The true things always ambush me on the road and take me by surprise when I
am drifting down the light of placid days, careless about flanks and
rearguard actions. I was not looking for a true thing to come upon me in the
state of New Jersey. Nothing has ever happened to me in New Jersey. But came
it did, and it came to stay.
In the past four years I have been interviewing my teammates on the 1966Ã¢ÂÂ67
basketball team at the Citadel for a book I'm writing. For the most part,
this has been like buying back a part of my past that I had mislaid or shut
out of my life. At first I thought I was writing about being young and
frisky and able to run up and down a court all day long, but lately I
realized I came to this book because I needed to come to grips with being
middleÃ¢ÂÂaged and having ripened into a grayÃ¢ÂÂhaired man you could not trust to
handle the ball on a fast break.
When I visited my old teammate Al Kroboth's house in New Jersey, I spent the
first hours quizzing him about his memories of games and practices and the
screams of coaches that had echoed in field houses more than 30 years
before. Al had been a splendid forwardÃ¢ÂÂcenter for the Citadel; at 6 feet 5
inches and carrying 220 pounds, he played with indefatigable energy and
enthusiasm. For most of his senior year, he led the nation in fieldÃ¢ÂÂgoal
percentage, with UCLA center Lew Alcindor hot on his trail. Al was a battler
and a brawler and a scrapper from the day he first stepped in as a Green
Weenie as a sophomore to the day he graduated.
After we talked basketball,