FanPost

Goodfellas in college basketball

Bumped. Very interesting story. GO BRUINS. -N

I was looking through some old Bruin basketball tickets in a scrapbook, and I found a ticket for the basketball game between UCLA and Boston College on December 23, 1978. Besides the cost (student tickets were 50 cents that year) the notable thing about that ticket was that it was the only game I ever went to that was fixed. (allegedly)

Going into the game the Bruins were 5-1, although they had already beaten a very good DePaul team, and their only loss was to Notre Dame team that was coming off a final four appearance the year before. Boston College was 7-1 but their schedule included such stellar teams at Stonehill, LeMoyne and Bentley (the Rolls Royce of College basketball programs).

For Bruin fans the game against BC went about as expected. The Bruins, who were favored by 15 points, won easily 103-81.  Brad Holland (of Crescenta Valley) hit on 10-12 shots for a career high of 25 points. (Imagine how many points he would have scored if those shots from the baseline that he used to hit with regularity in 78-79 would have been three point shots back then). Roy Hamilton had 20 points and 13 assists leading the fast break. Dr. Tom Davis in his second year at BC attempted to press the Bruins, but that strategy proved ineffective against the Bruins fast break led by Holland and Hamilton. David Greenwood also chipped in with 18 points with 13 rebounds.  In the first half Greenwood had five blocks on the occasions when the Eagles dared to go into the paint. Kiki Vandeweghe (not a bad sixth man to come off the bench) also added 13 points.

The one thing I remember about Boston College was the play of Ernie Cobb. He was positively manic during the game, scoring 20 points (one below his average for the season), and diving for every loose ball as if it were the final seconds of a final four game. Jim Sweeney, the team’s assist leader (and an academic All-American as well as a Rhodes Scholar candidate) was in his third year as captain of the team, but made only 1-3 shots in scoring four points. Sweeney had only 4 assists before fouling out. Rick Kuhn a reserve forward was 3-7 from the field with seven rebounds and 4 fouls.

After the game Tom Davis commented about the play of his team (after indicating that “UCLA was incredible”) in the Los Angeles Times that “I thought we worked as hard as we could. I was happy with our effort but obviously it wasn’t enough.” Later it came out that two of the BC players (Kuhn and Sweeney) were not in fact “working as hard as they could “

Two years after the game, one of the individuals who helped arrange the financing for the scheme (Henry Hill who was portrayed by Ray Liotta in Goodfellas) wrote an article in Sports Illustrated about how he helped arrange point shaving for nine BC games that year, including the one against the Bruins in 1978. The scheme originally involved only Kuhn and Sweeney from BC, and worked during the first two games against Harvard and UCLA. However, BC beat the spread in games against Rhode Island and Holy Cross, and the Sports Illustrated article indicated that the perpetrators felt they needed to get Ernie Cobb (who played so hard against the Bruins) involved in the scheme. Thereafter BC lost against the spread in the next five games where the point shaving was alleged to have occurred making a lot of money for the conspirators before they shut the operation down. BC went 17-4 in the games where there was no point shaving involved, and ultimately finished 21-9 on the year.

It appeared that the perpetrators had gotten away with the plan, but a couple of years later, one of the conspirators (Hill) was arrested on unrelated charges, and told prosecutors and Sports Illustrated about the scheme. After the Sports Illustrated article, and the issuance of the indictments, Kuhn was convicted and was sentenced to 28 months in prison.  Sweeney who testified on behalf of the prosecution was not charged, and Cobb was acquitted. Cobb, although acquitted, never got a chance to play on an NBA team.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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