Steve Weissman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In 1981, The Ursinus Men’s Basketball Team had a miraculous season in which they made the NCAA Division III Final Four, and finished the season as the third best team in the nation. This team was an extremely unique one, as they had no clear offensive leader. All five of their leading scorers averaged between 11.3 and 12.7 points a night. Their most intriguing player however, was senior guard Mike Brophy ‘83.
Brophy won the team’s most outstanding defender award all 4 years with the Bears, including this 1981 season. On top of that, in his junior and senior years, he led the team in scoring efficiency. Brophy was the team’s sixth man his first three years, providing the offensive spark off of the bench along with being the defensive glue that held multiple defensive schemes together with differing lineups. His Senior year, he finally joined the starting five, and the Bears just happened to make the Final Four. He, along with the rest of his class on the squad, had witnessed a complete transformation in their four years with the Bears
“Our first captain that freshman year was Mike Piotrowicz, and he had told us these stories about how they had to practice against folding chairs because they didn’t have enough players to have a second team. [Next] we had 7 freshmen that made the team, and Coaches Skip Werely and Tom Inglesby had to make some tough decisions because they had to cut some guys who had been on the team for three years, they cut some seniors. Skip and Tom knew that if we wanted to turn the corner, this is what we had to do, and we went from being 1-19 the year before we got there, to I believe 13-8 my freshman year.”
By the time he and his classmates were seniors, the vast majority of their rotation had three years of varsity experience, and this is all because of the trust that Coach Skip had in them when they were 18 year olds. He allowed a group of boys to grow and not only to face adversity, but to overcome it together. This bond that Brophy and his teammates had built over the years was a huge factor in their success together on the court.
Brophy’s teammate at Ursinus and current Head Coach of the University of Pennsylvania’s Basketball team, Steve Donahue, said “the group of guys that you felt such a closeness to, and the family atmosphere is what turned me on to staying in coaching. You just don’t have that close knit feeling, where everyone is pulling for each other very often. And it obviously allowed us to achieve a lot of things together, we had so much adversity to get over. My best friends in the world are my college teammates, they’re the God-Parents to my kids.”
Brophy’s most memorable moment as a Bear came in the regional finals matchup, the equivalent of today’s Elite Eight. The Bears were tied late in the 4th quarter against Upsala, a division III basketball powerhouse. An offensive foul was then called on Mike, and the game was seemingly lost for the Bears, as he turned the ball over. Then out of nowhere, someone from the Upsala fan section threw toilet paper on to the court, and because of a pervious warning for the same infraction from the referees, a technical foul was called and the Bears were awarded with two free throws and the ball. They went on to make the free throws and win the game, to go on to make the Final Four.
Brophy and company were able to achieve something that no other Bears squad has matched, and their four-year transformation of folding chairs, toilet paper, and cutting seniors could be the perfect plot of a Hollywood blockbuster.