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OT: Bodacious Bears: Documentary on Jerry Welsh and the Potsdam Bears


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Having gone to UA in the mid-90s my allegiance obviously changed - but growing up in Potsdam in the early 80's, the Bears were a force that will probably never be replicated by a SUNY School. While it was D3, the dynasty they put together from 1978-1987 was one of the greatest runs in College Basketball History... including a Hooleyesque buzzer beater in the national championship game to force overtime, and an eventual win. Had the 3 point line been in play at that time it would have been a game winner. 

An upstate NY film maker made a documentary about that run and Jerry Welsh's coaching career and the effect he had on Upstate NY basketball. It features Jim Boeheim, Rick Carlisle, Hal Cohen, John Beilein, Coach K from Duke, among many others, including former Bears players. Including one that went to the NBA. The first Potsdam D3 national championship was the first basketball game broadcast on ESPN. That was a golden era for basketball at a SUNY School... I mean a D3 player making the NBA? It was kind of a tribute to Welsh, and what appears to be a sales piece for him getting into Springfield.

Anyway, I watched the documentary on YouTube last night and thought I would share it with you all, as it is a pretty good watch.

it starts real slow, spends way too much time on local section X sports and the towns up there, but the basketball stuff in is just amazing. Most people could skip the first hour or more lol. If you look closely you might be able to spot a high school aged godanesgo99 in the background during one of the videos of the Bears basketball camp circa 1990. LOL.

 

 

Edit sorry for posting the video twice. It won't let me delete the second one. I wanted the link text in addition to the embedded video.

Edited by godanesgo99
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Still blows my mind that a SUNY School won multiple basketball national championships, played in the national championship game multiple times, and had a run they did. They lost in the National championship game, trying to get their second, but then went on to win 60 straight games, and had what I think is still the only d3 undefeated season.

It's a different world today.

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The season of Potsdam's first championship Albany played them four times: Lost 71-70 in triple overtime, lost at Potsdam 64-53, won the SUNYAC championship at Potsdam 60-59 in overtime, and lost the second round NCAA at Potsdam 68-63 in overtime. That's how close we were to a championship caliber team ourselves

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1 hour ago, UAalum72 said:

The season of Potsdam's first championship Albany played them four times: Lost 71-70 in triple overtime, lost at Potsdam 64-53, won the SUNYAC championship at Potsdam 60-59 in overtime, and lost the second round NCAA at Potsdam 68-63 in overtime. That's how close we were to a championship caliber team ourselves

I knew UA had some great teams under Doc Sauers (who had a brief appearance in the documentary) but Potsdam was a different level back then. From 1979 to 1987 the appeared in the National title game 5 times, winning 2, and they got upset in the "elite 8", ending their 60 game win streak after being screwed and having to play on the lower ranked teams home floor - while they were ranked #1 in the country. Think they made the Final 4 for D3 9 times in that era. Was a cool spot/time for me to grow up as a basketball fan. Throwing toilet paper rolls onto the floor after the first Potsdam basket. Having a packed house with 3-4k fans at every game in a tiny town.

I went to UA in the mid 90s, and reconnected with the School when the 06 team put a scare into UConn. Had my first season tickets the Hooley shot year, and became a hopelessly addicted fan when SEFCU Arena was rocking every game. That was what I was used to as kid growing up and attending games. That excitement and electric atmosphere at every tip. Standing room only at every Clarkson Hockey game at Cheel arena, even the worst games of the year were packed. UA brought me back to those days while we were averaging over 4k fans for the good games and close to 4k a game for the whole season just a few short years ago. I loved giving my kids that same experience.

These last few years have been getting sadder and sadder attendance and record wise. I can only hope that the school can turn around and bring us back to the exciting packed house days soon, especially with the SEFCU renovation.

Edited by godanesgo99
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1 hour ago, UAalum72 said:

The season of Potsdam's first championship Albany played them four times: Lost 71-70 in triple overtime, lost at Potsdam 64-53, won the SUNYAC championship at Potsdam 60-59 in overtime, and lost the second round NCAA at Potsdam 68-63 in overtime. That's how close we were to a championship caliber team ourselves

The Danes arch rivals during my time at UA, 1979-1983.  I was at that 71-70 3OT loss, the greatest bball game I have ever seen.  3,500 students in University Gym when it only held 3,000, students sitting on the steps going up the bleachers.  Atmosphere was incredible.  The boys got them in the SUNYAC Championship but lost in the NCAAs to the Bears.  Their two All-Americans were just too good.  Probably Doc Sauers best team along with the 1993 team to give him a chance at a title.

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21 hours ago, nysteve661 said:

The Danes arch rivals during my time at UA, 1979-1983.  I was at that 71-70 3OT loss, the greatest bball game I have ever seen.  3,500 students in University Gym when it only held 3,000, students sitting on the steps going up the bleachers.  Atmosphere was incredible.  The boys got them in the SUNYAC Championship but lost in the NCAAs to the Bears.  Their two All-Americans were just too good.  Probably Doc Sauers best team along with the 1993 team to give him a chance at a title.

Yes, I was at that game, too. University Gym is simply awesome whenever it is packed the way it was then. Shortly after that season, the school was prohibited from letting students sit on the stairs. When Albany beat the Bears sometime during those years, the school extended its home game winning streak to 24. Mike Deane, who eventually coached at LCC, was playing for Potsdam during a game at Albany when he picked up a significant foul. He went to the bench and showed some temper by throwing down a towel. The Albany crowd picked up on that move and razzed him unmercifully. Potsdam never recovered and lost the game. Also, during those years (I think it was the 71-72 season) when Albany beat Buff State. That school had won 50 straight SUNYAC conference games, and it was gratifying to see Albany erase that steak in front of another awesome home crowd. Brockport State was another intense rival during that time.

I know that these games were only on a Division III level, but in many ways it seems like that time was the Golden Age of men's basketball. 

Please forgive me some possible errors in this message. I'm pulling them out of my head from about 50 years ago.

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12 hours ago, olddog71 said:

Yes, I was at that game, too. University Gym is simply awesome whenever it is packed the way it was then. Shortly after that season, the school was prohibited from letting students sit on the stairs. When Albany beat the Bears sometime during those years, the school extended its home game winning streak to 24. Mike Deane, who eventually coached at LCC, was playing for Potsdam during a game at Albany when he picked up a significant foul. He went to the bench and showed some temper by throwing down a towel. The Albany crowd picked up on that move and razzed him unmercifully. Potsdam never recovered and lost the game. Also, during those years (I think it was the 71-72 season) when Albany beat Buff State. That school had won 50 straight SUNYAC conference games, and it was gratifying to see Albany erase that steak in front of another awesome home crowd. Brockport State was another intense rival during that time.

I know that these games were only on a Division III level, but in many ways it seems like that time was the Golden Age of men's basketball. 

Please forgive me some possible errors in this message. I'm pulling them out of my head from about 50 years ago.

I was there 70-74. Packed gym most of the time. Hartwick was always tough too and Oneonta seemed a real rivalry. The biggest difference is that dorm rooms and homes were not full of cable tv and internet with boundless entertainment choices. Patron’s pockets didn’t have cell phones and social media to interfere with the game. Fans interacted with each other and concentrated on the game and cheering for the team. Feeling nostalgic this morning. 

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2 hours ago, jimbo said:

I was there 70-74. Packed gym most of the time. Hartwick was always tough too and Oneonta seemed a real rivalry. The biggest difference is that dorm rooms and homes were not full of cable tv and internet with boundless entertainment choices. Patron’s pockets didn’t have cell phones and social media to interfere with the game. Fans interacted with each other and concentrated on the game and cheering for the team. Feeling nostalgic this morning. 

I had a tear in my eye when I saw you mentioned Hartwick, for some reason I have always had a fondness for Hartwick and the City of Oneonta, NY.  I truly enjoyed watching Doc Sauers and Nick Lambros battle it out on the sidelines and as you may know, Nick remains active as an assistant coach for Hartwick College.  Lastly, thank you to the Hartwick community in providing a 1st rate education and assisting my daughter in becoming a wonderful human being.  While origins of this saying are tied to Syracuse University, I will borrow it for this moment: " My daughter and my money went to Hartwick" and it was worth it.  Sorry for being semimetal this morning.

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