Alford goes for record

Alford goes for record

By Bob Hammel, H-T Sports Editor

February 11, 1987

From the February 11, 1987 Bloomington Herald-Telephone

EVANSTON, Ill. – This may be the night Steve Alford has been building toward for four years and 112 games, and which his tens of thousands of fans have been awaiting with delicious anticipation.

If Steve Alford, who has scored 2,177 points in Indiana red and white, scores 16 more against Northwestern tonight (8:05, Ch. 4), he will become IU’s all-time leading scorer.

Considerable attention has accompanied Alford’s push for the top spot – not so much that it has obscured his, his team’s and his coach’s clear No. 1 ambition, to win the Big Ten championship – but considerable.

It generally is said that the record he is about to beat is 32 years old. Actually, the recordholder – the late Don Schlundt – claimed it much longer ago than that.

On Feb. 23, 1953, sophomore Schlundt played just 24 minutes and contributed 31 points to a landslide 113-78 victory by an Indiana team that was on its way to a national championship.

The next day’s newspapers spoke of a barrage of records set in the game: most points ever by one team in a Big Ten game, and by two teams, and most ever in an IU game, and most ever in the old IU Fieldhouse on Seventh Street. It was the 14th game of an 18-game Big Ten schedule, and in it Schlundt went past the former conference scoring record for a season, and set IU records for field goals in a season, and free throws.

And, the 28th paragraph of a 28-paragraph story said:

“Incidentally, Schlundt broke the Indiana all-time (career) scoring mark of Bill Garrett.”

The record Schlundt passed stood at 792. Before Schlundt was done more than two years later, he almost had tripled it, and he had boosted the record to a height not reached by another Big Ten player for 15 years – and never really approached till Alford’s fourth year of Hoosier leadership.

So, the 2,192 is a 32-year old record but Schlundt has had it for 34, which is appropriate. The 6-foot-10 center from Washington Clay High School in suburban South Bend did all that scoring in Indiana uniform No. 34.

Schlundt died of cancer Oct. 24, 1985. A few months before he and Alford – already past 1,000 and clearly a possibility to take the record – had an exchange of correspondence that touched the young Hoosier shooter.

“I never met him in person,” Alford said, “but he wrote me when he was in the hospital. He wished me a lot of luck and said he always knew the record would be broken some day and he hoped it would be a person like me.

“I was grateful for that.”

Indiana enters the game needing a victory to protect its slim Big Ten lead. The Hoosiers defeated Northwestern in the teams’ first meeting, 95-43, at Assembly Hall Jan. 17, when everything went right for Indiana and wrong for Northwestern. It’s a difficult psychological position for the Hoosiers – and, of course, for Northwestern.

“Our basic concern is that we shoot better, and particularly early,” Northwestern coach Bill Foster said.

“Also, that we are able to control the tempo better than we did in the first game.”

The Wildcats opened the game in a deliberate offense, obviously intending to use up as much of the 45-second shot clock as they could on each possession before taking a high-percentage shot.

The plan crumbled amid some early turnovers, and Indiana burst away to the eventual rout.

“The biggest thing for us is that we’ve got to be confident we can play against them,” Foster said, “and that we can score against them.

“They get so much out of their defense.”

Northwestern was the game in which freshman Tony Freeman came off the Hoosier bench to deliver nine fast first-half assists in breaking the game open.

“Freeman played so well against us,” Foster said. “He dished out and he dished in.

“And (IU center Dean) Garrett is playing so well right now. I thought he really intimidated us in that game. He blocked so many shots.”

Foster, like virtually all coaches who have taken on Indiana in the last few years, figures to build his defense around containing Alford. On the Big Ten’s weekly telephone press conference Tuesday, Foster wasn’t ready to pinpoint Alford as the league’s toughest defensive challenge.

“There are a lot of guys who are difficult to defense,” he said. “I’d certainly say he is one of them.

But there is (Dennis) Hopson at Ohio State – there are just so darned many good players.”

Northwestern’s leader is 6-foot-10 junior Shon Morris, who carries a 14-point average although he has had to work against a variety of defenses that have sagged on all sides of him. Senior guard Elliot Fullen also has been scoring consistently for the Wildcats.

Foster is instilling his own ideas about discipline in the Northwestern program while building it in other ways as well. He set down two players for one-game suspensions last week, and he said the penalties will continue this week with freshman forward Donald Polite and junior center Bo Cucuz sitting out tonight’s game. Foster declined to give the reason for the move.

The game has bee sold out for several days. Traditionally, the game brings out a huge delegation of Indiana fans from northwestern Indiana, and the crowd in Welsh-Ryan Arena ends up somewhere between a third and a half full of red-wearers.

It is the only game on tonight’s Big Ten schedule. The Hoosiers’ primary chasers are looking at each other – Purdue playing at Iowa Thursday night, and Illinois playing at Iowa Saturday. Indiana won’t play again after tonight until Monday night, when they will play the weekly ESPN game at Wisconsin (9:35).