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Ex-UNLV basketball assistant relives youth at D3 hoops

After COVID trimmed the field from 19 teams to nine at the annual D3Hoops.com basketball tournament at the South Point, there were fewer good stories than usual about guys who play basketball below the rim when their studies allow.

But you still didn’t have to look far to find one.

A dozen or so rows up from where the Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets were diving on loose balls against the Whittier Poets, a thin man wearing a warmup jacket adorned with a bumblebee was reliving his youth.

Before he became Rolland Todd’s assistant when UNLV still was called Nevada Southern, Bill Scoble was a basketball star at Superior who was elected into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1984. He is so revered in the land of frozen tundra that Yellowjackets coach Greg Polkowski came up into the stands to greet him.

Scoble said Polkowski is a good coach who recruits good students. Such as No. 2 down there on the court, J’Vaun Walker, a biology major from Texas with a 4.0 GPA.

As the Yellowjackets and Poets set screens and played defense with a fervor that made the court squeak, Scoble talked about the 1967-68 Nevada Southern team that won 22 games and was on the verge of upsetting Elvin Hayes and Houston before defensive ace John Q. Trapp fouled out.

Trapp’s backup was local car dealer Cliff Findlay, “and I can still remember the look in his eye when Elvin was guarding him,” Scoble said.

A month after he guarded Findlay in Houston’s 94-85 victory, the “Big E” led Houston to a 71-69 win over UCLA (when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still was Lew Alcindor) in the “Game of the Century” before 52,693 spectators at the Houston Astrodome.

Conversely, the Wisconsin-Superior versus Whittier game was played before a few dozen fans. Superior won 77-75. J’Vaun Walker, No. 2, scored 12 points with six steals and five assists.

“That’s a big win for them,” 82-year-old Bill Scoble said with the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old as he made his way down to the court to bump fists with Greg Polkowski and his players near the rim they had been playing below.

Just as he once did.

Just for the fun of it.

Around the horn

— Wednesday’s inaugural ONEVEGAS gala at Allegiant Stadium honored former Olympic gold medalist BMX racer Connor Fields (Inspirational Achievement award), Raiders tight end Darren Waller (Community Achievement), AEG Presents (Entertainment Achievement) and the Raiders’ 33-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on “Monday Night Football” (Sports Achievement).

“Our community now proudly lays claim to the title of the sports and entertainment capital of the world, and we wanted to create an event at the end of the year to celebrate all of our teams, look back at the high points and raise money for local charities,” Las Vegas Bowl director John Saccenti said of the evening benefiting the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation, Opportunity Village, Extra Yard for Teachers and the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame.

A small fight broke out in the stands among Arizona State fans during Thursday night’s Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.

TMZ Sports overstated it a tad when it reported an “all-out brawl” was on the verge of breaking out when a Wisconsin fan lumbered over and said if the arguing Sun Devils supporters didn’t sit down, he was going to not-so-politely assist them in taking their seats.

— Most people usually don’t notice the guys who make special teams tackles. But when Arizona State’s Vicenzo Granatelli was identified as such during the Las Vegas Bowl, his name rang a bell.

His grandfather, Joe, was crew chief for Parnelli Jones’ iconic STP turbine racer at the Indianapolis 500. Car owner Andy Granatelli was his great uncle.

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UCLA quarterback and Bishop Gorman product Dorian Thompson-Robinson, after the Bruins pulled out of the Holiday Bowl because of a COVID outbreak and was accused on Twitter of ducking North Carolina State:

“We are still here in this hotel … if it was up to the players we can play y’all in the parking lot for all we care.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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