The Baltimore hoops pipeline from Boston to Garyland

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Author Clayton Trutor tells shares some decades-old Gary Williams and Baltimore hoops pipeline tales from his new “Boston Ball” book of Beantown college basketball coaching history and how it shaped the sport on the hardwood.


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Clayton Trutor, Nestor Aparicio

Nestor Aparicio  00:00

Hey, welcome home we are wn st Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive you’re taking the Maryland crab cake tour on the road throughout the holiday season. Crab cakes for Christmas crabs for Christmas. It’s all brought to you by the Maryland lottery got these ravens scratch offs to give away I’m gonna have to set the tickets to give away a little later on our friends at window nation, 866 90 nation and Jiffy Lube, multi care. You can find out all the crabcake tour dates out there. Coco’s faintly State Fair curio and foreign daughter wise markets. We’re doing it all during the month of December, but it’s basketball season right, chirps got off to sort of lousy start here to get things going. And I even look up the wizards record and it’s abysmal at this point. So, you know, we don’t get to talk as much basketball here and I’m old school. You know, when a Mugsy comes on, I’m ready for it when Keith Bucha. I’m ready for it. And he the old Maryland guys, I’m ready for it. But this is a book about a Boston basketball background. It’s not lost on me that Gary Williams spent some time in Boston spent some time out in Ohio. But he does feel like ours. I mean, went to college here the whole deal to name on the floor and all that. So when it came across my desk that Clayton shrewder had written a book called Boston ball that features a very young and handsome Gary Williams on the cover, as well as Jim Calhoun, and Rick Pitino. The Forgotten cradle of basketball coaches in Boston. First things first, I love having PhDs on you know, anybody who’s a doctor other than Dr. Pepper. Dr. Jay, I like having those folks on Clayton shrewder is an author and a PhD as well, teaching people things, but certainly teach a little history of Boston basketball and very, very interesting that a Baltimorean in in Reggie Lewis, his back is on the front of the cover as well. So there’s a whole Baltimore thing happening here. I think it was Len bias his birthday the other day, so I always have this Maryland thing happening here. Play congratulations on getting another book done. I know you’re one of those struggling Doctor author types here. But when I saw the Gary Williams connection, I thought, You know what, I’m gonna learn something here. So welcome. Welcome on a pleasure to have you on the program, man.

Clayton Trutor  02:13

Oh, thanks so much for having me on. It’s a pleasure. Well,

Nestor Aparicio  02:17

you write a book on this Boston background, and I see these legendary guys and thinking, oh, yeah, they were all there together. And, you know, I’ve been doing this for 32 years here. And we had various young guns here at different times. You know, Dino, Gaudio was at Loyola at one point. You know, we had several of the Loyola coaches here went on to greater thanks, skip Prosser, some other folks that coached here locally. We’ve had these miraculous Cinderella March Madness stories with Kopan. And Fang Mitchell, of course couple years ago with UMBC, with the son of a coach, an ACC coach as well. But we love our basketball ranters a great tradition. And then it was saying I’ll think of Boston basketball as having tradition. But I mean, first thing I thought was Reggie Lewis going up to Northeastern, and there has been a little bit of a Boston Baltimore thing, but tell me about your book. Because I mean, you’re really going back a couple, three, four decades here, and finding sort of a piece of Boston basketball history. That translates not just here, but Connecticut and everywhere. Rick Pitino has been Yeah,

Clayton Trutor  03:21

I mean, the book started I was in graduate school in Boston at the time, I got my PhD at Boston College, and I’m a basketball junkie. So I would regularly go to all the college games in the area. And it occurred to me that three different Hall of Fame career started roughly at the same time in Boston, you have Jim Calhoun at Northeastern Rick Pitino at Boston University, and Gary Williams at Boston College, all in very early chapters in their careers. And I got each guy’s autobiography to read them. And it struck me as really surprising that none of them spent much time talking about this era. Gary Williams spends four pages on his four seasons of BC. Rick Pitino spends three pages on his five years at Boston University in Jim Calhoun, who spent his first 14 seasons at Northeastern spends a chapter in a couple of pages on that. So it struck me as something that deserves some scrutiny and somebody to actually write about it. Because all these things were happening simultaneously. And these guys went on to such remarkable careers.

Nestor Aparicio  04:12

I find that when anybody’s writing a book about something relatively esoteric, it’s because there’s something missing and something that they got to get out in that. I mean, I thought the shining portrayed very well with Jack Torrance, you know, all work and no play and she, you know, like, I’ve written four books, and I’m a very type a gregarious, outgoing. I’m not an introvert at all. It’s a very introverted process. To begin this. I would think the first thing when you would say for any of these guys is if I sat and had beer with Gary Williams, or two or three and talked about that era, he probably would have a lot to say about a kid he recruited a kid he lost, how it helped him get the next gig what he learned in American before he got there. The money floating around back then the cocaine floating around back then the problems with the kids floating You’re gonna though the wild wild west that it was at that particular point for sure. And, and I guess for how many sort of legendary players basketball was built in that era. I did. I had a two weeks ago, I had a lesbian talking about the magic book, same era, say late 70s, early 80s. Were kind of the NBA in March Madness, as we know, it really gotten reconstructed by magic and Larry Bird, right? Absolutely.

Clayton Trutor  05:28

I mean, this is college basketball is in such transition this period, you go from having a 25 team tournament in the mid 70s, to having 64 teams starting in 1985. Really, still still the core of what exists now you’re the three pointer coming in during this era, you have a shot clock, so the makings of modern college basketball are all taking place in conference play,

Nestor Aparicio  05:47

like in a big like Big East became like this thing. And conferences weren’t necessarily that way when it was John Wooden taken on Houston at the Astrodome, right?

Clayton Trutor  05:56

Certainly, yeah. And particularly in the east, you had this big a amorphous thing called the ECAC, which was sort of a conference and really almost more like, almost like an organization of all the colleges in the area. When the Big East breaks away. All hell really breaks loose. Everybody’s looking for a conference BC where Gary Williams is only gets into the Big East, because Holy Cross had historically been a power turn them down. They felt that wasn’t in the mission of the institution. They wanted to remain an academic school. BC was happy to jump at it. They wanted a team in the Boston market because of the Boston Garden being there. That was one of Dave Gavitt with a big, big ideas. He wanted to have access to all the big arenas Madison Square Garden with, with with St. John’s in Philadelphia with the Pulitzer in the spectrum hat with Villanova having access to it, having teams in all the big cities Georgetown at the Capitol center capitol. Absolutely. Yeah. Georgia, the Capitol center. Certainly. Yeah. So that’s, that’s an important part of the story to Northeastern and bu where Calhoun and patina are coaching, are also trying to figure things out. There’s this kind of marriage of convenience called the ECAC north, which has like the northern New England state universities, the Boston area schools, and then a couple of buffalo schools get crammed together at one conference. And that that’s who’s fighting it out during the during the context of that book, this book, that leak barely even exists anymore. It’s called the America East. UMBC is one of the good teams in Vermont, but it has almost

Nestor Aparicio  07:16

always taught me kaneesha still make fun of my buffalo people. Yeah. Oh,

Clayton Trutor  07:20

can you just denied replay play a prominent role in the book? Yeah, they kind of got screwed over by St. Bonaventure, who left to join the Eastern aid. That became the Atlantic 10. So they were hustling for a conference?

Nestor Aparicio  07:30

Yeah, I mean, it still is wild, wild west, but in a different way. And I say it out loud all the time. Like, they’ve lost me, you know, like this, paying players paying some of them and the boys and girls in the Title Nine, we have money here, we don’t have money there. We’re gonna close this program. We’re gonna we’re gonna go all in and give a whole bunch of money to a kid and have in common. And what Miami’s basketball.

Clayton Trutor  07:54

I’m not they look, there was always illicit stuff going on. But it’s much harder to like, sort of cut through this and get back to where you were 40 years ago, which is, this is the way it was. But the way it was just the way it was for a long, long time. You know, what I mean? is the one thing we left out and all of this in the early 80s, that really made all three of these guys in the end was television, right? Television. Yes, that didn’t exist in 1973. When it was Maryland getting bounced out by NC State didn’t exist in the same way as it did in 1983. When valve anos run, I mean, just a sea of change for those of us that witnessed it that that were alive during that period, because the Big East of the ACC did great on ESPN in the early years of it, those guys were getting seen all over the country to win it never existed before you took it was very much a regional sport and made it a genuinely national one. I think that played a big role in making March March Madness possible, talking about all the issues with college basketball. Now, for me as a fan, I find the transfer portal the most confusing part of it. You never know who’s going to be on what team? I think one of the great things of that television era was Patrick, you and Chris Mullen, those guys seemed like they were in college for 9000 years. I mean, if you’re if you’re a kid in the early 80s, they’re on those teams as long as the guys in the Lakers and Celtics had been on their teams. So you had a genuine connection watching those guys year in and year out. That’s very tough. Now, even if a guy is great for one year, it’s a very different relationship you have as a fan to them than seeing them progress over the course of four seasons. I think it changes your relationship to the university a little bit too. I told a story a couple of weeks ago, I had my old science teacher George Shulin on and Luke, my partner was on here. And Luke was born in 83. So I’m trying to like help him out a little bit cuz sometimes he feels like an old fart. And then sometimes I want to Bourbon. And I remember my teacher the late great day fantaisie, who we honored was my science teacher in seventh grade 1979. And I remember coming in his class and on his desk, and this is a plug for our Toyota dealers that have supported our show for 25 years here. They’re still a great website sponsor and J Piwik. And everybody out there for Toyota, but in 1970 like Toyota was going all in on ACC basketball, they were a sponsor, and they

Nestor Aparicio  10:00

had a literal book that you would know as a sporting news or in our labs or an Athlon a nice chunky, you know, 98 page magazine dedicated to the ACC, and it had eight pages on Maryland, eight pages on state eight pages on Virginia. There’s Jeff Lampe, and Lee raker. And errs, you know, Buck Williams. And yeah, I go through all of it right in that era. And it was just, it was different. That’s what I was raised on. And since then, it’s never been as good in any way. But these coaches made hay right and, and they were at the smaller schools. When I mentioned Loyola here, Carpenter, UMBC, Towson with back in the day, Terry Truax, one of my favorite humans ever in any walk of life, the late great Derek Truax, took me under his wing at Towson and trying to bring players in and compete. You talk about those little divisions and the ECC and the Big South and these other things that these teams were trying to get in. I would think that young version of Gary Williams, you played at Maryland, or Jim Calhoun, even Pitino, who always had seen that big stars in his eyes that they looked at at that time, if you go back to that. It was like white shadow dude was just basketball, it was kids, and basketball and winning, and trying to keep these kids on the right side of the track trying to get on the class because that was important in a lot of places. Maybe not so much for an NC State, but other places. It was important. But for the small schools, it was love of basketball, right? I mean, this is where they they grew their wings to be what they became all three of these guys. And fighting around Boston for a bunch of kids to play ball probably was not just cutthroat but you weren’t getting the same players that John Wooden was getting.

Clayton Trutor  11:49

No certainly not. That’s a big store big aspect of this book that they had to find a different recruiting pipelines. It was in terms of getting guys like Reggie Lewis Baltimore became a pipeline for Northeastern because they had some alums who ended up down there and ended up encouraging them to recruit players there. Pittsburgh was a big pipeline for them. BC grip got a ton of guys out of Connecticut before Calhoun gets there. And UConn. I mean, they recruited four years in a row recruited a guy who ended up in the NBA each year with the likes of John Bagley and Michael Adams, but very good NBA careers right

Nestor Aparicio  12:18

Michael Adams. I saw him shooting for the Bay State bombardiers and a CBA. Come on now

Clayton Trutor  12:24

that he’s away with the Washington Bullets for a while. Yeah, he was a fine. He was a fine player. And in terms of be PITINO was a five star camp guy and was able to get a lot of guys through that pipeline as well. So the Boston area wasn’t necessarily the richest area for players, although you certainly had Patrick Ewing coming out of there in that era, who ended up at Georgetown. There’s also the issue these schools it’s a very big men dominated college game by the late 70s. They weren’t able to recruit the big men that the top programs were. So they ended up playing a very different style of basketball with a lot of fast breaking, and press passing, pressing and trapping. And I think that’s a big aspect of the book too, that stylistically, you start to see the kind of small ball that existed in the late late 20th, early 21st century in these programs in Boston, with relatively few people watching them it was a nice laboratory for all of these coaches to try things out that they ended up making use of in their later stops.

Nestor Aparicio  13:13

Well these three coaches in PITINO Calhoun and Carrie Williams for anybody joining us by the way, the book is out is called Boston ball I’m gonna pull it up off my my Twitter page here and show everybody cuz I don’t have the book in my hands. But there’s a very, very young, sexy Gary Williams there’s a PITINO getting lifted to the rafters by his group and there’s like no fans and a little gem that looks like you know, I don’t know, sort of the slapshot minor league hockey Jim. And there’s Jim Calhoun down at the bottom. The offers Clayton Trudeau he is our guest we are he’s gonna give you a code, do all the stuff you can get the book and but the Gary Williams side of this, you said Michael Adams, I don’t have the book The finger through it. I forgotten that Michael Adams played for him there. Right. And then he goes to Ohio State. He had Jackson yet some players there. But you know, people will think about Gary’s life before Maryland because like, that’s all there was. As far as people here. They just don’t think about it. But Michael Adams played for him there, didn’t he? Yeah, yeah.

Clayton Trutor  14:12

He went to a pair of sweet sixteens when he’s at Boston College in three of the four years that when he was coaching at BC, they were picked seventh, eighth or ninth in the Big East. They always finished above expectations throughout that era, because they didn’t have the top popular recruits. They were always expected to be a much weaker team than they were. They came out and they could play with anybody in the conference. They just wore people out playing so quickly, playing so aggressively on offense and defense and Michael Adams was really the Field Marshal on the floor and probably the most significant player for them in that era. He was the he only received one division one offer. He was a kid out of Hartford, Connecticut. He’d been a gold gloves boxer, and I got him Kevin Mackey, who is who later led Cleveland State to that big upset of Indiana and the

Nestor Aparicio  14:54

MACKAY Yeah, there’s a name and

Clayton Trutor  14:58

Mackey’s who for who who just covers Michael Adams brings them up to BC from day one. He’s their starting point guard and he’s really the field marshal the BC team in the early to mid 80s.

Nestor Aparicio  15:08

I’m gonna get a finished demo reference in here. We’re gonna do it all claim Cherner share the book is out. He’s smiling. He’s a basketball guy. I’m more of a basketball guy than I let on. I know more than I think I know. Maybe you’re selling Red Auerbach talking. Yeah, it’s so crazy. I get so for you with the book and the concept of putting the book together. Get go Mork and Mindy here and what have we learned here? What did you learn about it that made it compelling for you to go back into this and dig this up? Because the one thing I’ll say for all three of these guys, while he’s coach like I know Gary, Gary is crazy. I mean, I’ve known Gary 30 years I mean, these guys are intense, high energy all that stuff you talk about that chip on their shoulder always overlooked even when they’ve got castles and kings and driving Lamborghinis. They’re always be overlooked under appreciated, you know, carry the floor is named after but not the building because they wouldn’t they would never do that for me because I didn’t want to championship you know, because that’s why Gary is Gary to this day when you spend time with him. You don’t feel like he’s even accomplished because he’s always fighting. You know, and I guess that’s the street also for all these guys to take that sort of job that even though they made it in the end and they did well and Gary stayed along with it, callaloo and they didn’t really do anything else PITINO had all sorts of trails and trails as well. You know, through all of that, but I would say for them, that hustle that was in there that hustle that made Gary a you know, scrappy ballplayer was kind of what serve them and they’re kind of three peas in a pod to some degree to a built the college game the way they did very

Clayton Trutor  16:43

much. So they’re all incredibly competitive. Guys. One thing I didn’t talk to Pitino, but speaking with Calhoun and Gary Williams, the degree to which they remembered the particulars of their lot of the lives of players they had 40 years ago was remarkable. They both remembered what these guys majored in, they remembered certain like different aspects of their family and their personal lives and stuff. It really is striking how committed to the guys that played for them. So long ago, they remained in both the case of Calhoun and Williams, especially

Nestor Aparicio  17:09

when they coached so many kids. Yes, absolutely. Well, I mean, but that’s the nature of basketball, right? I mean, that’s the love them hate them about a Bobby Knight is that he was in on your kid. And it was just him and the kids and you know, there’s 12 Kids in the, on the floor, it was the white shadow, there’s nobody there, lights aren’t on. And it’s, we need to beat North Carolina, you know, and like, and this is how we’re going to do it. And I believe in all you and I brought all of you here and this is the role I have for you and on the mad scientist genius on X’s and O’s. And you know how we’re going to run a press and how we’re going to run a system. To your point you can’t do any of that when you got kids five minutes, and the player gives you the finger and says I’m transferred to West Virginia. I’m gonna go play for a different criminal.

Clayton Trutor  17:52

It was a very different time. Certainly. Yeah. And, and their relationships were very different with the coaches and players it seems like to Yeah, well,

Nestor Aparicio  17:59

I mean, that that would be my feeling for if you spent that much time it kind of reminds me of talking about my science teacher from 1979 My God, it’s, I remember everything about it, even though I can’t remember what I ate for dinner last night. Clay true to share, he writes books, you’ve written a couple of books why this? Well, what what about this dove that night that the light went on, we’re like, I’m gonna do this because I know you know, crazy doesn’t write about Well,

Clayton Trutor  18:21

I haven’t kind of slowly over time I was my first book was about Atlantis, pursuit of pro sports in the 60s. And then how it didn’t quite turn out as they expected. It’s called Loserville. It came out in 2022, after I’d finished that is right around when the pandemic and started the idea that these three coaches had been in Boston at the same time, it had been germinating in my head for several years. And the kind of locked down type period was a perfect time for this because everybody was at home and I started calling people. And I cranked out like 95 interviews and like three and a half months. And once you talk to one guy in these teams, they put you in touch with several other people. So it actually was a fairly easy book to write in the sense of just getting the material. I mean, I already could go get all the newspaper stuff, but just in terms of talking with people about their actual experiences moving beyond the box scores, I think I couldn’t have done it at a better time than when I didn’t 2020 and 2021. Well, the

Nestor Aparicio  19:10

book makes a perfect holiday gift for I give you a chance to pitch away. I’ll just say this when it came through the Gary Williams thing, but the Michael Adams thing and the Reggie Lewis thing and the Baltimore pipeline thing, but in the mid 80s here for basketball and your lefty and bias and Bob Wade and all of all the Georgetown with John Thompson and Wingate and and Mugsy go in the wake and Sam caselle winds up at Florida State was like all of that era of late the middle mid the late 80s and early 90s. And you can’t write the history college basketball without having a Baltimore connection.

Clayton Trutor  19:45

Right without question. Absolutely.

Nestor Aparicio  19:47

Give me a plug, man. Tell me tell me how to get the book. It’s digital too. Right? You can do this for kids.

Clayton Trutor  19:52

Yeah, you can. You can get it on Kindle and everything. Boston ball is available now from the University of Nebraska Press. You can save 40 sent off the cuff the cover price going to Bitly slash Boston ball bat period L y slash Boston ball. If you use promo code six af 23 You can save 40% off the cover price as Bitly slash Boston balls six af 23. You can also get it at Barnes and Noble and Amazon and all the other well known online book retailers but it’ll cost a little more. What years you

Nestor Aparicio  20:22

go to Boston College.

Clayton Trutor  20:24

I was in grad school there in the 2010s Oh, okay.


Nestor Aparicio  20:28

It’s Rome. You’re young. Okay. It’s real modern. I didn’t seem that old to me. I thought you died a young old soul. You’re in the Ph. D. department, but I didn’t know. I was gonna say Man, if you were like hanging out Boston College and like hanging out near Fenway Park and during that era, that wasn’t the greatest baseball you know, I mean, but when you were there you got decent baseball you know, there spent the money by the time you got to ball.

Clayton Trutor  20:50

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I was I was in the heart of Theo ball. Certainly. Well,

Nestor Aparicio  20:54

tough to be a basketball fan and a baseball fan at that time. But don’t tell Bob Ryan that because every time it goes on, he reinvents the history of basketball for me really appreciate having on your like a PhD. What do you do in the real world your teacher, right. I

Clayton Trutor  21:07

teach at Norwich University, which is a small college in Vermont and I freelance write for a lot of different publications and websites. What do you teach? I teach history. Modern modern US history.

Nestor Aparicio  21:19

Nice. How’s that going for you?

Clayton Trutor  21:21

It’s great. It’s a fine institution to teach at. It’s a military college. A lot of the battle people I work with are soldiers and training. I also teach graduate students online. So it’s a mix of those two.

Nestor Aparicio  21:31

I was just sort of making a tongue in cheek that like teaching modern, modern United States history which is sort of unfolding around us isn’t it every day.

Clayton Trutor  21:39

But I mean, like post 1945 Roughly so what I mean by that, oh

Nestor Aparicio  21:43

man kids today, you know, God bless you educators every one of you I’ve given great great thanks to everybody. I had my high school principal on last week the current high school principal, not my high school principal passed away last year at Dundalk high you can check all that out we were cost this when the Maryland crab cake tour. It’s all presented by our friends at the Maryland lottery conjunction with wind donation and Jiffy Lube MultiCare the book is out make sure you go find clay truth are out online that is TR U T. O R and Clayton first name Boston ball is the book Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, Gary Williams and the Forgotten cradle of basketball coaches featuring a Makita which looks like a movie star on that car. I can’t believe he was ever that handsome

Clayton Trutor  22:25

looks like oh yeah, it looks like Clark Gable or something. Looks like he should be sad sadness.

Nestor Aparicio  22:29

He’s got chiseled chin and all that stuff. I am Nestor. We are wn st am 1570 little football, a little bit of baseball certainly some stuff on the lease and even make some college basketball and some feel good about our 25th anniversary. Stay with us.

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