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I was a Texas Western graduate in 1966 and attended the school all four
previous years that Don Haskins ("the Bear") coached the basketball
team. Of course, Coach Haskins came to TWC in 1961 and built his team
over 5 years, not in one year as the movie tells it. I went to every
home game in 1965-66 and remember every one as if it were yesterday. I
watched all of the away games that were televised, including all of the
games the Miners played in the NCAA tournament. Even though the
producers of "Glory Road" took considerable artistic license, the story
is mostly true. Here are some facts. The Miners blew away fourth ranked
Iowa during a holiday tournament that season. It wasn't even close as
the movie depicts it. The great comeback was against New Mexico in the
"Pit". When Hispanic guard David Palacio came in to play in the second
half, the team seemed to settle down and came from a 20 point deficit
to win in overtime. The incredibly close game, and probably best game
in America that year between the true best college teams in America was
the Regional final between third ranked TWC and fourth ranked Kansas
(not #1 Kentucky and #2 Duke in the final four semifinal), when Jo Jo
White made that last second basket in overtime with his foot on the
base line. The Miners went on to beat Kansas 81-80 in double overtime.
Then the Miners beat Utah in the first game of the final four. If white
player Jerry Armstrong hadn't defended against Utah's great Jerry
Chambers, a black player, the Miners probably wouldn't have made it to
the championship game against Kentucky. Chambers was beating every
defender badly, including Lattin, Shed, and Flournoy, until Armstrong
was put in to cover him. Chambers finished with 38 points, mostly in
the first half and was the tournament's MVP.
Coach Haskins is beloved by every El Pasoan, whether living in the city now or not, and is a true American treasure. It's wonderful for the rest of the country and the world to finally learn about "the Bear" and his great 1966 Miner team that El Paso has known and loved for 40 years. It's much more than a basketball story, it's a story about tolerance and what hard work and discipline can do through the leadership and determination of a great coach and human being.
The acting was superb, especially Josh Lucas' performance as "the Bear". His performance was spot on. The young actors playing on the team were outstanding. The early tensions shown between the black and white players in the movie did not exist according to the real players on that team. The book "Glory Road" is a must read, because it tells the true story told by "the Bear", Don Haskins, himself. I also recommend David Lattin's book "Slam Dunk to Glory". The producers should have shown the real life characters, including Coach Haskins, Pat Riley, and some of the actual 1966 players earlier in the credits, because most of the audiences leave the theater without knowing they're going to be interviewed. I thought that was the most interesting part of the movie. The movie and the story deserve a perfect 10. I hope it wins some awards.
In 1966, a coach of a girl's basketball team comes to Texas Western
College and recruits seven black players to lead them to the top.
Right from the trailers and the posters, you probably know how "Glory Road" is gonna go: an underdog NCAA basketball team must face great odds to win the championship. It's a sports movie based from true events (read: based) with a Hollywood tag plastered over its forehead that features reluctant heroes overcoming their problems and giving it all for the game. Nonetheless, the movie achieves more than that.
While this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Disney movie plot is typical (remember the Titans?), the underlying socio-political theme effectively presents the ills of racism - a problem with no easy way out of (ask Paul Haggis). The key characters of the game are dealing with discrimination and the only way they can get back is to win. Of course, a little research told me that some of the details about the real events were changed for cinematic purposes. It's completely fine by me as long as the end product justifies the means. And boy it does. The performances are also good. Josh Lucas gives a terrific performance as Don Haskins, the head coach of the team that featured the first all-black starting lineup in US NCAA history.
"Glory Road" is a formulaic yet an enjoyable film. It's a movie that gives itself away as soon as one character says "I want to play, Coach!" Still it has charm and excitement that comes from seeing it for what it is. It's predictable, yeah, but it's not much different from seeing a replay of a game where your favorite team won.
Glory Road is a very entertaining movie if you are will to overlook its
many inaccuracies. The movie would make the viewer think that Coach
Haskins came to TWC and recruited a national championship caliber team
in his first year as a collegiate coach. The truth is that Coach
Haskins had been at TWC for 3 or 4 years before the national
championship year and that there were several black players already at
TWC including Nolan Richardson. Haskins also recruited Jim Barnes
before the championship year and teams that Barnes played on may have
been better than the championship team.
The film also take too many liberties with the games that were played during the championship year. The first game of the year was not a nail biter as the film shows but almost a 50 point blowout. The film shows that Iowa led TWC most of the game. The Iowa game was never close and certainly was no buzzer beater. The fact is that TWC only played a handful of games that were close that year, most notably against New Mexico and then in the NCAA Tournament against Cincy and Kansas.
The most disappointing inaccuracy shown in the film was the final game against Kentucky. Kentucky only led briefly in the game and TWC had as much as an 11 point lead in the 2nd half. TWC was not behind when Bobby Joe Hill stole the ball twice in the first half. The two steals allowed TWC to expand its lead to 5 points and set the tone for the rest of the game. I know the producers of the movie had to have a more exciting finish to keep the audience excited but the truth is that the game was never much in doubt. If anyone has seen the actual game film that exists, you will see a poorly played offensive game by both teams and an outstanding defensive effort by TWC. The movie should have paid more time on Coach Haskins' three guard strategy to counter Kentucky's fast break offense.
Glory Road is an inspirational movie but not a very accurate movie if you know the history of TWC. See the movie if you want to watch a feel good movie but not if you are looking for sports fact.
"Glory Road" tells the true story of Don Haskins, the basketball coach
for Western Texas College, who in the mid 1960's, broke the color
barrier in the NCAA by being the first to feature a majority of black
players on his team. The movie chronicles the obstacles he and his
players faced, as well as their ultimate triumph when the team won the
national championship in 1966.
"Glory Road" worships at the altar of just about every underdog-sports-movie cliché one can imagine, yet the viewer can't help getting caught up in its story anyway. The scenes in the first half of the movie definitely have a familiar ring to them, as we see the coach first alienating his players with his hardnosed tactics, then winning them over by building comradeship and showing them how much they can accomplish when they work together as a team rather than as individuals. However, as with "Remember the Titans," "Glory Road" is more interested in examining the social background of its time period than in merely telling yet another sports-oriented David and Goliath tale. The second half of the film concentrates more on the overt racism the team members face and the surprising courage they and their coach demonstrate in confronting it (could this really be set a mere 40 years ago?). The young actors are uniformly excellent, but it is Josh Lucas as Coach Haskins who delivers the powerhouse performance here. And director James Gartner manages to keep the film moving at a fast clip, never allowing it to get bogged down in message-mongering or overt preachiness.
Almost in spite of itself, "Glory Road" turns into a genuinely inspiring story about courage and determination in the face of societal pressure and incalculable odds. And that's pretty much what sports stories, familiar though they might be, are really all about.
First off, it was just too similar to remember the titans, but I liked
that movie two. The only thing that bothered me about this movie was
that removal of some important facts.
Texas Western had three Black Players on the team already, upon Don Haskin's Arrival. Don Haskin's wasn't the sole person leading a movement to recruit black players. In their conference, they played many teams with black players.
Loyola-Chicago, while not fielding 5 black starters, fielded four of them and won the championship in 1963. So even though Texas Western was the first team to win with all black starters, other primarily black teams have won prior.
At the end of the movie, they talk about how people felt black players could never be as good as white players. Even as the movie shows, the all-American player they went against (I believe he was from University of Texas) was Black. The NCAA recognized that player as one of the best players in the sport.
Again, it was a good movie, but I felt a little let down that they manipulated the story a tad for the sake of entertainment.
The true story of the Texas Western University Miners (now called the University of Texas at El Paso) who defied all odds in 1966 by being the first NCAA basketball team to start five African-American players (led by Derek Luke of "Antwone Fisher" and Mehchad Brooks of "Desperate Housewives" fame) and ultimately winning the national championship. New coach Don Haskins (played superbly by Josh Lucas, one of the most under-rated actors in film right now) has trouble recruiting when he first arrives, but finds players in places like Detroit and Brooklyn. In the civil rights torn south though, getting African-American ball players was highly controversial and even potentially dangerous. It ends up being fitting that the team would meet up with Adolph Rupp (impressive transformation as usual for Jon Voight) and his University of Kentucky Wildcats for the championship that year as UK was one of the last major colleges to integrate its basketball team. Socially important story and highly educational for youngsters who may not be familiar with the importance of this stage in contemporary U.S. and sports history. Great sequences and styles in the tradition of sports classics like "Hoosiers", "Remember the Titans" and "Friday Night Lights". 5 stars out of 5.
Whether you are a fan of basketball or not, this film touches on so
many different topics. A show about real life, portrayed by some
dynamic actors. Oh my, Josh Lucas, the coach was amazing on film as
well as the "real coach" he portrayed. How wonderful he was to be
"color blind" when coaching the game of basketball, down in the south
where there was so much cruelty and prejudice.
This was a heartfelt movie where often, I got upset to see how cruel people would be to others, just because of the color of their skin. I am "white" though not white like this screen, lol, and raised in Los Angeles during the late 60's/70's and just never understood why people would not like you, without even knowing you just because of your looks/race.
Anyway, go see the movie, it is great! The beautiful tatyana ali who was on since a child Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I almost did not recognize her.....she did such a marvelous job acting in the role of Tina!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film on December 22nd in Indianapolis. I am one of the
judges for the Heartland Film Festival that screens films for their
Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "
explores the human
journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive
values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.
It's 1965 in Texas, and a new, young, white basketball coach, Don Haskins, gets his first chance to coach a Division I men's basketball team, Texas Western. There is a lot going against him. His past experience is coaching a women's basketball team, and the school has a poor basketball tradition, and he cannot recruit good white players. But, he is determined to succeed. And, he doesn't see color when he evaluates talent.
Forty years ago, there were virtually no black college players in the South. There was even an unwritten rule that you could play 1 black at a time at home, 2 on the road, and 3 if you were losing badly. Don Haskins recruits blacks in Northern cities, and brings them to Texas Western to play basketball and, just as important, to be students..
The road to glory is not easy, and there are many obstacles. The black players have to adjust to a strict coach who wants them to play fundamental basketball and not street basketball. The black players face subtle and overt racial prejudice. And the school administration, alumni, and student body aren't quite sure their coach is doing the right thing.
The black players, the white players, and Don Haskins display great human traits as they persevere throughout the school year and basketball season. They are courageous and even heroic in meeting great challenges. They sacrifice to achieve their goals. And, they keep their dignity at all times.
This is a "Hoosiers" with a conscience. The quality of the production and the acting is equal to "Hoosiers." And like "Hoosiers", it is based on a true story.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"We play fundamental, disciplined, defensive basketball."
Don Haskins wasn't interested in flashy, behind-the-back passes. Initially, slam dunks were even banned. Coming from the school of thought that "showboatin's nothing but insecurity," Haskins was intent on teaching a group of street-ballers the fine art of fundamentals because he knew that's what it would take to win a championship.
Haskins also had no interest in making political statements. He believed in recruiting the best raw talent he could find, regardless of race or background. His main goal was to win basketball games, and he would do that any way he could. He chose to play an all-black starting lineup against the all-white Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA championship game not so that he could champion a cause but because those were the guys he thought would give the team the best chance of winning. It just so happens that Haskins and Texas Western were able to break down a few color barriers along the way. As one of the original players said, "We didn't break down all the doors, but we opened some."
The thing that impressed me most regarding Glory Road is the authentic look and feel of the movie, particularly the championship game. Filmed with a gritty, sepia look, the viewer gets the sense that he's watching genuine footage from the '60s. The cinematography executes a great balance between colorful and drab, effectively capturing the environment of the time and location.
Production design is just as authentic, using replicas of signs and banners that were at the actual game. Those with a real eye for detail will note that even the concession cups carry the Coca-Cola design of 1966. And of course, a basketball movie set in 1966 wouldn't be complete without the super tight short shorts. Youngsters familiar only with the parachute pants that players wear these days might be in for a culture shock.
It's worth noting that the cast and crew were so intent on making the championship game as accurate as possible that they studied choreographed storyboards of each play that would be recreated for the film. Homemade video footage of the game was used to assure legitimacy.
Unfortunately, legitimacy isn't a main concern with regard to the rest of the story. Glory Road is fast, dramatic, and often funny, but it plays it loose with the facts. Some purists might be dismayed, but director Gartner admits, "We took some artistic license as this isn't intended to be a biopic."
Haskins didn't swoop into El Paso, quickly find a group of black players, and then turn them into a championship team in one year, as the movie would have you believe. He slowly built the team. He became the head coach of Texas Western in 1961 and made it to the championship in 1966. Also, the movie is peppered with racial tension among teammates and hotel ransackings that never happened. Can you say "added for dramatic effect"?
But I suggest that you not dwell too much on the factual inconsistencies. The bottom line is that Glory Road is not only entertaining, but it also gets across an important point. No, Haskins wasn't trumpeting a cause, but his desire to win at any cost went a long way in changing the national perception of black athletes and helped kick start the desegregation of college sports.
If you agree with Haskins' "Decent don't cut it with me" mantra then check out Glory Road. It's not just decent; it's a really good mixture of fact and fiction that tells one of the most important, and least known, stories in sports history.
Make sure you stay through the closing credits.
This 2 hour movie is pretty lackluster for the first 50 minutes or so.
Then it picks up and the intensity builds and builds right to the end.
It's simply one of those great sports movie that's really well done.
This is the story based on one of the most historic series of games in basketball history. A "minor" coach hired is hired to coach an equally "minor" Texas basketball team - but decides to do something different. He hires black players to play ... the year is 1965.
Because it's based on true events it has an immediate interest value. The fact that it deals with the colorblind "win or lose" dictum of sports coupled with racial tensions makes it all the more potentially interesting.
The movie delivers the goods: great performances and a lot of sports suspense. However, you have give it chance - the first one forth of the show is kind of slow.
For basketball fans and general audiences alike - this is a good movie worth checking out.
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