Until recently, my favorite vault was the one you’ll see roughly 20 seconds into this immortal video clip:
Life IS like a hurricane in Duckburg!
That all changed when I discovered The ACC Vault. Launched last December, the Vault is a repository for highlights and full-length conference games dating back to the early 1980s. It’s also home to some of my favorite childhood sports memories.
The Vault isn’t perfect. There are some odd gaps in it; for instance, it includes no Duke- Carolina games after 2001, and the spelling in some of the highlight descriptions is pretty poor.
There’s no end to the joys you’ll find in the ACC Vault. Here are five that should bring back some memories.
Unfortunately, I can’t embed Vault video, so you’ll just have to follow the links:
Eric Montross bleeding (skip to the 47:30 mark)
Well, sort of. I vividly remember seeing a bloodied Montross after Christian Laettner elbowed him in the face in this game. But the Raycom telecast never actually showed any blood; I must have confused the video with the photo in the next day’s newspapers (Score one for the print media).
At any rate, click this link and skip ahead to the 47:30 mark. Watch for a minute, and you get the Laettner elbow, Billy Packer suggesting Montross “caught a finger in the eye” and the big man’s exit.
From the bitter (if you were a Duke fan at the time) 1994-1995 season. Capel’s three, which sent the game into overtime, was the only true highlight of a year that saw Duke fall from the national title game to a losing record.
Fun fact: I still have a Cherokee Parks jersey from this season, which marked the first instance of the curse of the jersey alteration that has plague Duke and Carolina. In ’94-’95, Duke added some odd shoulder squares to their jerseys and fell apart. Seven years later, UNC replaced “North Carolina” with the interlocking “NC” logo on its jerseys and stumbled through an 8-20 season.
Childress is one of the ACC’s great lost players. His 1995 performance stands as the greatest ACC Tournament any player has ever had: 40 points versus Duke, 30 versus Virginia, 37 in a title game win over UNC. For the tournament, Childress averaged 35.7 points and 6.3 assists per game. The Vault features eight highlights from his run, none from the UVa game.
He also pioneered the “T-shirt under jersey” look. For showing us how to hide our armpit flaps, I and fat white guys everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude. As does J.J. Reddick. After being a first-round draft pick in 1995, Childress played sparingly for two NBA seasons before blowing out his ACL and going overseas.
N.C. State’s run to the 1983 national title, still the unlikeliest Cinderella run in history, begins in earnest with a long-shot win over Ralph Sampson and Virginia in the ACC championship game. The Pack beat UVa again in the Elite Eight.
I have a pet theory about this team. As wonderful as the title was, I’ve always thought it caused a lot of damage to the N.C. State program, too. It may have been too much, too soon, raising expectations (and pressure) and setting the table for the excesses of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It also probably led the N.C. State administration to overestimate a certain alumnus during its 2006 search for a head basketball coach.
Another brilliant player of the 1990s, Rogers was the ACC Player of the Year in 1993. Oddly, the Vault omits Rogers’ greatest college highlight, but it still illustrates the incredible mix of skill and sheer athleticism that marked his game. Rogers spent 12 years in the NBA, won the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2000 and had (arguably) the best nine seconds in league history during his rookie season.
For all his basketball success, Rogers has lived a life of tragedy. While he was in high school, his mother spent two weeks in the hospital and three in a coma after a car accident. An older brother spent most of Rogers’ childhood in prison for armed robbery. The stepfather who raised Rogers died of lung cancer during Rodney’s freshman year in college.
After his 2005 retirement, Rogers returned to Durham and worked for the city as a heavy equipment operator. Coworkers had no idea he was one of the greatest players in ACC history. A November 2008 dirt bike accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.