achieve more historical greatness on their road to glory than the other
two teams I discussed previously. Their road leads to the most
meaningful game in NCAA history, a road that changed basketball as a
sport while challenging racial in the 1960s. Coach Haskins, who
previously coached girl’s hoops in a high school league, recruits several
black players to play on his team after becoming the head coach at the
University of Texas at El Paso. He is motivated purely by reasons
related to winning basketball games. No talented players want to attend
an isolated school in Texas, and these black players have raw talent even
if they lack some fundamental skills. For example, “the charismatic
point guard Bobby Joe Hill (Derek Luke), and his performance, like his
character’s approach to basketball, is both stylish and unselfish” (Scott),
but in some ways, all the black ballplayers were thought of as inferior in
the film. The movie does not take much time to develop the characters
because it tells the story from the perspective of the coach with the team
presented as a collective. At times, viewers can feel the racism and
hostility on the screen quite powerfully. Because of the different style
of play and number of black players on the team, they are booed,
cursed, and showered with bottles on the court. One player is beaten
up in a restroom, and their hotel rooms are vandalized with racist
slogans even though they are winning back-to-back games. All of these
acts reveal the ignorance and hatred of the society when they played.
Coach Haskins’s love of basketball and for his team leads them
to become part of the momentous NCAA Championship game in 1966.
Despite that fact that Coach Haskins is in some ways just a normal
coach who wants to win games and recruit the players effectively, the
whole team, including Haskins, understands that more is at stake here
than just winning the title. The close-up scene of the last time out during
the big game expresses the historical nature of the game. At this point,
Coach Haskins puts five black players onto the court and defeats the
all-white team coached by Adolph Rupp (Jon Voight) at the University
of Kentucky. With about two minutes left in the game and a three-point
advantage for the Texas Western College Miners, Coach Rupp calls a
timeout during which the two coaches will arrange their final tactics.
148
Previous Page Next Page