Orange Watch: A jog down Syracuse Athletics Memory Lane — Vol. I

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim speaks to reporters during ACC Media Day in Charlotte. Mandatory Photo Credit: Brad Bierman, The Juice Online.

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).

» Related: What will it take to turn Syracuse basketball around?

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:

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.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.