Former Alabama forward Charles “Boonie” Russell was with his old teammates celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1974 SEC championship during the Alabama-Auburn game earlier this year when Russell was approached by a woman from the stands.
The 6-foot-4 Russell helped Alabama to a 22-4 record in 1974 and it was the first of three consecutive SEC championships the Crimson Tide won under former head coach C.M. Newton.
But according to this story from Tommy Deas of the Tuscaloosa News, Russell didn’t know why 76-year-old Alabama fan Martha Ann Wyatt was approaching him.
“I have something that belongs to you,” Martha Ann Wyatt said.
Russell didn’t know what to say. He had no idea what she was talking about.
“I have your SEC championship ring,” she said. “I want you to have it back. I want to give it to you.”
Russell hadn’t seen that ring since the late 1970s, when he loaned it to a friend who needed money. The plan was that the friend would pawn it, then buy it back out of hock and return it.
Before that happened, Russell left the country to begin a 20-year career playing basketball in South and Central America. By the time he returned, the ring was long gone.
Russell soon made plans with Wyatt to get his SEC championship ring back. The ring hadn’t even been on Russell’s mind for many years.
“To be honest about it, I had just totally forgotten about it,” Russell said to Deas. “It was like it didn’t even exist anymore.”
Wyatt, a collector of Alabama sports memorabilia, acquired the ring for $50 when a friend spotted the ring at a pawn shop. She had displayed the ring in a case at her home since then and the ring included Russell’s number — 32 — and last name.
When Russell came back for the reunion, season-ticket holder Wyatt exchanged information with him so he could get his long-lost SEC championship ring.
Russell finally got the ring back last week from Wyatt’s home on his 61st birthday and the duo celebrated with cake and homemade vanilla ice cream to complete a really cool and unique story.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: