A Study in Societal Decay-Memphis Tigers Basketball From Larry Finch to Jamirah Shutes

“Memphis guard Jamirah Shutes has been charged with assault for allegedly punching Bowling Green player Elissa Brett as the two teams lined up for handshakes following the Falcons’ third-round victory in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) on Thursday night, police said.

The Bowling Green State University Police Department issued a press release Friday confirming that Shutes, a fifth-year player, was charged after the “unwarranted physical incident” involving Brett at the conclusion of BGSU’s 73-60 victory.

“Following Thursday’s unwarranted physical incident after the WNIT home game, the Bowling Green State University Police Department has charged a member of the Memphis women’s basketball team with assault,” the statement said.

“Violence is never acceptable, and our priority remains the health, safety and support of our student-athlete, who is recovering and doing well. This is an active investigation in conjunction with the City of Bowling Green Prosecutor, and no further comment is available at this time.”

Police said BGSU Athletics was also conducting its own review.

The incident happened at the conclusion of the Memphis-BGSU Sweet 16 matchup. As both teams approached center court to shake hands, Shutes appeared to stop when she reached Brett.

Shutes then sucker-punched Brett, forcing her to the floor, according to police.

A member of the Tigers’ coaching staff appeared to grab Shutes and escort her off the court.

According to an incident report, Brett sustained “swelling in their right eye due to this strike.”

Memphis released a statement Friday confirming that it was working with local authorities.

“The incident that occurred following Thursday’s women’s basketball game was extremely unfortunate and certainly not consistent with, or representative of, our expectations for our programs and student-athletes,” the statement said.

“Because the incident occurred after the game, jurisdiction falls in the hands of local authorities, and we are cooperating fully with their process. To be respectful of that process, we will not comment further until it is complete.”

A Tennessee native, Shutes became the 27th player in program history to score 1,000 points. She ranks 13th at the school all-time in career points.””(Courtesy FoxNews.com)

Here we are, in the middle of the NCAA and NIT College Basketball Tournaments, that time of year which has been dubbed “March Madness”.

This time of year, I always think about a man who made a difference in my life and that of many others.

His name was Larry O. Finch.

You may or may not have heard of him.

The following is an adaptation of a post that I wrote upon hearing of his death in 2011.

I am reposting this because, in this age of self-centered Collegiate and Professional Athletes, it  is a story about a man whose life was not only filled with a love of the game, but with love for his fellow man.

The year is 1972.  A skinny, undersized asthmatic kid, new to Wooddale Junior High, is about to be annihilated in a game called Bombardment, a rather sadistic game thought up by the 9th grade P.E. coach for his personal amusement. 

Resembling the movie “Dodgeball” on steroids,  two teams (usually the delinquents on one side and their victims on the other), would line up against both sides of the bleachers waiting for the coach’s whistle. 

Then, the massacre would ensue.

Sure that I was about to breathe my last, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and a kind voice telling me to stand beside him.  I looked up to see the smiling face of Larry Finch, Senior shooting guard on the Memphis State University Tigers Basketball Team. 

He had just taken an Internship at my school!

Over the semester, we became friends.  I became a Tiger fan for life, eventually receiving my degree there in 1980 in Radio, TV, and Film. 

While there, I had the privilege of calling radio play-by-play for the Women’s Basketball and Men’s Baseball teams.

Larry is also the reason that I went on to play and coach basketball, a 4th grade team and a church team, respectively.  My coaching record is 24-5.

But, I digress…

Of course, that was the year that the Memphis State University Basketball Team lost the NCAA Championship to Bill Walton and the UCLA Bruins. I don’t think that anyone in the nation hollered at their television set louder that night than I did.

Toward the end of that game, UCLA’s All-Star Center, Bill Walton, who had been absolutely running amok all night, sprained his ankle.

Larry Finch was the one who helped him off the floor!

I wonder what Coach Finch would have thought about the behavior of that young basketball player representing our Alma Mater in the NIT Tournament?

I know what I thought.

It was a national embarrassment.

Until He Comes,


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