwestern to clinch the 1966 conference title has been equaled only by Rudy Tomjanovich. Cazzie was picked No. 1 in the NBA by the New York Knicks and played twelve seasons with Knicks, San Francisco Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.
When Russell came to Michigan the Wolverines played their home games on a removable raised floor in Yost Field House. The enthusiasm and fan support generated by Russell led to the construction of Crisler Area - often referred to as "The House That Cazzie Built." Fittingly, Cazzie's fabled No. 33 jersey was retired and raised to the rafters in Crisler in 1989.
To the humble Russell, he was only a part of the establishment of Michigan's winning basketball tradition and his teammates share equally in creating the momentum for the building of the arena.
Russell followed up his playing career with coaching stints in the CBA, NBA and in college. He was the head coach at the Savannah College of Art and Design for 12 years before the school disestablished the team and is now retired in Savannah.
The Wisconsin honoree is swimmer Talor Bendel who beat out (among others) T-Wolf's dad, the great Michigan running back Butch Woolfolk. Look at Bendel's accomplishments and you'll agree her career was nothing short of incredible. The most All-American honors of any swimmer in Michigan history, she was part of the first and only NCAA championship earned by a Michigan women's relay team.
The late Eric Namesnik is the Pennsylvania honoree. Namesnik was another of the incredibly successful Wolverines swimmers who found success at the conference and Olympic levels. Namesnik was tragically killed in 2006 in an auto accident when his car slid on black ice into oncoming traffic.
|ILLINOIS: Cazzie Russell|
Cazzie Russell (Chicago)
• Cazzie Russell (1964-66) is considered one of the top basketball players of all-time at U-M and in NCAA history. Playing only three seasons (80 games), he scored 2,164 points, won three Big Ten titles, had three NCAA Tournament trips, including a national runner-up finish in 1965. He was the 1966 NCAA Player of the Year, a three-time NCAA All-America and All-Big Ten first team, a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and his No. 33 jersey is the only number to be retired. He was the first overall selection in the 1966 NBA Draft by New York and helped the Knicks to the NBA Title in 1970.
#2) Traci Conrad, Softball
|WISCONSIN: Talor Bendel|
Talor Bendel (Green Bay)
Women's Swimming and Diving
• Talor Bendel was a 20-time NCAA All-America selection, the single-most honors for any swimmer in school history. She won a 1995 NCAA championship as part of the 400-yard medley relay to go along with 13 Big Ten championships.
#2) Molly McClimon, Women's Cross Country
|PENNSYLVANIA: Eric Namesnik|
Eric Namesnik (Butler)
Men's Swimming and Diving
• Eric Namesnik (1989-91, 1993) earned All-America honors in all four seasons and won the 1991 Big Ten 400-yard individual medley title. He won back-to-back silver medals in the 400-meter IM at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.
#2) April Fronzoni, Field Hockey
Now go vote for the best Michigan Wolverine from the state of Ohio: » Vote for the best Wolverine from Ohio.
Your candidates are:
- Ryan Bertin (2 time NCAA wrestling champion)
- Dan Dierdorf (Pro Football HoF)
- Benny Friedman (Pro Football HoF)
- Desmond Howard (Heisman, general awesomeness)
- Dan Ketchum (Olympic gold medal winning swimmer)
- Barry Larkin (Baseball HoF)
- Katie McGregor (Big Ten, NCAA and US champion in various distance running events)
- George Sisler (Baseball HoF)
- Charles Woodson (Heisman, Pro Football HoF caliber career)
- Beth Wymer (3 time NCAA gymnastics event champion)
Damn, how about we choose them all?
- June 28: Delaware and New Jersey
- June 29: Georgia and Connecticut
- June 30: A Bunch of BS Edition (Massachusetts and Maryland)
- July 1: Virginia, New Hampshire and South Carolina
- July 6: North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont
- July 7: A-Train Edition (Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana)
- July 8: Learn About a Wolverine T&F Giant Edition (Mississippi and Alabama)
- July 9: Point a Minute Editions (Maine, Missouri and Arkansas)
- July 13: Leaders and Best in 50 States: Moving to the Diaries Edition (Oregon, Kansas, Texas, Iowa)
- July 23: Leaders and Best in 50 States: Back From a Hiatus Edition (DC, Puerto Rico and 14 states)
- July 26: Leaders and Best in 50 States: Michigan Football Giants Edition
- July 27: Leaders and Best in 50 States: Number 1 Jersey Edition
--- Congratulations to all of the honorees! ---