It was a pleasure to see a college basketball great still show off his skills 20 years after his basketball dominance and become a champion – even if it was at a ping pong table.
The theme of our latest edition of The A Lot of Sports Talk Podcast could very well be “Return to Glory,” as both of our guests either have experienced championship moments on the court and/or are looking to return colleges to the glory years of their basketball past. Our first guest returned his school to the cusp of a championship back in 1996, as we caught up with Syracuse University legend and former New York Knick first-round draft pick John Wallace during the TopSpin Charity Celebrity/Athlete Ping Pong Tournament last week in lower Manhattan. Soon after Wallace cleaned house at table tennis and won the celebrity event for a third consecutive year, we chatted briefly with the last person to wear the fabled No. 44 on the hardwood for the Orange, and he explained to us what made the 1996 team – which reached the Final Four and, eventually, the national championship game – so special. Wallace also talked about his experience playing with the Knicks and updates us on what he’s up to now in his post-playing career.
Our featured interview is with a new face in the Centennial State looking to lead a university back to past basketball greatness. University of Colorado women’s basketball coach JR Payne took some time to chat with us about her Buffaloes team that now is ranked No. 21 in the country, the program’s first Associated Press national ranking in almost three years (Jan. 13, 2014). Payne, who was hired at Colorado in March after two seasons as head coach at Santa Clara University, describes her experience of her first few months adjusting to life in Boulder, as well as gives us a brief scouting report of her team and what has made them so good to begin this season. Payne’s given first name is Ali-Marie, and JR lets us in on how she received her unique nickname. (It’s funny, trust us.) Also, Payne explains how her husband, CU assistant coach Toriano Towns, has made her a better coach…and vice versa. Colorado used to be a women’s basketball power back in the days of the Big Eight Conference, when legendary coach Ceal Barry was in charge of the program, and Payne describes the impact of having Barry, currently an administrator at the University, still being a part of the school and the program.
Please enjoy the podcast, and leave us any and all comments that you have. Click here to go to the A Lot of Sports Talk podcast page on iTunes, or click here to find the podcast on Google Play Music. From there, you can download this show as well as subscribe to our podcast page and receive new episodes on your device the second it is posted. You can also open iTunes, and in the Podcasts section, type in “A Lot of Sports Talk” in the search box to find our shows.[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/ALOST/TheALOSTPodcast32.mp3]
Interview Order: Intro (0:00 – 4:51); John Wallace (4:54 – 10:47); JR Payne (10:51 – 31:34); Wrap-up (31:40 – 34:31)
[Cover photo (Toriano Towns and JR Payne) courtesy of Cliff Grassmick/BuffZone.com]