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Feb. 16, 2010
The 2010 ACC Basketball Legends class is a group of 12 former standout players - one from each ACC school - who will be honored during the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament. TheACC.com will feature two members of the ACC Legends Class each week during the six weeks prior to the tournament.
The annual ACC Legends Brunch will be held on Saturday, March 13 beginning at 10 a.m. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, the ACC Men's Basketball Legends Brunch will be held in the in the Guilford Ballroom of the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel.
Georgia Tech’s Bobby Cremins was almost as tired as his basketball team.
A pair of tight, tense, white-knuckle wins over Tech’s longtime nemesis Virginia and Duke on successive days in the 1985 ACC Basketball Tournament had taken its toll on the Jackets, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Now Cremins’ young program was facing its biggest test of all—facing North Carolina and its legendary coach Dean Smith on Championship Sunday.
Due to injury, Tech had played the tournament shorthanded. Nicknamed the “Thin Gold Line”, the Jackets would face UNC with just eight able bodies and Cremins had been forced to play his five starters way too many minutes. Facing its third contest in 48 hours, he feared the fatigue factor would come into play against a deeper Tar Heel team.
Still, the silver-haired mentor was seeking to wring the last ounce of energy from his players as he filled out his Tournament MVP ballot.
After scribbling down a name, he asked that it be shown to Bruce Dalrymple before it was turned in to Skeeter Francis, the ACC’s longtime media relations director.
Dalrymple, a 6-4 sophomore guard from New York City, took brief notice of the ballot and then quickly went back to preparing for the biggest game of his, and Tech’s ACC career.
The name Cremins had written on the ballot? Not of Tech’s star guard Mark Price, or its mercurial big man John Salley, but of Dalrymple.
“That meant a great deal to me,” said Dalrymple earlier this year. “Bobby always believed in me. He always knew how to get my attention. He knew how to motivate me. It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t voted the MVP, it was enough that Coach thought so.”
On a team led by the All-America Price and the seven-foot Salley, the choice might have seemed out of place, but Dalrymple had more than proven his worth with the versatile play that was his trademark.
“My role was to be an accent to Mark Price, to John Salley, to Duane Ferrell,” said Dalrymple. “My job was to do whatever was needed in the game to win. If Coach needed me to play defense against a particular player, I played defense. If he needed me to make sure the ball moved around to Mark or John, I did that. If he needed me to shoot and score, I did that. If he needed me to rebound, that’s what I did, whatever the team needed to win.”
Throughout his career which stretched from the 1984 through the 1987 seasons, Dalrymple quite often performed his role to perfection, becoming the first player in ACC history to record a career combination of at least 1,500 points, 700 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. The 1984 ACC Rookie of the Year, he earned second-team All-ACC honors in 1986 and was named first-team All-ACC Tournament in 1985. He is also one of just 19 ACC players to have recorded a triple-double in a game.
Though standing just 6-4, and playing away from the basket at guard, he is probably best known for his ability to rebound. His total of 744 career rebounds is still the most of any backcourtman in ACC history.
“When I was a kid growing up and playing basketball on the streets of New York, I didn’t know much about the game, but I knew you had to get the ball.” said Dalyrmple. “You play outside, the best thing is to get the ball and put it back in close. You learn early that the only way to win was to go in and out-rebound. I started out not learning how to shoot jumpers, but to go in and get the ball and put it back in the basket. Rebounding is just timing, position and desire. That was my early training.”
Growing up in Harlem, a great deal of Dalrymple’s early training occurred as a member of the famed Riverside Church AAU basketball program of Ernie Lorch, one of two significant father figures in his life.
“Ernie really pushed me to do some of the things I’ve been able to do,” said Dalrymple. “He showed me how to make my dreams come true. He did that for many, many young kids.”
That kind of training came in handy in Tech’s first two 1985 ACC Tournament games, as he had played near flawlessly. The New Yorker shot 70 percent from the floor while averaging 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4 steals against the Cavaliers and Blue Devils, while committing just three turnovers with an impressive 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
But the road to Tech’s first ACC Title would not be an easy one. Dead-legged, and facing an inspired UNC team, the Jackets trailed at the half. Dalrymple had not played well, which elicited a bit more motivation from Cremins in the locker room at halftime.
But behind Dalrymple, Price and Salley as well as Yvon Joseph and Scott Petway, Tech slowly clawed back, claiming its first lead with just 52 seconds remaining.
Now, with the clock running down, and the Jackets clinging to a three-point advantage, North Carolina inbounded the ball and headed goal-ward. It was now that Dalrymple made the final, of his many big plays of the tournament, stealing a pass from UNC’s Kenny Smith (ironically a former teammate at Riverside) and holding it until he was fouled. His final two free throws, with two seconds remaining, put the finishing touches on Tech’s 57-54 victory and its first ACC Basketball Championship.
The play was pure Dalrymple.
“Coming out of the huddle, we knew we needed to make a stop,” said Dalrymple. (Assistant Coach) Perry Clark told me to look for the sideline break that Carolina liked to run after a made free throw. I knew I had to make the play, and was fortunate the pass was thrown just where we expected.”
Later, in the post-game interview room, Cremins acknowledged that his faith in Dalrymple had been well-placed.
“I know Mark Price got the MVP,” said Cremins. “But I wish Bruce could share it with him. The kid played incredible basketball in the second half. I’m just so proud of him. He had a bad first half. There was something wrong. He was tired. He had played two of the most fantastic games (against Virginia and Duke) that I’ve seen in a long time and I just didn’t want him to end it like this. But the kid has tremendous determination and he didn’t quit on me.”
Dalrymple would help lead Tech to many other big victories in his career which included 88 wins against just 39 losses, one berth in the NIT and three trips to the NCAA Tournament, but none was more important than that first ACC Basketball Title, which certified Tech as a legitimate ACC power.
The consummate team player, Darymple would not quit on his teammates or his coach. Years later, that same determination would be displayed when he received his degree in textile engineering from Tech.
“The biggest influence in my life was Bobby,” said Dalrymple. “He was the guy who believed in me the most. If it wasn’t for Coach Cremins, I would have never finished at Tech. It’s all because of Coach that I accomplished what I have in life.”
Now 25 years later, the lessons he learned on the basketball floor have paid dividends in life.
He lives in McDonough, Georgia, a southern suburb of Atlanta and owns an asbestos abatement restoration company, named, appropriately enough, the Dalrymple Company. He is currently involved in a major restoration project in Rochester, N.Y., removing asbestos from a mall.
“I love the job because it is a new challenge everyday as each job is very different,” said Dalrymple, who was also heavily involved in work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and has started a second company “Project Cost Solutions” which partners with minority engineering firms.
He is also the father of four daughters, two of whom are following in his footsteps on the hard court in Taylor, a 6-1 post player for Gulf Coast Community College, and McKinze, a senior guard for Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga. His oldest, Ashley, is 22 and working in Atlanta, while his youngest, Grace, is just three years old.
Though well-removed now from his career in basketball, he still keeps up with his teammates – spending time together with them at Tech for a reunion this past January.
“It was fun being with Mark, John, Duane and all of the guys again,” said Dalrymple. “Though we’ve gone our separate ways, we will always have this bond. Back then, we played so hard and the games meant so much to us. We didn’t see what everyone else saw. We just never believed that anyone could beat us. That ACC Tournament was the building block of the Tech program.
“It allowed us to give something to Coach Cremins that he will always have with him. I love my coach. I love him to this day. He became the father that all of us didn’t have when we were at Tech. He understood what we went through and he was always there for all of us. He was the best friend I had. He still is.”