BCS History & Legends

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COLLEGE
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HISTORY & LEGENDS

The Glory Days of Texas Southern

The 1940s saw Historically Black Colleges and Universities emerge as solid educational and athletic platforms for African Americans. They developed strong leaders with vision and passion that produced equally strong competitors. In the 1950s, Texas Southern men’s basketball became a integral part of the Black college basketball efforts to merge into the national collegiate picture. In 1977, the Tigers captured their first NAIA National Champioinship. This is a capsule of some of the Tigers legacy. 

 

Ed P. Adams, Tuskegee

Ed P. Adams Head Coach

Ed P. Adams (a graduate of Tuskegee Institute) became the sixth head football coach at the North Carolina College for Negroes (now known as North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina) before venturing over to Texas Southern. He held that position for the 1936 season, compiling a record of 4–3-1 and coached the men’s basketball team during the 1936-37 season. (He preceded the legendary John B. McLendon, Jr. whom NCC president
Dr. James E. Shepard hired to take over the team.
He left to coach at his alma mater, Tuskegee University to a 200-81 record from 1937 to 1949.
He took over the Texas Southern men’s program in 1949 in nine years, Adams had four 30-plus wins seasons, five Southwestern Athletic Conference titles and compiled a 264-54 record.
His teams finished second in the NAIA Nationals in 1955-56, reached the quarterfinals in 1956-57 and was third in 1957-58.
Adams amassed a career coaching record of 464–135 before his coaching career was cut short in 1958 as he passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage.
The former Adams Gym on the TSU campus was named after him.
His teams were led by some outstanding players like center Bennie Swain, point guard Woody Saulsberry, Benny Roy, Freddie Maura, and Willie Taylor.

Ralphael O'Hara Lanier

On July 2, 1948, Ralphael O’Hara Lanier, who had earlier served five years as dean of Houston Colored Junior College and more recently as United States Minister to Liberia, became the first president of the university. Lanier had a record of leadership in higher education, which made him a good selection for the new university.
TSU weathered years of underfunding, as well as leadership problems and scandals. It faced an increasingly dire financial picture. Its short-term crisis was compounded by roadblocks it still faces in securing money from the state and the challenges it confronts as a small school in an increasingly competitive higher education landscape. But, like other HBCUs, it perserveres and continues to produce a quality and a competitive spirit. 

1958  District 6 champions (4-1)
1971  District 8 (0-1)
1976  District 8 (2-1)
1977  District 8 (5-0)

1974  led the NAIA in scoring – 103.0

Harry “Machine Gun” 
He scored 3,066 points — the sixth most in NCAA Division I history — and averaged 27.9 points per game and a career total of 1,085 rebounds (9.9 per game), the first player to score over 3,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds in NCAA history. He was three times Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year.  He received the John McLendon Award, which honors the best player at a HBCU (1982, 1983).
1983 4th Round pick, Atlanta Hawks.
2× NCAA season scoring leader (1982, 1983)
3× SWAC Player of the Year (1981–1983)

Bennie Swain, Texas Southern

Bennie Swain Center

Bennie Swain led the nation in scoring during the 1957-58 season and was named a First Team All-American.
He was the school’s all-time leading scorer (until Harry “Machine Gun” Kelly passed him in 1981) and the NAIA all-time leading scorer from 1955-58. In 15 tournament games, he had 119 field goals, 64 free throws, 302 total points and 20.1 average per game.
Swain was the Boston Celtics First Round pick (seventh overall) of the 1958 NBA Draft. In his only NBA season, he played in 58 games for the Celtics as a backup to Hall of Famer Bill Russell.
Benny   High school basketball coach in Houston at Lincoln High School, 1970-76, Jones High School, 1980-89 and later at Ryan Middle School in 1999.
Texas Southern University Hall of Fame, 1976

Woody Saulsberry Guard

In his sophomore season, Woody Sauldsberry helped Texas Southern win the annual Black College Championship Tournament and the Tigers went 32-0 in Sauldsberry’s junior year on their way to 53 straight wins.
In 1956, Texas Southern finished second in the NAIA tournament.
Woody Saulsberry was a much sought-after pro prospect but first toured the world with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1955-57 before the Philadelphia Warriors drafted him in the 8th round (5th pick, 60th overall) of the 1957 NBA Draft.
He joined the Warriors from 1957-60 and was named the 1958 NBA Rookie of the Year after scoring 1112 points and 826 rebounds, only the second Black player to win the award behind Maurice Stokes (1956).
Saulsberry later signed with the St. Louis Hawks and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Western Division playoffs. 
Before ending his pro career, Woody played with the New Haven Elms in the Eastern Professional Basketball League (EPBL); the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs in the new American Basketball Association (ABA) from 1961-63 and with the NBA Boston Celtics in his final season in 1965 – 1966.
Woody After his playing days, Sauldsberry worked with Sonny Hill to establish the Baker Basketball League in Philadelphia, a legendary summer showplace for Philly youth.
He joined the President’s Council on Physical Fitness as the organization’s public spokesperson

Freddie Maura,Guard, was a four-year starter and impact player for one of the most dominant eras in Tiger basketball history. He led the Tigers to three SWAC Championships (1956, ’57, ’58) and a second-place finish in 1959.
Maura earned 1957-58 All-SWAC First Team honors and was named to the second team in 1958-59.
In 1960, he would become a successful high school coach in the city of Houston.
Other starters were Benny Roy and Willie Taylor.

NAIA

The Tigers have appeared in the NAIA Tournament seven times. Their combined record is 18–6. They were NAIA National Champions in 1977.

Year Round Opponent Result
1955
First Round
Adrian
W 102–83
Second Round
Gustavus Adolphus
L 55–67
1956
First Round
Hastings
W 108–61
Second Round
Rockhust
W 64–61
Quarterfinals
Midwestern State
W 85–82
Semifinals
Wheaton
W 82–73
Championship
McNeese State
L 55–60
1957
First Round
New Haven State
W 67–66
Second Round
Ball State
W 97–72
Quarterfinals
Pacific Lutheran
L 72–91
1958
First Round
Oklahoma Baptist
W 79–68
Second Round
Drury
W 91–61
Quarterfinals
Coe
W 98–78
Semifinals
Tennessee State
L 85–101
3rd Place
Georgetown (KY)
W 121–109
1971
First Round
Fairmont State
L 78–79
1976
First Round
West Florida
W 81–59
Second Round
Fairmont State
W 82–75
Quarterfinals
Coppin State
L 77–88
1977
First Round
Central State, O
W 89–65
Second Round
Wisconsin Parkside
W 82–80
Quarterfinals
East Texas State
W 87–68
Semifinals
Grand Valley State
W 69–62
Championship
Campbell
*W 71–44

NCAA 

In a season when the The Texas Southern Tigers got off to a dismal start to the season (2-8), they shocked the perennial power and nationally ranked Michigan State Spartans on December 20, 2014 in East Lansing, Michigan. The Tigers battled the mighty Spartans, and almost won the game in regulation time. They took the game  into overtime and stunned the Spartans with a 71–64 victory.
TSU became the first HBCU to beat a team that went on to reach the Final Four that same season.