Item: During the mammoth national fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent hold on sports competition, we’ll periodically take a look at past moments that stand out from our 45 seasons following/covering the Orange. In this installment, a look at ‘Cuse basketball in circa-1970s Manley Field House and the music that made memories.
Before there was the Dome Ranger, there was the Lone Ranger.
The basketball atmosphere at Manley Field House was crazy, but the younger generations of current Orange fans can’t, unfortunately, appreciate it as a precursor to the Dome’s mammoth influence from 1980-present.
After all, Syracuse’s former homecourt didn’t earn the nickname “Manley Zoo” for a compact student section that minded its manners as it taunted the opposition in games first played on a court laid over dirt, then later a tartan court that was switched in position to add more seating capacity.
It’s reputation as place where the opposition was tormented endlessly quickly spread far and wide, in both the old independent and ECAC days of SU basketball to the Big East’s debut in the crossover of the Roy Danforth-to-Jim Boeheim eras (1970-1980).
On many cold winter nights, some 8,000 plus (expanded to 9,500 in 1977) would cram inside making for cozy confines. Some 20 minutes before tipoff with a rising roar of the crowd, the team took to the court for warmups to thunderous cheers and the William Tell Overture, or Lone Ranger theme song, fading into the pulsating contemporary Isaac Hayes cover from the 1971 movie “Shaft.”
What a 1960s and 70s soundtrack of R&B, soul, pop, and rock it was during pregame, including:
- The J.J. Jackson 1966 ballad “But It’s Alright.”
- The Four Tops 1967 hit “Reach Out (I’ll Be There).”
- 1971’s “What You See is What You Get” from The Dramatics.
- From crooner Jackie Brown 1967’s ”Higher and Higher.”
- One-hit wonder, Friend & Lover’s 1967 “Reach Out in the Darkness.”
- Chic’s 1978 disco hit “Le Freak.”
- The Isley Brothers 1973 remake of their original 1964 “(Who’s) That Lady.”
- The classic “Car Wash” from Rose Royce recorded in 1975.
- The Rolling Stones 1971 “Brown Sugar.”
In our next installment down Syracuse Athletics Memory Lane, we’ll take a look at the first two Carrier Classics played at Manley Field House.