When he was asked to comment about DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh's bullish 6-foot-7-inch, 265-pound sophomore power forward, Xavier coach Sean Miller, a former Pittsburgh standout guard, said he was reminded of a former college teammate, Jerome Lane, whose greatest claim to fame wasn't that he led the nation in rebounding in 1986-87 with 13.5 rebounds per game, but that he shattered a backboard during a 1988 Big East home game against Providence.
CBS color analyst Bill Raftery, who was on hand for the East Regional in Boston, provided color for ESPN's ``Big Monday'' broadcast of that Jan. 25. 1988 game between the Panthers and Friars, immortalizing the shattering moment when he exuberantly shouted, ``Send it in, Jerome!''
When Raftery and his broadcast partner, Verne Lundquist, showed up in Pittsburgh this season to do a Panthers-UConn game, Lane paid a visit to press row. ``He came up to Verne and I and had this big smile and said, `Thanks for making me famous.' ''
Miller, though, had the opportunity to witness Lane's shattering feat from the court.
"It was almost unreal,'' he recalled. "Bill Raftery was at the game, but back then when you played in the Big East, there wasn't a lot of competition and we could've been the only game on [TV], I think it was Big Monday.
"The fact it happened and that it happened on Big Monday really allows these guys,'' he added, nodding to his Xavier players, ``to know that I really did play because they see that clip every two weeks.''
Asked if he got credit for the assist, Miller said, "Yeah, I did. That's called `The Pass' in my house.''
Miller bore witness to another amazing feat, which also came at Fitzgerald Field House, when former Boston College star Dana Barros dropped a then-Big East record 43 points (hitting a league-record nine 3-pointers) on the Panthers in a 95-83 home loss to the Eagles Jan. 7, 1989.
"We were drawing straws who was guarding him, so, yeah, that's a great memory,'' Miller said. "Then I think [Providence's] Eric Murdock followed that up with 47.''
Actually, coach, it was 48. The Panthers, though, pulled out a 92-79 victory at the Providence Civic Center.
"Perimeter defense wasn't our strength, that's for sure,'' Miller said. ``It's much different with today's Pitt teams.''
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell