Who’s the best, part deux!

By Eric Berry

Authors Note-After writing yesterday’s blog I had time to sit back and reflect on all the people I missed! Gulp-and there were a lot! And I’ll miss more today-guaranteed. Not a reflection on the coach or player, more on the 51-year old cob webbed cranium of yours truly.

You obviously noted some incredible neglections in yesterday’s ‘Who’s the best’ blog, right? Well so did I. Remember, however, that I did say there were a lot of people I personally hadn’t seen coach or play.
Coaches I missed
Dan Thurston-I was wrong in that I hadn’t seen Dan Thurston coach. He was my assistant for 7 years! What a knucklehead I am. I saw how he interacted with our kids. Tough as nails at 80+ years old. Demanding, but fair. I so wish I could get in a time machine and watch him in the 80’s. Like I said, I never went below the Lyndon/St. J town line unless I had to-thought I might never make it back! About the extent of my foray’s into St. Johnsbury was to the Star Theatre, Gold Crown Lanes, the Blue Moon Drive in(just across the Mason/Dixon line), and to McDonald’s(in high school we did the McDonald’s 500 like 500 times). Coach Thurston is the man!

Bob Rowe-This guy was unbelievable. Intense. He was great with the officials and I admired that from my playing days to my early coaching days. His kids played man to man defense line none other. ALL OF THEM. A Peoples Academy legend. Really a Vt legend.

Mona Garone-I know, I know, how could you not remember the legendary Mona Garone. They won like 47 bazillion titles in their own right. She was Ute Otley before Ute was Ute Otley. Ironically, a lot of the games that Mona won during the 80’s, Ute was playing nearby at Dartmouth and lighting it up. Anyway, Mona Garone helped bring women’s basketball in Vermont into the spotlight they so deserved. Every girl’s basketball player should be thankful for her legacy. A winner.

Robert Stretch Gillam-The guy was a winner. Over 600 wins. He was always so nice to me and got me. He also did so much for Vermont basketball, just like Mona.

Darrell “Skip” Pound-I got my intensity and absolute love of the game from Skip. I also owe the man for teaching me what mental toughness is all about. The two-time Vietnam tour serving veteran marine was a drill sergeant as a coach. I didn’t know it at the time, but I love him for it.

Tim Kelly-An omission pointed out by a friend of mine. Tim was only my coach for 1 year but man he taught me some serious x’s and o’s that year, and the years to follow. I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to Tim for the passion he passed along to me about the game. I remember how he had a drill for everything. A true student of the game that made those around him appreciate every nuance and detail of the game.

Players I missed
Shawn Burroughs-Known as “Bull” to his teammates. I’m in awe that I missed him yesterday. I coached Shawn for two years at Lyndon State and I’ve never seen anything like him. First, he was a great student athlete. Second, he was an absolute killer on the floor defensively for the other team’s offense. One time he set a pick so hard a kid in the back court that I swear-though it’s been over 10 years since he did it-the kids ears gotta be still ringing. A consummate teammate. Every day in practice he would give his best. EVERY DAY. Simply one of the best defenders I ever coached.

David Ball-Taylor Coppenrath and I were sitting at the press table when Ball took off from just inside the foul line on a wing drive and left his feet. I said to myself, ‘man he’s out of control’. Not sure if TC was thinking the same thing as me but all of the sudden BOOOMMMMM! Ball slammed it right over 2 guys solemn mugs at the rim. Taylor and I looked at each other in exasperation. What had we just seen! What an athlete!

Matt Joslin-Matt Joslin took the North Country Falcons to the Final Four in Division 1. Sure, he had some nice players around him, but everyone knows what the game plan was when you played the Falcons. Stop Joslin. They didn’t stop him. He went about his business and scored and led his team.

Danny Clifford-Danny went on to play at USM after his playing days at North Country. Another North Country legend who was a sophomore when I was a senior and built his lanky body into a complete basketball player. So fundamentally sound he could have been called the Big Fundamental like Tim Duncan.
Jazz Huntington-A ridiculous scorer and competitor. In the semi’s and final’s in ’96 she scored a combined 89 points. 89 freaking points. Just take a moment and think about that.
Rachel Maxwell-She was on the women’s team at Lyndon when I was coaching the men. I think she was wired exactly like me in terms of her competitive spirit-in other words we both have a screw loose at times but mean well. LOL. She is one of the best scorers in women’s basketball I have ever seen. Physical, relentless, defended, blocked shots, and vacuumed up the rebounds.

Jamie Rosso-One of the best guards I have ever seen and a consummate leader. All about the team and filled up the stat sheet. She was simply incredible on offense, defense and as a leader.
Todd Roberts-From Fair Haven to St. Mike’s. This guy could have played at UVM and there’s ZERO DOUBT ABOUT IT. 6’8 or 6’9 with an assassin’s shot from 15 to 17 feet, and beyond, and the ability to score inside, obviously. We played Todd’s #1 ranked Slaters in the first round of the tournament and we stalled the entire first half out of respect for him. Went into the locker trailing by 4 at the half. He got ticked off, we lost by 30.
Brent Kendall-Kendall’s conscience was checked in at the door or before he got on the bus on the trip to Barre in 1992. 74 points he scored in 2 games! Team lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer on a breakaway lay up.

Jamie Kingsbury-He led the Olympians to a 23 and 0(I think I’m right about that record) unbeaten season and a state championship. Talk about a stone-cold killer from outside-he was the man. He did the same thing at Lyndon State scoring over 1,000 there as well. Quick release, nothing but net.

Pat Stephens-I believe it was the first quarter of a game at the ‘Aud where I thought Pat might score 100 in the game. His two-game scoring output was 64 in ’02 but man he hit the ‘Aud like a tornado in Topeka. Had Johnny Allen and I just about falling out of the catacombs of the ‘Aud press box.

Kyle Hodgdon-He played at Plymouth State all 4 years that I played opposite of him at Lyndon. We played 8 times against each other and he dogged me from one end of the court to the other. He made me better. No idea where he is now, but man he was good.

There probably will be a part three tomorrow!