Vanderbilt-UNO prediction/ Monte Towe Story

Howell Peiser gives a prediction for tonight's game with the University of New Orleans and shares an amusing story about UNO's Coach Monte Towe.

Vanderbilt vs. New Orleans


This may be the softest patsy on the schedule.  UNO has yet to win a game against a Division 1 opponent, and they recently lost to LSU by 41 points.   Most of the computer rankings place them at #300 or worse.  Vanderbilt can name the score if they play just ordinary ball Tuesday night.


For this game, I am using 11 different computer rankings, 10 of them available free to the public.   I have weighted these rankings with two of them counting for 20% each and six counting for only 4% each. 


The average of these weighted computer spreads shows:  Vanderbilt to win by 29 points.


Based on my thoughts about what a 29-point spread should look like, my prediction is: Vanderbilt 81 New Orleans 52.


One rating actually calls for Vandy to win by 50 points.



My 1983 Encounter With Monte Towe At Memorial Gym


Current New Orleans head coach Monte Towe may have been the greatest modern day collegiate basketball player under 5-08.   He led the 1973 and 1974 North Carolina State basketball team to one undefeated season and a national title.  His excellent play led the Wolfpack in their title win over Marquette, leaving Warriors coach Al McGuire shaking his head time and time again.


After a two-year stint with the Denver Nuggets, Towe returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach and followed Sloan when he returned to Florida for a second go around.  The first few years in Gainesville were trying, as the Gators maintained a reserve seat in the conference basement.  In 1981-82, Florida couldn't catch a break.  En route to a dismal 5-22 season, The Gators lost several games they let slip away.  Sloan, always with a quick temper, was as volatile as a bottle of nitroglycerin by the time he brought his Gators to Nashville to play Vanderbilt. 


This was year one in Nashville for coach C.M. Newton.  He inherited some decent but not outstanding talent.   Through 16 games, the Commodores were 10-6, 3-5 in the league.  Florida came to town and outplayed Vanderbilt for 36 minutes.   The Commodores came from behind to take the lead late, but Florida appeared to be rallying.  A couple of close calls on out of bounds plays in front of the Gator bench all went in favor of Vanderbilt, and it allowed the Commodores to hang on to a narrow lead at the end, winning 51-48.


As the final buzzer sounded, Sloan acted like a hungry caged lion when the door popped open revealing some vulnerable zebras just ahead.   He sprinted toward the referees, looking faster than any of his players that night.  The zebras were quickly escorted off the floor through the doors and toward their locker room with Sloan yelling at them the entire way.


I was a young sports reporter at WLAC-AM in 1982.  I was on the air early on the weekends (starting before the sun came up) broadcasting mostly to people coming home late from an eventful evening.   I also covered all Vanderbilt basketball games for the station.  Frequently, the reporters responsible for post-game interviews made the long trek downstairs from the old press box to the locker room.   Back in those days, the visiting team and most of the reporters made their way to the locker room via the opening that was near the visitors' bench.  


That night, I made it to the opening to the locker room with about 30 seconds to go until the game ended and watched the closing seconds through the opening all the while striking up a conversation with one of the Vanderbilt police officers responsible for protecting the referees once the game ended as they jogged to the officials' locker.


After the game ended, and Coach Sloan went berserk, Assistant Coach Towe took off through the other end (Vandy's end) door to the dressing room.   He passed the Vandy coaches, raced down the steps,  and circled around at break neck speed arriving at the officials' dressing room just a few seconds before the refs themselves.   As the refs made their way toward their dressing room, Towe appeared almost like Jack Ruby confronting Lee Harvey Oswald on that fateful morning in the basement of the Dallas jail.  


What made this situation more tense was that the Vanderbilt officers did not recognize Towe as one of the coaches.   As a player at N.C. St., Towe was listed in the program at 5-07 and 150 pounds.  I was 5-07 and 150 pounds in 1982, and Towe was a good inch or two shorter than me and at least 10 pounds heavier.   Nobody would have mistaken him for a college basketball coach.  The officers assumed he was some nut and threw him against the old cage that used to be down there.   They were about to arrest him and take him off when I informed them he was one of the Florida coaches.  By then, Coach Sloan had appeared to see what was going on.   He wasn't in the mood for any more trouble, and the police had to shoo the two coaches off to their dressing room. 

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