Don't Give Me the Scores, Just the Stories
Tales from the Ray Mears Era and More
E-Book (available as ePub and Mobi files)
During the 1960’s and early 1970’s, University of Tennessee basketball reached a level of excellence that placed the program among the nation’s round ball elite. The Vols had an inspirational coach in Ray Mears who created a new excitement in basketball “on the hill.” He orchestrated the pageantry of Hollywood on the court combining a basketball tradition with “show biz” along with a new winning attitude. The UT band, students, cheerleaders, and the community were all a part of Coach’s basketball extravaganza; everyone was a star in his show. Tennesseans eagerly anticipated the next game in the confines of Stokely Center as a family and community spirit prevailed.
Mears operated his program with class as the All-American appearance was exhibited by his players and coaching staff. Even the atmosphere within Stokely was “spit shined” on game nights to represent the wholesomeness that Americans admired. Players--representing their communities, their families, and, above all, Ray Mears and the basketball program at the University of Tennessee--understood no misbehavior was tolerated.
The players acquired a quality education at UT, and they received a second degree from Ray Mears who taught them to deal with adversity, the importance of hard work and discipline, and a great respect for authority. They practiced together, ate together, traveled together, won together, lost together, and, like it was all a dream, left the University to begin their careers. But all of them today retain the learning experiences gleaned from Ray Mears, and his influence emerges in the personalities of many of his players. Billy Justus, a former All-American, once said, “If I could ever play again, there would be only one coach I would want on my bench and that would be Ray Mears.” When Billy made that statement, he spoke for all of us.
A lot has been written about Ray Mears and the basketball excellence he attained while at the University of Tennessee, but only a few young men have had the rare opportunity of participating in his program. This book is a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to perform for one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time as seen through the stories told by his former players.
Ray Mears--the ringmaster; Ray Mears--the showman; Ray Mears--the miracle worker; or Ray Mears--the salesman. Pick any of these descriptions of the man who directed the Vols, and they all describe the coach that led Tennessee to some of the most successful years in basketball. Don’t Give Me the Scores, Just the Stories portrays life under the “Big Top” when Tennessee basketball players experienced some of the best years of their lives.
During the Mears Era, the Vols played against arguably the greatest guard to ever have played college basketball, “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Pete played for his dad at LSU and was a scoring machine. He was a showman and a master magician with the basketball; making passing an art, he put the ball behind his back, through his legs, around his neck, or whiplashed it from hand to hand. Receiving his passes was an ordeal in itself as he hit guys in the head, the back, and the stomach.
When “Pistol” Pete came to Knoxville, the “show” was always a sellout and a hot ticket. His scoring average was consistently over forty points per game, but when he played the Vols, they always managed to hold him in the twenties. Mears and Aberdeen would play a box and one on him, meaning the defense would play zone on all the other players and one Vol would guard Maravich man-to-man. This defense plus the Vols’ deliberate offensive style limited Pete’s scoring. During his entire career at UT, Billy Hann, one of the best defensive guards and playmakers to ever wear the orange and white, guarded Pete.
In his final game against Maravich in Stokely, Hann was doing another splendid job of holding Maravich’s scoring down when he picked up his fifth personal foul. As he went to the bench and sat down, he happened to look up. Pistol Pete had followed him to the bench and had bent over, appearing to say something to Hann. The crowd sensed a show of sportsmanship from “The Pistol” and began to stand and applaud.
After the game, Marvin West, a sportswriter for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, stopped by the locker room to interview Hann. The first question he asked was: “After you fouled out, that was a great show of sportsmanship by Pete Maravich to come to the bench and shake your hand, especially since you have held him down in scoring for the last three years. What did he say to you?” Billy responded, “He called me a no good son of a bitch and he hoped to never see my ugly face again as long as I lived.”
Several years later Billy Hann, passing Pete in an airport terminal, tried to talk to him; but Pete, still remembering Hann’s tenacious defense, refused his amicable approach.
Mike Edwards grew up in the basketball-rich state of Indiana, learning the game on the playgrounds and boys’ club in his hometown of Greenfield, Indiana. The Hoosier native made his mark on the central Indiana hardwood. Coached by Indianapolis Tech and Purdue standout, Mel Garland, and Joe Stanley, Edwards attained an amazing 2,343 points during his high school career. This accomplishment presently ranks him seventh in the overall Indiana scores list. He led the state in points in 1969 (36.4 average) and was the state’s second leading scorer in 1968 (32.0 average). His shooting prowess earned him All State and All American honors his senior year along with a selection to the prestigious Indiana All Star Team.
Edwards’ accolades did not end on the high school level but followed him to the University of Tennessee where he played for Ray Mears. Nicknamed the “Greenfield Gunner,” he helped lead the Vols to the NIT in 1971 and a SEC Co-Championship in 1972. Edwards was named to the All SEC Team in 1972 and again in 1973. He was voted the SEC Player of the Year in 1972 by the UPI. The “Greenfield Gunner” averaged 30.1 points per game on the Tennessee Freshmen Team, and he finished his varsity college career with 1,343 points before the three-point shot was initiated. He was an Academic All SEC in 1971-72-73 and an Academic All American in 1972. Edwards was drafted by the Indiana Pacers and played basketball professionally in Mexico.
Mike spent sixteen years coaching basketball on both the high school and college levels. In 1994 he was elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team, and in 2003 he obtained the ultimate honor for all Hoosier roundballers—induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Edwards resides in Maryville, Tennessee, along with his wife of over thirty years Debbie. Both are schoolteachers.
Don’t Give Me the Scores, Just the Stories is Mike’s second book. The Last Tiger, an Indiana Basketball Story, his first book, was published in 1995.
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