30 Yrs Ago: Doc Rivers buzzer shot beats ND

[I wrote this story in back in 2004 when MU retired Glenn 'Doc' Rivers jersey. Thanks to Puju for referring to it on our message board today. To set the scene, the date was Sunday Jan 10, 1981, I was as Jr at Marquette University working in Sports Information. My boss asked me to work for NBC that day to help the broadcaster who was working alone that game, a very young Bob Costas.]

On Saturday Night, Marquette is retiring the uniform [#31] of Glenn 'Doc' Rivers. As a student, I had the privilege of watching Glenn 'Doc' Rivers play for Marquette University from 1980 -83. Here are some of my favorite memories of Doc.

1] Jan 10, 1981: Freshman guard GLENN RIVERS sinks 45 Foot Bank Shot Against Notre Dame (MU 54-ND 52)- Notre Dame, 8-1, came into the game ranked #5 in the country and were heavy favorites to win with players such as John Paxon, Kelly Tripuka, Orlando Woolridge and Tracy Jackson. I was a junior at Marquette and worked in the Sports Information Department. That Sunday, I was the statistician for a young Bob Costas who was going solo on the NBC telecast. In their last home game, Marquette, 8-3, had played horribly in losing to South Mississippi at the Arena.

Against Notre Dame, MU stayed close because C Dean Marquardt played the game of his life. Marquardt was 6 for 6 from the field and several of his shots were fifteen footers. The Irish defense had sagged off Marquardt, so they could double up G Glenn Rivers and F Oliver Lee. When Marquardt hit his fifth straight shot, Irish coach Digger Phelps jumped up and looked at his assistant coaches on the bench and shouted, "Who the hell scouted this team? You said he couldn't shoot!"

With 3:29 left in the game, the Warriors' Lee hit a jump shot to tie the game at 52 and Notre Dame then went into a four-corner delay. The Warriors played a sagging man-to-man defense to prevent a lay-up. With four seconds left, the score was 52-52 and Glenn Rivers and his teammate Michael Wilson tied up Irish guard Tracy Jackson and a jump ball was called. Jackson won the tip and batted it over to teammate Orlando Woolridge but he tripped and the ball went out of bounds in front of the Notre Dame bench. Marquette called time-out. Phelps surveyed the court and looked up at the clock. He smiled at assistant coach Gary Brokaw and told his team, "No fouls, let's play for OT."

When the time-out was over, MU guards Michael Wilson and Rivers went to the backcourt. Marquardt, Lee and F Terrell Schlundt were positioned down near Marquette's basket. As Wilson tried to inbound at the FT in backcourt, he looked for Lee coming off of a Marquardt screen, but Lee and Schlundt were not open. Seeing that no options for Wilson and a five count was probable, Rivers, who was 15 feet in front of Wilson, near the Irish free-throw line, made a fake and then took off down toward the left sideline. Wilson saw him cut and threw a chest pass to him. Just over half court, Rivers caught the ball and in one motion he arched a one handed push shot toward the basket. The 30-foot shot banked in off the backboard.

Simultaneously, 11,052 fans jumped up. The student section ran out on the floor. During the ten-minute celebration, Wilson stood on the rim and sat on top of the backboard. He loosened his shoe and took off his lucky yellow sock and threw it down on the cheering crowd. Rivers said in a post-game interview that when he was younger he would go down to the playground and dream about beating Notre Dame with a last second shot. "When I saw it was going to hit the backboard, I knew it was going in," Rivers said.

[2011 update to the story] When Doc's shot went in, Costas jumped out of his seat and screams,'Woooooooooooooow!', and starts pounding me on the shoulders. I looked at Digger who could not believe it. He then smiled and walked over to shake hands with Hank.The MU team was at half court jumping on Doc and Hank ran over to be with them. Costas told me.'Go Get Hank...Go get Hank' and do it quickly as NBC was about to sign off...thousands of fans were streaming on the court. So I jumped over the table [I had young legs back then]and ran out to Hank. With the roar and with Hank's poor hearing...I had trouble communicating with him. Hank kept slapping me on the hand and hugging me. He did not realize that I was working with NBC that day. Finally I grabbed him and pointed to Costas on the headset who was standing and waving at Hank so Hank comes over and Costas gives him my headset and he interviews Hank for 15 sec before signing off. Tears were flowing down Hank's cheeks.

In 1996, Costas hosted a Wisconsin Athletic HOF dinner...and I asked him about that game ...he did not remember me other than to say...'I remember telling the student stat guy to go onto the court and get Hank...and Hank was crying. I was newly married in '81 and my wife was picking me up at the STL airport...my ticket was for 4:35pm out of Milw...I concluded my interview with Hank and it was 4:20pm....a car was waiting for me outside the Arena...and they drove me to your airport..and I got on the plane at 4:33 as they were closing the doors...I remember thinking what a convenient city MIlw was...I got to the airport from downtown in 13 min...and met my wife that night.']

2] Feb 12, 1983- Doc takes a lob pass by Terrell Schlundt [thrown behind him] and reaches back...catches with his right hand ...and slams it home vs. Louisville...at Arena

3] Dec 17, 1980: Doc leads a 2nd half blitz up at Minn when Hank goes to 3 guards [Wilson/Rivers/Green] and MU goes from 16 down at halftime to 18 up by the 10 min mark in second half...before winning 92-84.

4] Feb 6, 1982- Doc breaks MU record with 16 assists vs. DePaul...record stood for 13 yrs until it was broken by Tony Miller [17] on Sr Night in '95 vs. Memphis

5] Jan 30, 1982- One yr after his last second shot vs. ND, MU goes down to South Bend and each time Doc touches the ball the student section begins screaming...Doc fights back by calling Michael Wilson up to the half court and plays hot potato with basketball as ND students yell...go quiet...yell...go quiet and then stop it altogether...MU shoots 20-24 in first half [misses its first 3 shots...hits 20 consecutive FGs and then misses last shot of first half...for an all-time record shooting percentage of .833 for one half.

6] His size 15 EEEE feet ...MU goes to New Balance shoes, the first company to make wide sizes.... the shoes reminded people of the tiger paw ads for Michelin Tires...a whole lot of tread baby!

7] Doc was always friendly and approachable on campus...a popular sports figure.

8]Why he turned pro- Doc hurt his back several times in college and he worried about his pro career. There were some health concerns with some family members so Doc went hardship after his Jr. yr...Becoming a 2nd round pick…

9]Bucks guard Sidney Moncrief said that Doc's right hand dribble drive in the open court was one of the best moves in the NBA. Doc worked hard to improve his game I the pros.. Doc's FT % in the NBA was over 80% after having struggled in college…

Marquette Hoops Top Stories