20th Century General:

Showing of The Only Player in History to have VINYL RECORDS thrown onto the court:
(Some say that day,there were flying saucers in TheOrange(Carrier)DOME,But really they were just breaking records!)

Sherman Douglas never stood taller than he did on that one night in the Carrier Dome

Sherman Douglas, the former Syracuse University guard whose Big East Conference record for most assists in a career was broken on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome by Providence’s senior, Vincent Council.

But . . .

“Sherman only played three years,” Jim Boeheim, the Orange coach, said by way of reminder. “In his freshman year, he had some guy named Washington ahead of him, so he didn’t get to play that year. I don’t think anybody would break (Douglas’) record in three years.”

On his way to that now-broken record, Douglas played many memorable games. But the one against Connecticut on Feb. 28, 1989, was as good as any. Because it was in that contest with the Huskies in the Carrier Dome that Sherman broke two records -- the all-time SU career scoring record (held until then by Dave Bing) and the all-time NCAA career assists record (held until then by Northeastern's Andre LaFleur).

What follows is my account of that historic evening of basketball here in our town.


When the records were finally toppled Tuesday night, which is to say after Sherman Douglas rammed home one dunk and shortly thereafter passed off to Billy Owens for another, the little big man from Washington was left to talk about the noise that his actions had inspired.

The great and good Dave Bing had been placed in the rearview mirror, finally. Andre LaFleur, too. And both in less than three minutes during a game that had long since stopped being a competition, becoming instead an athletic concerto.

And the howling that ensued following those jams? Had it been helium, the Carrier Dome would right now be floating past God's brow.

"I think,” Douglas would say after pulling his head out of the roaring cannon that the bubbled building had become, "that was the loudest I've ever heard the fans cheer here."

Oh, it came in waves, the hollering and stamping and whistling and clapping did. And it came from the crummy seats on the far side of the curtain as well as from Jim Boeheim's very throne at the head of the Syracuse bench. Why, some clowns even tossed a few records -- broken ones, of course -- onto the floor in tribute.

All for Sherman. All for SU's all-time leading scorer. All for the NCAA's all-time leader in assists.

And all earned.

"Inventive is the word for him, " Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said of Douglas, the senior point guard who helped beat the Huskies, 88-72, before 29,124 ranting Domers. "Some of those things he does, I've never seen before. And we probably won't again."

Things? Try the scoring of 1,889 career points (including 22 against UConn) . . . or six more than Bing, the Orange icon. Try the passing off for 897 career assists (including 11 at the Huskies' expense) . . . or three more than LaFleur, Northeastern's former splendid playmaker.

Try that rare statistical exacta built on this odd marriage -- the chutzpah needed to single-handedly launch 1,369 career shots, as Sherman has done during his four seasons in Syracuse, and the selflessness to dole the ball out to teammates countless other times (with the offspring being some 3,700 SU points). Now, try wrapping it around a twirling 6-foot package of on-court sass. And, yes, then try coming up with a better word than "inventive."

Better yet, don't bother.

For the record, the end of the long chases came midway through the second half of Sherman Douglas' 129th varsity game. Or, as the General, himself, submitted, pretty much at the perfect time.

"Everything was right,” he said. "I wanted to do it at home. I didn't want it to happen on the road. And we were beating them. Connecticut was down and kind of rattled. And then the fans started showing their support."

And, well, how could they not?

After all, with 11:57 to play, Douglas found himself all alone on a fast break -- and just a single digit behind Bing. As such, with history about to be made, he took flight as he neared the basket, rising . . . rising . . . rising . . . as well as he could before shoving the ball through the rim for his 16th and 17th points of the evening. And Bing, in a sense, was no more.

"I was hoping I would dunk it on somebody,” Sherman said of his slam that gave SU a 58-42 lead, "but I can't do that."

The assist mark? That would fall moments later when Douglas, on yet another fast break into the archives, dropped the ball off to a trailing Owens, who hurled it through the rim with 9:13 on the clock with a fury that made for the strongest of exclamation points.

"It looked like it was going to slip out of his hands,” Sherman said of the Owens dunk that created a 64-44 advantage for SU. "But Billy caught it and made a great play."

On both occasions, the on-court action was stopped as the throaty masses rose to their feet in wild homage. On both occasions, Boeheim -- the man who roomed and played with Bing, coached against LaFleur, and nurtured Douglas -- marched onto the floor to pump his 22-year-old captain's hand. On both occasions, the Dome very nearly broke free from its moorings and took flight.

"I was looking in case one of those sharp records was going to come down,” Sherman said of his saluted moments. "The Syracuse fans are supportive. It's kind of dangerous for them to throw records, but that's the way fans are.

"The fans have been behind me all along. Even when I was a freshman and wasn't getting much time, I was a crowd favorite."

Never, naturally, more than on Tuesday night.

And so, it is over. Bing has been caught, LaFleur has been passed, the basketball life of SU and its little big man from Washington will now go on. And per usual, thankfully.

"Every time I opened a newspaper, I saw a countdown to whatever I had to do,” Douglas said long after the echoes had died inside the Dome. "I just wanted to get it out of the way. We have other things to worry about than scoring and assists."

He meant, of course, Boston College on Thursday. And Georgetown on Sunday. And next week's Big East Conference postseason fund-raiser down in New York. And the NCAA Tournament after that. Somewhere between four and 11 games were left in his career, and now, with the dancing having ceased, it was time to address them. Each and every one.

Tuesday night? Oh, it had been fun, all right. And memorable. And loud. "Probably the highlight of my career,” Sherman said.

But, despite the joy in reaching the end of the four-year climb up that statistical Everest, there was at least one greater thrill on his mind. Indeed, what would make the General feel even nicer than listening to all of Tuesday's noisy hosannas?

"Two wins in Seattle,” Sherman Douglas said.

They are, of course, but points and assists away.

CherrieHoop and I were having refreshments at half time, when suddenly, Cherrie says "Sherman!" to a nice -looking guy standing next to me. It was indeed Sherman Douglas -- whom no one else had recognized. He was dressed in a sports jacket and tie and was there with his daughter, a delightful high school senior who is interested in attending SU next year (standard parent and child college visit thing). Anyhow, Cher and I had a nice chat with father and daughter before returning to our seats for the second half.

Then, when we were leaving the arena at the end of the game, Sherm and his daughter were trying to enter the hallway to the locker room (to which they had been invited). Security guard would not let them in. Cherie and I start telling the guard .... "It's Sherman Douglas, let them in." Guard's reaction was like: "I have no idea who Sherman Douglas is, but he is not going to the locker room." I say: "He's one of the greatest players in Syracuse history." Guard clearly did not care (so much for my persuasive powers). Guard finally told Sherm and daughter to go back to the floor and exit through players' tunnel and talk to the guard there. I hope the second guard had more common sense than the first one.

"I guess the Sherman Douglas jersey hanging from the rafters didn't help."
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