Memory Lane: Basketball co-captains would have cherished shot at playing Ohio U.

As Alex Couladis ’75 and Chuck Robinson ’75 recently flipped through a scrapbook commemorating their senior season on the Pioneers basketball team they stopped for a moment and almost in unison says, “I wish Ohio University would have kept us on the schedule and played us that year.”

The teammates were part of two lopsided losses to the Bobcats in 1972-73 (87-31) and 1973-74 (80-53). But both agreed that new Ohio coach Dale Bandy didn’t want to keep the up-and-coming Pioneers on the schedule.

“They had graduated a few of the better players,” Couladis says.

Robinson adds, “I’m confident we would have beaten them that year.”

They’ll never know for sure. Now, 35 years later after Marietta’s magical run to an Ohio Athletic Conference championship and the Pioneers’ only appearance in an NCAA Tournament still remains one of the bright spots in the program’s history. Later this month you can read more about this team in the Spring 2010 Marietta, The Magazine of Marietta College (it should begin arriving in mailboxes around April 28). Once the magazine hits the streets we'll also post a special feature online updating you on the players, coaches and managers for that team at www.marietta.edu/74-75champs.

It also remains a distinctive time for the co-captains of that team.

“It was an exceptional team of closeness. Everybody cared about everybody,” says Couladis, who is a semi-retired CPA in Athens, Ohio. “There was a lot of teasing and practical jokes, which kept the atmosphere light. We played hard and we just kind of got on that roll. We would have like to gotten to 20 wins.”

An upset loss in the OAC tournament against Capital denied the Pioneers of reaching the all-important 20-win plateau.

It could also be argued the Pioneers won some games that could have easily gone the other way. During an 11-game winning streak, Marietta won seven by three points or less.

One of those victories—55-54 over Oberlin—included two clutch free throws by Couladis with one second remaining on the Ban Johnson Fieldhouse clock. Couladis says he’s never repeated this story before, but he claims he may have had some inside help.

“As co-captains, Chuck and I would meet with the officials before the game. So I recognize one of these refs,” Couladis says. “I played for Athens High School legend Charles McAfee and one of the officials comes up to me and says, ‘Charlie MacAfee heard I was doing your game and he told me to tell you ‘hello.’ ”

So down by one point and Oberlin had the ball with eight seconds remaining. “They had this one guy who was real lippy. He got cocky and decided to take a shot and (Jeff) Faloba blocked it. I was running down the court and put up my hand and (Dennis) Dronzek threw it to me.”

Couladis threw up a shot at the buzzer, but it went awry. That’s when a small intervention changed his fate.

“The same ref who greeted me at the beginning of the game called a foul on an Oberlin player who may have bumped me a bit. He told them to put one second back on the clock and he announces that I’ll be shooting a 1-an-1.”

Couladis had to sit for a few minutes as the clock operator added the second back to the clock. “But I toed the line and made the first one and then the second for the win. I remember how happy we were, but I also remember how mad that Oberlin coach was. Man was he mad.”