1971-72 Men's Basketball National Champions Team to be Honored
Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 [2:21 PM]
The 1971-72 men's basketball team practiced
and played their home games at
Adair County High School gym. Photo: 1972 Pine
COLUMBIA, Ky. --
This Saturday, Feb. 25, the Lindsey Wilson College community will
recognize one of the school's greatest men's basketball teams.
The 1971-72 LWC men's basketball team
won the National Little College Athletic Association championship.
It was the first national championship won by an LWC sports
Living members of the team will be honored at halftime of the
LWC-St. Catharine (Ky.) College men's basketball game, which tips
off at 4 p.m. CT at Biggers Sports Center, 360 Spickard Drive.
The NLCAA was a short-lived tournament from 1967-82 that gave
smaller U.S. colleges a chance to win a national title. In 1972, a
team of 10 rugged and battle-tested Blue Raiders won the NLCAA
title in Albany, N.Y.
The 1971-72 LWC team got off to a rough start. Nine of
second-year LWC coach Jim Voight's players were freshmen; after
eight games, the Blue Raiders' record was an even 4-4.
LWC, which was still a junior college, played freshman squads of
area NCAA schools because freshmen were ineligible to play on NCAA
varsity teams. So that made competition fairly intense with games
against: Western Kentucky University; Xavier (Ohio) University; and
the University of Louisville, whose freshman team included future
NBA players Lee "Junior" Bridgeman and Allen Murphy.
If the tough competition didn't harden the young Blue Raiders in
early 1971-72, Voight's practices and discipline did.
"Coach was a great coach. He was a tough, tough, tough, tough
guy," said Vic Stansberry, who was a freshman forward from
Jeffersontown High School in Louisville, Ky. "When I read
Season on the Brink (about the 1985-86 Indiana University
men's basketball team under Bobby Knight), I couldn't sleep three
nights because it reminded me of my time on that team."
Voight was demanding and tough -- he had strict rules such as
the team didn't get to eat on the road after a loss. But Voight
earned his players' respect, Stansberry said.
"He was one of those guys you would want to strangle sometimes in
practice, but then you make it through and he's your best friend in
the whole world," said Stansberry, who played at LWC for two years
and now lives in Indianapolis. "You realize what he did for you and
how much he pushed you; you never realized you could be pushed that
hard. He became one of my best friends."
Although LWC had a solid offense, its calling card in '71-72 was
its defense, Stansberry said.
"Coach was a defensive madman, a genius. As the year went on, we
got better and better," he said. "Once you started understanding
all the intricacies of things like weak-side help, we became a very
good team. Then we got it going."
LWC's tallest player was Al Crimm, a 6-foot, 5-inch center from
Joppa, Ill., who had served four years in the Army before coming to
"He was just a warrior. Coach called him the Warhorse,"
Stansberry and Adair County High School graduate Micah Harvey,
who were both 6-3, were the rest of the front line.
In the backcourt, Tom Skaggs, who Stansberry said was "a tough
kid from Indianapolis," played on the wing; the offense was run by
Gary Powell of Columbus, Ohio, who Voight called Junebug.
"He was great with a ball and super smooth," Stansberry
The early 1970s were lean times at LWC. Voight had to battle the
school to give the basketball players two cartons of milk per meal,
instead of the usual one allotted to other residential students.
LWC's gym was in bad shape and the court was too short for a
regulation college game. So the Blue Raiders practiced and played
their home games in front of sparse crowds at the old Adair County
High School gym.
LWC finished the regular season 17-8. After two wins in the
Southcentral District Tournament, LWC traveled to upstate New York
for the national tournament.
"We weren't the five most talented people (at the national
tournament)," Stansberry said. "We were the smallest team there. We
weren't very big, we weren't real quick. But put everybody together
and we were a very intelligent and very coachable team. We were a
true team as we got toward the end of the season."
After struggling in the first round against Webster Liberty
State (W.Va.) College, LWC blew past Brewer (Ala.) Community
College 113-80 to advance to the title game.
In the finals, LWC faced heavily favored and much taller Palmer
(S.C.) College, whose was 6-9, 6-7 and 6-6 across the front
"No one gave us a chance to beat Palmer," Voight told The
With five minutes to go in the title game, Palmer put the ball
in the deep freeze to secure its 66-60 lead. But the hours of
Voight's grueling practices paid off for LWC as the Blue Raider
defense fueled a 6-0 rally. With 40 seconds to go, LWC took
possession of the ball and worked the clock for a final shot.
Harvey got the ball on the left block, turned on the baseline
with a couple players on him and nailed a shot in the game's final
seconds for a 68-66 win.
"He had the best fade-away you've seen in your life. He wasn't
the fastest, he wasn't the quickest, but he was so good at what he
did," Stansberry said. "He could shoot it over anyone, just like he
did that time."
Voight coached at LWC for one more year before leaving for a
high school coaching job in Illinois. He then spent a year at
nearby Russell County and a year Casey County high schools before
returning to coach junior college teams in Texas and Florida.
Voight coached one last time at a southern Illinois high school
before leaving the coaching business for sales. He died in 2003 at
the age of 67.
In addition to several players, Voight's wife, Keitha, and son,
Jimmy, and daughter, Debby, will be at Saturday's ceremony at
Biggers Sports Center.
"It was just a real fun team to watch and be around," said Jimmy
Voight, who now lives near Dallas. "We're looking forward to coming
back to campus and seeing some of the players from that team."