The Perfect Season: A Memoir of the 1964-1965 Evansville College Purple Aces

The Perfect Season: A Memoir of the 1964-1965 Evansville College Purple Aces

The Perfect Season: A Memoir of the 1964-1965 Evansville College Purple Aces

The Perfect Season: A Memoir of the 1964-1965 Evansville College Purple Aces


In 1964, the Evansville College Purple Aces raced undefeated through the Indiana Collegiate Conference, posting a perfect 24-0 regular-season record and winning the College Division NCAA championship. The skeleton of this season exists in newspaper archives and in books that capture the on-court action, but the flesh and blood has never been written--until now. This is the story of Russell Grieger, a starting guard, and his observations, feelings, reactions, and struggles of that season. It provides a game-by-game look into the team, showcasing Grieger's teammates, Coach Arad McCutchan, and Evansville's love for the Aces. The Perfect Season is an insider's inspiring story of a team whose motto--"If you're going to go, go big time or don't go at all"--inspired them to achieve their dream.


It was Friday, march 13, 1964, shortly after eleven at night. It was biting and bitter outside, and 12,244 hot and steamy basketball fans had jammed into Roberts Stadium to witness the ncaa Championship game between the Evansville College Purple Aces and the University of Akron Zips. the color red dominated the eye—shirts and sweaters, slacks and skirts, sport coats and hats. It was as if a giant balloon filled with paint had exploded at midcourt, coloring everything red from the first row to the rafters.

With my game jersey soaked with sweat, I looked up from the bench at the giant black overhead scoreboard, my night’s work over. It blazed time and score on each of its four massive sides, numbers that could signal either triumph or tragedy.

The clock ticked down to 1:00. Those in the stands, red-decked Aces fans, exhausted but adrenalized from almost forty minutes of racehorse action, stood and stomped and shouted: “Aces, Aces,” clap, clap … clap, clap, clap … “Aces, Aces,” clap, clap … clap, clap, clap…. the beat matched the pounding of my heart.

At 0:45 the Evansville College student section began to shout, “We’re number one, we’re number one,” karate chopping their right hand to each blasted word. I glanced over my shoulder and spotted my tke fraternity brothers, bug-eyed and red-faced, shouting at the top of their lungs. Most of the others packed in the stands joined in, and their combined chorus became so loud that the cops stationed at the intersections beyond the parking lot swore they heard each word despite the wind.

At the 0:30 mark, we Aces already removed from the action stood up, some of us bouncing on the balls of our feet, others standing and clapping, all with grins from ear to ear.

Reaching 0:10, the throng started the countdown. “Ten … nine … eight … seven … six” blasted out with the thunderous cadence of a John Philip Sousa . . .

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