Managing Your Finances during Old Age
Peach Basket Parables: Cincinnati and the Longest
There is something special about overtime games, contests in which two teams are so evenly matched that a winner cannot be declared in regulation, which for a college basketball game is forty minutes. An extra period is needed, or deserved, one might say, by the players who have matched each other point for point. In any sport, whether it’s extra innings in baseball or overtime in football, the intensity reaches a new level for the exhausted players and nervous fans.
Overtime means another round of physical punishment for players, many of whom are already running on empty. It becomes more than a battle of basketball skill. It’s a question of stamina and mental toughness. Every possession is critical, and a single lapse in concentration could cost you the game.
Kings of the Clock
Perhaps no other NCAA program is more familiar with going the extra mile than the University of Cincinnati.
While mention of the Cincinnati Bearcats might not command the instant respect associated with the Bruins, Jayhawks, or Blue Devils, there was a period when the program was as dominant as any in the country. From 1959–1963, Cincinnati reached the NCAA Final Four five straight years, and the Bearcats appeared in the championship game three years in a row (only UCLA has done better).
Ironically, the Bearcat’s first title came the year after the graduation of their most famous player, Oscar Robertson, who went on to achieve legendary status in the NBA as one of the best all-around players of all time.
Utilizing a slow-paced, half-court game, new head coach Ed Jucker led Cincinnati to the championship in 1961, beating Ohio State in overtime. The Bearcats bested Ohio State again in 1962 (the only back-to-back championship rematch in tournament history). And in 1963, the Bearcats fell to Loyola in another overtime title game. For the record, the NCAA championship game has gone to overtime a total of only seven times in seventy-five years (as of 2013).
After that splendid stretch under Jucker, Cincinnati’s championship days were over but not the program’s propensity for forcing games into extra minutes. In terms of sheer longevity, there was one overtime game in 1981 that topped all others.
The Longest Game
It was a regular season meeting between Cincinnati and Bradley University on a cold December day in Peoria, Illinois, when an NCAA Tournament berth was still only a twinkle in both teams’ eyes. There was little drama to speak of that night—no epic showdown of big-name players, no trophies at stake, not even a conference bragging rights. It was a relatively unimportant, early-season game on the packed schedule leading up to March. At least, it started out as no big deal.
The Bearcats and Bradley Braves played a fairly routine game through the first thirty-nine minutes. But with forty-five seconds left in regulation, Cincinnati surged from four points down to tie the score at 61–61 and force a five-minute overtime.
That’s when things got really interesting. Both teams slowed the game to a crawl, attempting to score once and play keep-away to protect their lead—a common strategy in the pre-shot clock era. But the get-ahead-and-stall technique did not work for either team. Each scored only two points in overtime, and the score was tied 63–63 when the first extra period ended.
The same scenario played out again in the second overtime—just one basket for each team—leaving the score at 65–65. By the end of the third overtime, the scorekeeper must have been nodding off because not a single basket was made in that five-minute period. It’s not that the players were not trying to win. It’s that each team was all too eager to wait for the last shot, attempting buzzer-beaters to win the game instead of building a sizeable lead. As luck would have it, none of those last-second shots were going in. So the game continued.
The fourth overtime ended at 67–67 and the fifth at 71–71. Both teams scored another bucket in the sixth overtime to leave it knotted at 73-all.
It was getting very late on Monday night, and thousands of exasperated spectators were undoubtedly considering calling in sick to work the next morning. As it turned out, Bradley fans probably wished they had left earlier. By the seventh overtime, two of Cincinnati’s starting forwards had fouled out. Reserve Doug Schloemer found the ball in his hands with two seconds left, and he sank a fifteen-foot jumper from the wing to put the Bearcats up 75–73. With a final desperate shot, Bradley’s Terry Cook almost took the game to an eighth overtime, but his eighteen-footer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
The marathon game was over after seventy-five minutes of play, nearly the length of two full regulation games. It was, and as of 2013 still is, the only seven-overtime game in NCAA Division I history. Bradley’s Donald Reese and Cincinnati’s Bobby Austin, who each played seventy-three minutes that night, share the NCAA record for minutes in a single game.
Purely for its “wow” value, the story earned a few column inches in the sports sections of major papers the next day, but the news faded quickly. The Bearcats didn’t even make the NCAA Tournament that year, and on the whole, it was a rather disappointing season. But the Cincinnati players who ground out those seven overtimes will always own a part of something special. They participated in—and won—the longest game in history.
- Ed Jucker, who coached Cincinnati to its two championships, holds the record for the highest winning percentage (.917) in NCAA Tournament play. It’s a rather misleading statistic, however. Jucker coached for only five seasons. In his first three, his team went to the championship game, winning it twice. In the last two, he didn’t even make the tournament.
- One of Jucker’s most promising freshman basketball players during the 1950’s left the Bearcats after only one season—not to go to the NBA but the play professional baseball. It’s a good thing too. That player was Sandy Koufax, one of Major League Baseball’s greatest pitchers ever.
- The longest game in NBA history took place in 1951, when the Indianapolis Olympians defeated the Rochester Royals in six overtimes. Incredibly, the final score was 75–73, exactly the same as the Cincinnati-Bradley game.
Chapter-Ending Three Pointer
- Reduce your expenses as you age and potentially become less active.
- Prepare the surviving spouse for managing the money after the other’s death.
- Seek professional advice in areas that are difficult for you to decide.
© 2014 Chuck Thoele
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