As a former Brown basketball player and team captain (1978–79), I found it a real pleasure to read your article on the 1981–82 season and Coach Mike Cingiser ’62 (“The Sweetest Moment,” March/April). Unfortunately, the article’s reference to the team’s 1975–79 record (25–79) reminded me that I was the only player at Brown to play all four of those seasons. Well, sort of—back in those days freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity ball so I experienced 1975–76 from the sidelines.
I must agree with author Joe Dobrow ’85 that the1977–78 season (4–22) had to be the lowest point in Brown basketball history. The article described the way players learned of Coach Joe Mullaney’s departure on the news. Ironically, that was practically the same way we’d found out he was coming and that Coach Gerry Alaimo was leaving after that season.
Entering the 1978–79 season we had little reason for optimism. We started slow, then beat Fordham and Yale, lost by eight to No. 8–ranked Marquette, beat Providence for the first time since ’59, lost to No. 1–ranked Notre Dame, and beat Columbia and Cornell. So we stood with a 3–0 Ivy record plus a win over PC entering our Penn/Princeton weekend. We lost to Penn but beat Princeton. It was the best month of basketball I ever experienced at Brown. It was our sweetest month. We finished the season with a 6–8 Ivy record, but we were no longer a pushover.
I will always fondly remember the members of that 1978–79 team: Ray Lambert ’80, Chuck Mack ’80, Jim Sweetser ’80, Rich Friedman ’79, Scott McCarthy ’81, Peter Moss ’80, Paul Cameron ’81, Mike Wilson ’81, Ronnie Henighan ’80, Tom Robinson ’81, Tim Ziko ’83, Bob Stanley ’81, Bill Chinetti ’81, and Sam Kroll ’81.
Andy Dolan ’79
In 1960, I was stationed briefly at Fort Dix during basketball season, and one January night I managed, still in uniform, to slip up in time for the tip-off at nearby Princeton. Stan Ward, a remarkable, wonderful guy, was the coach. Mike Cingiser ’62 was playing, and I grabbed a seat behind the Brown bench.
From the tip-off, the juiced-up crowd of Princeton students behind me was all over Mike. The game did not go well and Mike was getting hot.
Then it all happened. Brown had a black player, the only black player, and the group behind me tired of working on Mike. Plainly, these fellows from Princeton included a serious core of Southerners, and this was 1960. Things grew nasty, and during a time-out Stan challenged the group to “shut your mouths, you gutless bastards.” That lit the fuse. The group began moving toward the bench, calling out epithets. Mike waded into the crowd and Stan was behind him, trying to keep Mike in the game. I became the first U.N. peacemaker (with just about that much success) and figured before this was over a court martial would be in the offing.
The fact that I was in uniform caused the students to hesitate for a moment, giving Stan and me the opening we needed. Somehow we pulled Mike back on the floor, still screaming and itching to get at the crowd (he could fight, believe me, but as a former football player and wrestler I lent some modest skill at separation). Although the abuse never let up, the refs and some Princeton officials helped clear a nonviolent zone near the bench, where I sat alone.
For years I kept up a friendship with Mike. He lives in South Carolina, where my wife and I have a second house. Periodically, people will tell me they met him. I tell them they should understand they have commerced with a unique and marvelous guy.
Hats off to you for a sterling piece that brought back warm nostalgia.
Marvin L. Wilenzik ’56
According to the editor’s note in the January/February issue, the “Sweetest Moment” story would appeal to people “even if you care nothing about sports in general or basketball in specific,” because it “transcends the sports genre.”
Well, since I’m one of those people who care nothing about sports in general and basketball in specific, I usually skip the sports articles, but, heck, based on the glowing review, I thought I’d give it a try. And, guess what? It was a typical example of genre sportswriting. Boring. I suppose you had to be there.
By the way, great article about Professor Hamburg and energy-efficient lighting at Wal-Mart (“Attention, Wal-Mart Shoppers” March/April).
Geoffrey A. Landis ’88
I enjoyed Joe Dobrow’s article about the 1982 Brown men’s basketball team. The author’s ID notes that “he claims to be one of four basketball fans to storm the court at Dartmouth when Brown clinched its 1986 title.” For the record, Joe Kishkill ’86 and I also made the road trip. As I remember it, we didn’t storm the court but instead waited anxiously for the results of another Ivy game (Cornell vs. Penn?), giving us sole possession of the Ivy crown. Brown then was seeded sixteenth in the NCAA tournament and drew first-seeded Syracuse. The game was played at Syracuse and we lost by about fifty points. But Big Jim Turner and the gang sure were great that year.
Concerning your article on the Ratty (“Pass the Gnocchi,” September/October 2006), for me what stands out most about four years of dining at the Ratty was an inexplicable run of chicken cutlets in our senior year. It got so preposterous it prompted Mark Peters ’87, then editorial-page editor of the Brown Daily Herald, to run the memorably titled editorial “Cut the Cutlet.”
Jonathan Scherl ’87
While I’m flattered that my picture is included in the BAM on page 32 of the March/April issue, I’m sorry to say you have me with the wrong team. On the opening page of “The Sweetest Moment,” I’m number thirty and am caught in the act of passing the basketball. I graduated in 1975 and was, arguably, part of one of the most successful classes in Brown basketball history.
Phil Brown ’75