TCU Men's Basketball - A Look Back at the 1967-68 Season (Part II)
March 5, 2008
The TCU Athletics Department will honor the 1967-68 Southwest Championship Team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday (Mar. 8) at the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Prior to the beginning of their contest against BYU, the Horned Frogs will honor their four seniors in Brent Hackett, Neiman Owens, Ryan Wall and Alvardo Parker. In addition - the Frogs will also recognize and salute some of the pioneers of TCU men's basketball in the 1967-68 squad.
In Part II of TCU Men's Basketball - A Look Back at the 1967-68 Season, the Horned Frogs proved to overcome all racial barriers en route to capturing the Southwest Conference Championship. Part III of the TCU Men's Basketball - A Look Back at the 1967-68 Season will be released on the TCU website this Friday.
There was something special about that TCU men's basketball team that hustled with grace up and down the court for the Horned Frogs during the 1967-68 campaign.
Maybe - it was the passion for basketball, especially for those who wore the letters TCU so proudly on their chest.
Maybe - it was the harmony that players from different backgrounds and races were able to share one common goal in an era where that was missing.
Whatever it was... whatever brought all of these players together - it worked.
In the 1960s - segregation was still very much in the forefront of American society with a large division between the color of a person's skin instead of the person who it covered. This translated from the upper class to the middle and down to the lower, and it took several brave people to make a stand for it to change.
On the basketball courts of TCU - it was the 1967-68 squad that were the brave ones that made that change.
It started with a highly-touted high school player out of I.M. Terrell High School named James Cash - who would not only become the first African-American basketball player at TCU, but also in the Southwest Conference. The 6-6 center was one of the most heavily-recruited athletes in the State of Texas, and he would become one of the cornerstones of the TCU program during that era long with Mickey McCarty.
Cash would have a stellar career for the Horned Frogs as he was a first team All-Southwest Conference selection in 1969 and earned Academic All-American laurels in 1968 and 1969. The TCU center averaged 13.8 points during the 1967-68 season and concluded his career with 1,026 points - including a 13.9 points per game average.
Following his collegiate career, Cash went on to bigger and better endeavors as he went on to earn his Ph.D. from Purdue then became the first black professor at the Harvard Business School. Now part owner of the Boston Celtics - Cash serves on the Board of Directors for several of the top companies in America, including Wal-Mart, General Electric as well as Microsoft.
Cash has proven to be a person who has broken down the color barriers wherever he's has gone, but there came a time when horror scenes from movies like Remember the Titans and Glory Road really didn't tell the tale of what it was like for an African-American student-athletes during the 1960s. Unfortunately - the Horned Frogs had to find out the hard way with several disturbing trips to Alabama and Auburn where the Purple and White had to overcome road obstacles on both the court and in their southern society.
One thing was for sure about the Horned Frogs that differed from the majority of other collegiate basketball program - they refused to let anyone get the better of them. They became the model of support for the person next to you, the model of acceptance, and most importantly, the model of a TEAM.
Former hardwood standout and Fort Worth native Rick Wittenbraker recently said in an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that, "Everybody on the team was proud to be a part of it." Everybody who wore the white TCU letters with the purple trim understood the significance of the moment they were in, but most importantly - understood what the moment would be like 40 years later as they all continued to stay in contact with one another.
That team will be reunited on the court of the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Saturday (Mar. 8th) when the Frogs welcome BYU to the Fort Worth area. When the faithful of the Purple and White look at their team running up and down the court of the DMC that evening playing as one unit - it's easy to forget, but important to remember that there was a time little over 40 years ago that this wasn't always the case.
It took the players that comprised the 1967-68 Southwest Conference championship team to prove that one special unit of players can accomplish great things.
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