As I’m writing this, the final minutes of the Michigan/Seton Hall 1989 national championship game are playing on the Big Ten Network.
That game was special for me because it’s my first real cognizant memory of college basketball. Probably because the Final Four was in Seattle that year, I remember the game being on at my grandparents’ house even though neither one of them cared much for basketball. Seven years old at the time, I remember Rumeal Robinson stepping to the line and hitting the two free throws in overtime to win it.
There are two plays I don’t remember from back then, though, that stand out today as I’m watching the replay and somehow have not gone down in history right next to Robinson’s big shots.
The first happened in the second half: Robinson drove baseline, took off under the hoop, and threw down a backwards dunk that nobody saw coming. Why this isn’t one of the most replayed Big Dance moments, I still don’t know. Robinson was like 6-1 or 6-2, and he pulled off a move that (especially for the time) was amazing, like Spud Webb-level. And yet no one ever talks about it, and it’s not even included in the highlight package posted below.
The second play happened in overtime, setting up Robinson’s free throws. Down one in the final seconds, Robinson drives to the rim — you can tell he doesn’t really have a plan — and gets bailed out by maybe the worst foul call ever. Really, hit the YouTube link below and go straight to the 1:55 mark. Can you imagine the hell that would break loose if a title game in 2009 was decided by such a ticky-tack call? I wouldn’t blame Seton Hall fans if they were still complaining about that call 20 years later — it was that bad. The crazy part is that no one on Seton Hall’s side really even argues it, from P.J. Carlesimo to the players.
Oh, and enjoy Glen Rice getting buckets.