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November 19, 2012

Dave Odom

Anthony Randolph

Ralph Sampson III

Mike Vasconcellos


THE MODERATOR:  Thank you for joining us this morning.  Today is opening day for the 29th Annual EA Sports Maui Invitational, the premier early season college basketball tournament.  We're here today to celebrate and recognize the 30th anniversary of what many call the greatest upset in college basketball.
Many of you are familiar with the story, but just to set the stage on a couple of things.  December 23rd, 1982, little known Chaminade defeated then number one ranked Virginia, 77‑72.  Kind of an interesting fact.  The story was reported back to Jim O'Connell at the New York AP sports desk by a stringer calling in via phone, and no, that was not a cell phone.  It was covered in person by an upstart Washington post reporter named Michael Wilbon, who is one of only a few reporters to actually see the game.
We're honored today to have several key people that were involved in that game and played a key role.  We'll talk to them about what it meant to them and how it impacted their careers, their lives, and college basketball.
To my left here is Dave Odom.  He's the current EA Sports Maui Invitational Chairman, and former University of Virginia assistant coach under Terry Holland.  He was the head coach at SouthCarolina and Wake Forest.  To his left, Ralph Sampson, three‑time college Player of the Year and number one draft pick of the Houston Rockets in 1983.  He was a 2012 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and begins this season as a player development coach for the Phoenix Suns.  To his left, Tony Randolph.  At 6'7”, Tony was put in charge of guarding Ralph during that game.  The two of them grew up with each other near Virginia and played against each other in high school in pick‑up games.  Tony stayed in Honolulu since graduating from Chaminade.  He was a counselor in the state family court system for 21 years, and is currently the Dean of Discipline and assistant basketball coach at Saint Francis School.  Welcome, Tony.
To his left is Merv Lopes.  Merv, of course coached Chaminade in that famous game.  He coached at Chaminade for 12 years.  His record was 247‑130, and he holds the highest winning percentage in Chaminade coaching history.  Welcome, Merv.
To his left, is Mike Vasconcellos.  Mike was Chaminade's athletic director in 1980, and was instrumental in hiring Merv Lopes and starting the Maui Classic in 1984 which we now know as the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
So with those introductions, we kind of set the stage here as to who we are talking to.  Coach Odom, if I can start with you and if you could just make some opening comments and tell us a little bit about your memories and thoughts from that game 30 years ago?
DAVE ODOM:  It's a real honor to be here, and I appreciate the EA Sports Maui Invitational people, Palmer and others for putting this together today.  Sometimes when you hear the word celebration, sometimes you think everybody's happy.  We who represented Virginia that day were not particularly happy on that occasion.
But as I've said so often, so many times on my trips here to the island, any time you have a chance to be part of history in a positive way, and though on the short term, that was not a positive event for the University of Virginia.  As you look at that particular game and the outcome of that basketball game, the results, Chaminade beating Virginia on that famous occasion has done so much for basketball in the islands, and I think even globally.  It brought basketball to the islands sooner than it would have ever gotten here.  It's done more for it.
It's brought a lot of notoriety to the islands.  It's brought a tremendous amount of revenue to the islands.  It continues to get better each and every year.
As Ralph and I have talked several times, I'm just disappointed that Terry Holland who was the head coach at the time and the one that worked with Mike Vasconcellos and Merv Lopes to put this game together, I'm sorry he was not able to be here.
But I know that he sends his best and feels the same way that I do, that it was a real honor to be part of the game and to see the brand of basketball that was played that night grow and get better.
Certainly Chaminade as our host school continues to be a real partner in the growth of college basketball here on the islands.  So it's a real pleasure for us to do that.
THE MODERATOR:  Ralph, you got a chance to get back to Maui.  Can you tell us a little about your thoughts of the game and coming back to Maui and back to Hawaii?
RALPH SAMPSON:  It's always good to come to the islands.  Fortunately we had the opportunity at Virginia to come here three times in three different years and play, and in the NBA coming to the islands four or five times in training camps.  Now recently ten years ago being here for the 20th anniversary, and it's always good to come back, and seeing Tony being from the same hometown area, Coach Lopes and everybody that's been friends through different segments.  It's like coming back and seeing good friends and family and always enjoy coming here.
THE MODERATOR:  Tony, as I mentioned in the introduction, you went from high school in Virginia and came to Honolulu and Chaminade and loved it so much you stayed.  Maybe you can talk a little about the game and what you've been doing in Honolulu?
TONY RANDOLPH:  I think it's truly a blessing to be here today.  I thank God coming from a small town Virginia and, again, humble beginnings, knowing my friend Ralph.  We've played along with each other as well as against each other in high school, and having the opportunity to come to Hawaii and such a beautiful state and beautiful people and to have landed at Chaminade.
Who would have thought 30 years ago such a tiny school with not that many known.  And today here we are on ESPN.
I think the young men that I had to play with as teammates were awesome.  Their hearts were much bigger than their size on paper.  And also we were fortunate to have such a great coach and staff and athletic director who had vision to create what we have today.
I guess it has a life of its own, the memories and the game against Virginia.  But Virginia was a power house.  They had Ralph, but they also had other great players, Wilson, Ricky Stokes, Rick Carlisle, I mean, Terry Holland, I give him much credit.  He was a competitor.  To give us the opportunity to play such a powerful team.
But over the years it's been to me and my family, and the Ohana at Chaminade is spiritual.  It's a lifetime where we're given the opportunity and we all share in this together as brothers, to see the obstacles in all of our lives.  Yet to me it seems God reminds all of us that we're in charge, and we're just his twos.  We will let us know at any given time that he controls our destiny as long as we believe in him, we can overcome anything.
THE MODERATOR:  Merv, the coach that really guided this group of players and pulled them together.  Talk about your thoughts and going into that game and how you prepared your team for the game and kind of your memories here we are 30 years later talking about the game?
MERV LOPES:  Thank you.  First of all, I want to thank Chaminade for the support to have me be part of this great event.  I don't see her here today, but Pam Goodman has been a big supporter of Chaminade and me and my family.  So I want to thank all of you for keeping in touch with all of us.
As far as the game is concerned, everybody knows what happened at the game, and I'm not going to elaborate a little bit on it.  But I think I would like to say that we played Virginia, and we played Ralph, and we have had some success with some big teams as far as Chaminade and they're a big school and everything they have.
But without Ralph Sampson being involved with this game, we will not‑‑ we would not be here today.  So I want to say thank you, Ralph.  I appreciate your humbleness and your great attitude of coming over here and supporting this great event.
I just want to say to everybody thank you so much for including all of us.  I'm sure we'll take some questions as we go along and I'll just let the guy who had the great vision to put this great game together, Mike Vasconcellos.
THE MODERATOR:  Mike, why don't you make a few comments.  Obviously, as Merv said, you were the athletics director that put the game together, and you can say a few words, that would be great.
MIKE VASCONCELLOS:  Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR:  Mike, we can have some folks talk to him later if we've got some questions for him.  Thank you, Merv.
COACH ODOM:  Let me tell you what it was like for Virginia heading into this basketball game.  It was kind of a week that was.  It began the Tuesday prior to our time in Honolulu.  As Palmer had mentioned, we were the No. 1 team in the country coming into that season, and we were playing at Duke on a Tuesday night.  It happened to be the first three‑point shooting of the arc‑‑ the three‑point shooting arc, the one that those of you who are old enough to remember, was inside of the foul circle.  We were just trying it out that year.  College basketball was in 1982.we played at Duke on that Tuesday night, and we won rather handily, to be honest about it.
We went from there to Georgetown on Friday night where Georgetown had a freshman named Patrick Ewing.  And of course we had the twin tower night, Ralph playing for Virginia, and Patrick Ewing for Georgetown.  I think that game was nationally televised, which was unprecedented at that time in 1982.  We won that game.  It was not particularly well played by either team, but we won that game.  We were supposed to leave the next day to go to Japan to play.
But there was a huge snowstorm in the northeast, and it was delayed until Sunday.  So we leave out of Kennedy Airport on Sunday and fly to Anchorage.  We stop, refuel and seven and a half more hours we get to Tokyo.  We spend one day kind of getting ourselves adjusted to the time.
I remember looking we were out, and Ralph, you may remember this, we were out in some sort of plaza some place.  I was standing at the top of the plaza looking back, and there was this tall figure down at the base of it with all these very, very short Japanese people around.  I mean, I don't think Ray had ever seen anybody that tall, and he had never seen anybody that short.  It was something I've never seen.
I remember getting in an elevator.  And Mike and I were standing in an elevator going up.  And the Japanese people were standing around and in broken English said, he must be playing basketball, talking about me.
I was so much taller by a head and a half than the people in the elevator were with us.  But we played two games there in Tokyo.  Neither of which Ralph was able to play.  He was sick.  Not sick‑sick, but somewhat dehydrated from the trip.  We were able to win both.  We beat Utah in the first game, the Runnin' Utes with Jerry Pimm, and then the second game a couple of nights later, we beat the University of Houston.  Olajuwon and Drexler, and who were some of the others?  Larry Micheaux and Michael Young.
They had a great team, and they went on later in the year to be beaten by NorthCarolina State out of our league.  We beat both of them without Ralph.  Then we get on the plane the next day and go to Honolulu.  I will honestly tell you, we had our best practice.  Ralph was feeling better.  And we went out on University of Hawaii's football field and played touch football.  I think one of our quarterbacks one of the teams Wilson quarterbacked the other.  We had a great time.  Everybody was in great spirits.
But what we should have been doing was practicing that day instead of screwing around on the football field.  I know Merv Lopes had his guys practicing.  Tony Randolph was dunking and doing all the things that good players and good teams do.  But we were out messing around.  As a result, the next night, Chaminade took it to us, earned the game, even though Frank and Jesse James were refereeing.  I hope you're laughing.  I'm just kidding.  Come on.
SPEAKER:  Excuse me, Coach, but Mike says you know what?  They're bringing their own referee.  I said, what?  So he had a little ace in his hand.  So they had their referee in there too.
DAVE ODOM:  Frank and Jesse came off of Molokai somewhere.  I've told that story so many times that whoever Chaminade plays in this tournament, they've checked the referees first.
Anyway, that kind of gives you an idea.  But the last thing, and I'll say this and then you can talk to some of these others.  After the game, people asked me what it was like in the locker room, and I can tell you, we had‑‑ I don't know how many seniors.  We had Ralph, we had Craig Robinson, we had Doug Newburg, I think there were only three.  Usually the reporters went right to our seniors for after game comments.  None of our seniors, including Ralph, were willing to say a word.  It was like dead quiet.  We had one guy in there that spoke up, and I think everybody was mad at him for doing it.  It was Rick Carlisle, who is now the coach of the Dallas Mavericks.  He was the one talking.  He was kind of the team's spokesman.  He said what he said.
Merv, you'll appreciate this.  And I'll shut up, I promise you‑‑ maybe.  We go to the airport the next day, and I think it's something like December 23rd, just before Christmas.  We're sitting in the waiting room, getting ready to get on our flight back to the main land, and all of us are bummed out.  I happened to be sitting with Terry Holland over in the corner.  In comes two or three of the local TV stations.  Our Sports Information Director, Rich Murray at the time calls me.  No, Doug Elgin at the time calls me over and says, Dave, could you get Terry to come over?  The local TV people want sort of postmortem comment from him.  So I said I don't know, I'll see.  I said, Terry, they want to talk to you about what it's like to lose to Chaminade.
He just looked up at me and says, I'm not going to make any comment.  He said, you just tell them it's the day before Christmas, I'm on vacation, and by the time the news gets back to the main land that we lost to Chaminade, it's so preposterous, nobody's going to believe it so it's not worth commenting on it.  He didn't get up and he wouldn't go over there.
So that's the way it ended.  It turned out not to be preposterous.  Merv Lopes and his Silversword team earned it, and the rest is history.
THE MODERATOR:  Dave, I really appreciate that.  Recanting some of those moments and the travel and so forth.  Unless Ralph or Tony have anything else to say, if there is another story you wanted to talk about or talk about growing up together in Virginia.
TONY RANDOLPH:  As far as a player perspective from Chaminade, I can speak about the emotions and thoughts that we had as a team of going in before we played the University of Virginia on that day.  We got to our so‑called locker room, which wasn't much of a locker room because we had little resources at the time.
But we made the most of it.  When it came down to game time, Coach called Brother Westbrook, he was a brother on the campus, and he was our bus driver.  We load up in this bus that's probably about 20 years old, and we got down to Neal Blaisdell, and Neal Blaisdell for us was a huge arena, because we played home games on the campus of Chaminade and we shared it with the high school, St. Louis.  So when we got to Blaisdell, that was the big stage and big dance for us.
So when we got to Blaisdell, we saw all the media hype.  Everybody was towards the focus of the University of Virginia and the premier center of the country, Ralph Sampson.  So going in before the game, we were fortunate we had played LSU in the beginning in a tournament.  We did really well, but we lost.  And that kind of toughened us up and helped us believe that we could be competing against Division 1 players.
So the players that we h we all started to believe, and Coach Lopes told us to believe in ourselves and believe in one another, and not to believe the hype as we got into the locker room, coach gave us his talk, and we called the battle cry.  And we believed in ourselves that we were against the world.  When the game began, we just sort of blinked every emotion out and took our egos to another level as a team, as a family.  That is eventually what led to the courageousness of the men I played with to go against such a power house team in Virginia.  I guess we're very fortunate that luck was on our side.
RALPH SAMPSON:  Luck happened, but when you look back at 30 years of history, and coach alluded to this earlier there are certain times when I'm with the Phoenix Suns, I tell guys there are certain games that you play in that make you or break you or leave a legacy or history.  Coach comes over here to the islands, and you get it, what about that loss to Chaminade.  Okay, great.  A lot of stories come out of that.  You can build relationships, and it's ironic to have a guy that's still 20 miles from my hometown from their school and he was coming up as a young guy as well as my arch rival school.  You have to understand that Robert E. Lee with Mike Madden and those guys in those days we had six to 7000 people at a high school game and we had to play some of them on college campuses.
We tied one year with their crew with the University of Virginia.  We were both tied.  We had to play 10,000 people there at that game.  The history goes way, way back.  When you look at that and you build a relationship over a 30‑year period of time, and you can have now a NorthCarolina, Illinois, Marquette, these schools come 30 years later and leave that legacy, it's pretty impressive as I look back.
I really didn't realize this ten years ago when Coach Odom and I talk about the history of this tournament and basketball, and his insight on some things and things that I didn't recognize at that point in time playing because they had a great, great coaching staff and then come over here and lose a game.  Which one thing I don't like to do is lose at anything.
So if a loss leads to this event and it's 30 years later, that's pretty impressive.  To build a relationship with Coach Lopes, even from that game until the Pete Newell days of my NBA career coming into the Pete Newell camp here in Hawaii or in the L.A. area of we've been building that relationship for years and understanding that relationship as well.  So Tony says, well, it was meant to be, it happened, and after that it was pretty impressive.
So when you look back, and I look back at it, you think that that game in itself and what it has done for college basketball and throughout the islands and throughout the world, it means a lot to me to be a part of it, and I'm always glad to come back.
DAVE ODOM:  I'm sitting here and I look at Brother Bernie, President of Chaminade right now.  I look at Eric back there, the coach at Chaminade, had a record at Chaminade, and on behalf of the University of Virginia, you look at the two guys that participated in that game, Tony Randolph and Ralph Sampson.  They are exemplary people.  They're exemplary men.  At the time, grown men, adult men today, and you look at what they've done with their lives.  And in Tony's case, Chaminade had a tremendous effect on who he is today.
I know Tony gives Chaminade a lot of credit for that.  Brother Bernie and the Chaminade people all must be very, very proud of him, and I know he stayed involved with Chaminade, and I know Coach Lopes is really proud of what Tony has become as a man today and what he's doing with his life.
Equally so the University of Virginia is very, very proud of who Ralph Sampson has become, the way he's lived his life and what he's done.  So moments like that help seed lives and people's futures.  So it was a great moment.
I just wanted to mention that because they're not the only two.  Both teams are full of Tony Randolphs and Ralph Sampsons.  Maybe not as good of players, but every good as people.  But they've gone on to live their lives as well.  That's what college is all about.  And from our standpoint, we appreciate that, right?
THE MODERATOR:  Well said, Coach.  Merv, do you have any final comments?
MERV LOPES:  I agree with Dave about the players and what they've become after they go through with their career in college.  We hope that all of them can end up like Ralph and Tony, but it hasn't happened that way.  We've had a couple guys in our program that have had some bad luck.  So our prayers go with them.  But I think it's so funny.  It takes just one thing in your life to kind of make it go bad or it happens better as you go along.
The event between Chaminade and Virginia has changed my life.  I know that.  I would say the most important part of it all is what has led up to this game.  Mike, Tony, and all the guys that were involved in this game are the ones that kind of changed everything.
We played Ralph and them‑‑ that was our third meeting.  The first two years Ralph was a freshman and a sophomore, I think.  Then we didn't play Virginia when he was a junior, and we played them again when he was a senior.
But at that time we had a tremendous mixture of players in our program.  Our program was not a program.  We were a makeshift bunch of guys.  To do what we did that night, I must give all those guys credit to do what we did.  Not knowing that‑‑ well, to me, I don't want to win.  That's not my focus on winning.  My focus is to do the best we can for every moment we're out there and let the winning and all that other stuff handle itself as we go along.
So just the big win and all that, it was another win for me, and I'm coming from a little island, so I'm not into all this hype and media and all that.  So I really don't understand how big it was.
Right now, you can see that event led up to this press conference, and everybody is involved.  It's been 30 years later, wow.
So I must say, I've had a tremendous journey.  I do not have a destination.  I just go from point A to wherever I'm going.  I've been everywhere in this world from a little town in Honolulu called Nanakuli which is a Hawaiian Homestead land, like a reservation, but it's Hawaiians.  I've been to the Middle East.  I've been to Germany.  I've been to China.  I've been to Japan, and not had one thought that's what I wanted to do in my life.  I just did it.  That's why I kind of like the saying just do it.  I think Tony and the rest of the guys that evening, they just did it and not worry about if they're going to win or lose.
I know they want to win, but that's a long shot (laughing).  We're playing the best team and the best players.  Come on, man, you know?  So it's a different perspective for me.  I'm kind of a here‑and‑now guy, not yesterday‑and‑tomorrow.  So this time I have right now here is the most important time of my life right now because that's all I've got.  I don't know about tomorrow.  Yesterday is gone.  So that's how I try to live my life.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Merv, and thank you very much to our participants in the press conference today.
Ralph and Tony will be around the whole day today.  They'll be watching and enjoying the games and the start of the tournament.  They were very gracious yesterday and filmed some fun and interesting bits with ESPN.  So you'll get to see those on the broadcast.  Of course, Coach Odom will be here throughout the week, and Merv and Mike as well.  So thank you all very much for joining us today.  Media, if you have any additional questions throughout the day, you can see myself or Simon over here, and we'll get you guys connected with participants here today.  Again, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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