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Don't Give Me the Scores, Just the Stories: Tales from the Ray Mears Era and More
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...
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
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