I came home yesterday and Larry Hansgen’s book, True Team, covering last season’s run in the NCAA Tournament was waiting patiently. At 57 pages, and presented in a bound magazine format, it’s a retrospective that even people who read with their lips constantly moving can get through rather quickly. It is somewhat organized like a Tarantino script, jumping back and forth to various points of the Elite Eight campaign, covering Dayton’s early success, their sluggish start to conference play and their glorious tournament run.
Although the book doesn’t offer many previously undisclosed insights, it is well written, has some pretty pictures and functions as a solid testimonial to Dayton’s unforgettable season. It is the table book you never expected to own for a myriad of reasons.
Here then are the five and a half tastiest nuggets:[separator type=”default-double”]
[dropcap style=”fancy”]1[/dropcap]Hansgen watched City by the Sea, starring Robert DeNiro, in his hotel room before the Syracuse/Dayton tournament game. I list this first because it was honestly the biggest takeaway from the book. When I finished the book, my mind immediately began to race — why did Larry mention this fact with such specificity? Why was he so engrossed by this particular film? Is he a huge DeNiro fan? What does this mean, if anything?
It will literally be the only thing I remember about the Elite Eight season ten years from now. Larry Hansgen, sitting in his discolored Hanes briefs, clearing Cheeto dust off his barrel chest while completely engrossed by a movie none of us have ever heard of. At least that’s how I’ll choose to recall it.
[dropcap style=”fancy”]2[/dropcap]Larry recounts the time Devon Scott was not allowed to board a charter flight to Rhode Island in late January. Scott’s driver’s license had expired and the charter company would not let him to fly without proper identification. After a delay, the rest of the team proceeded to Providence without him as Scott returned to campus, picked up his passport and was forced to take two commercial flights to get to the game on time that night. Now according to your predilection, this either tells you everything you need to know about Scott, or nothing at all. I fall into the former category.
Later in the book, Hansgen details the birth of Scott’s son and how it positively affected him. Larry states that at the time he thought Scott “was the one Flyer who could least afford to have the distraction of a child,” (and yes, you can read into that what you will) yet it seemed to have changed him for the better.
This book apparently went to press before the first week of April, 2014. I think Hansgen would have preferred to leave this particular section out of the book if he could have, knowing what we know now.
[dropcap style=”fancy”]3[/dropcap]One of the better anecdotes actually dates back a few seasons. Hansgen uses a particular incident to illuminate Devin Oliver’s leadership skills, already evident during DMO’s first season at UD. Although it does serve as a testament to Oliver’s character, it also helps establish that Brian Gregory’s final squad at Dayton, the 2010-11 team, didn’t subscribe to the “True Team” mantra (at all) that the most current roster bought into so readily down the stretch last season.
“I heard this from Chris Wright’s mom,” Arch recounted to me. “Chris was getting harassing phone calls throughout the season (from girls and I guess some guys in the area) the night before the game, on the road at four in the morning. He would change his number, but the calls kept coming. It turns out a younger player on the team was doing it. It started as a joke, but it got out of hand. Other players joined in. Finally Devin Oliver stood up in front of the team and said this is not right. Stop it. He took a stand and that takes a lot of courage for a young kid, probably the 10th man on the team–and it stopped.”
Remember those claims that Chris Wright wasn’t well liked by his teammates? Exhibit A right here. Subsequent to this passage, Hansgen explains that the final team Gregory coached at Dayton experienced a great deal of “internal strife.” Which, if you watched that club, you would have likely assumed anyway.
[dropcap style=”fancy”]4[/dropcap]Bucky Bockhorn nearly died before the Stanford game. I will allow Hansgen some artistic license, as the story seems exaggerated beyond belief. Larry claims that he picked up a ham and cheese sandwich for Bucky and returned back to the hotel around 3 pm that afternoon. Bucky devoured the sammy, jumped in the shower and immediately noticed that his tongue was getting thick, his lips were swelling and he was breaking out in hives. According to the author, the sandwich had somehow been “cross-contaminated” with shellfish, which Bockhorn is allergic to.
For some reason, Bucky is taken to the lobby of the hotel to find the team doctor (why the doctor wasn’t called to the room will forever remain a mystery). Bockhorn travels with Epinephrine pens in case such an emergency rears its’ ugly head. Hansgen continues the story:
It was right about then that I arrived in the lobby, and one look at Bucky told me something was wrong. The doctor was about to give Bucky his life-saving shot. “There I am surrounded by all these people, with my fat guy hanging out — and you can quote me on that,” Bucky said afterwards. “What I then hear is the doctor saying, ‘Ouch, I shot myself.'”
Like something out of fucking Chevy Chase movie, the doctor managed to stab himself with the needle. Larry heroically retrieves a backup Epi pen from Bucky’s hotel room and the doctor, on his second attempt, shoots Bockhorn right in the ass with it. Grim Reaper avoided.
Allegedly, Bucky is loaded up with ice packs on the way to the game, to reduce the swelling and severity of the hives, and was met at the FedEx Forum by EMT’s and doctors. Hansgen recalls that the doctors began “to work” on the aging broadcaster right up to the opening tip. Bucky was shaking throughout the first half, yet still managed to pass a series of tests by the doctors at halftime.
This story reveals two things: (1) Bucky is on death’s doorstep, and (2) will likely die soon after he retires from broadcasting. Maybe immediately after his last game at the mic.
[dropcap style=”fancy”]5[/dropcap]From page 51: “I may not be as superstitious as Archie, but I have my own rituals. I worked out in the afternoon wearing the same Reptar t-shirt (from TV’s Rugrats) that I wore when I worked out before the Syracuse game.” Again, a random fact I didn’t know what to do with. My best guess? Hansgen includes this detail to indicate his irreverence and extreme aversion to authority. How many women have woken up in Larry’s Rugrat shirt after a night that got weird too quick? That’s in the next book, friends.
[dropcap style=”fancy”]5.5[/dropcap]Hansgen commits several pages of his book describing the direction of the team, and the overall momentum of the season, leading up to the Georgia Tech contest in Atlanta. He explains that he was in contact with Brian Gregory prior to the team’s flight down south and the former head man at UD informed Larry that “win or lose,” both Hansgen and Bucky were invited to his home after the game. Larry quickly rehashes the Tech tilt, a game in which the Flyers got off to a bad start early before taking over the game in the second half, eventually edging out the Jackets by ten points.
After the game, Bucky and Larry returned to the team hotel, not planning on visiting with BG, and were probably going to chase up some sketchy skirt when Bockhorn’s phone rang. It was The Coach, Brian Gregory, and he was calling to inquire as to their whereabouts. After disclosing their location, BG drove to pick them up and chauffeured them back to his house, where I assume Gregory spent the majority of the night showing off his blowfish collection and drunkenly referring to Dayton as “Shitball, USA.” Larry expresses astonishment that BG, apparently in the throes of disappointment over that night’s disheartening loss, would take the time to ensure the UD announcing duo were at his estate later that night — even though, as Hansgen states, BG extended his offer “win or lose” prior to the game.
I realize Hansgen considers BG a friend, and will always hold him in high regard, but how shitty (or awesome) would it have been if Gregory blew him off after the game? I would have had so much more respect for Gregory if he picked up his phone, hesitated and placed it back down on his desk. “You know what? Fuck those guys.” Larry uses this instance as an example of what a good guy BG is (and I’m sure he is). It just seemed that he was going unnecessarily out of his way to give some written dap to a coach, and a friend, he covered for years back in the Gem City. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being cynical.