Winston Breaks Oklahoma City Curse

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By Mark Janssen, Official Sports Report

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Darryl Winston did the unthinkable Thursday. He actually stopped his car and walked on Oklahoma City soil.

"I made a promise to myself that I would never enter this city again after the Marquette game," laughed the former Wildcat. "When I think of Oklahoma City, I think of nothing but terrible things. I normally drive around this city so I don't have to go through it, but I just had to see Kansas State play. I decided to end the curse of Marquette in Oklahoma City."

This is the first time a K-State basketball team has played an NCAA Tournament game in OKC since March 17, 1977, when the Wildcats played in the Midwest Regional at the OKC Myriad.

After blasting Providence, 87-80, in the first round, No. 16 K-State faced Al McGuire's No. 7 Marquette team for the right to advance to the Final Four.

Down three, with six seconds remaining, K-State thought it had earned the right to tie the game.

"Mike Evans shot one from the left corner that I tipped in, but I was fouled by Bo Ellis," Winston reflected. "At the time a 'tip' was not considered a controlled shot, so they waved it off and I had to shoot a one-and-one. I made them both, but we still trailed by one when I should have had the chance for a three-point play to tie the game."

K-State would steal the ball and heave a desperation shot, but the prayer was not answered and Marquette won the game, 67-66, snapping an 11-game Wildcat win streak.

"You talk about a coach giving an official a stare," Winston laughed. "Coach (Jack) Hartman had a stare that would scare Frank Martin."

It was the very next season that the NCAA made the "Winston Rule" that allowed "tips" to be considered shots.

That 1977 K-State team was the last to win a Big 8/12 championship, and they did so with a front line of three 6-foot-5 Wildcats in Winston, the center, plus forwards Curtis Redding and Larry Dassie.

"We were small, but we could jump," said Winston, who ranks today as KSU's No. 37 all-time scorer. "I remember the Providence players saying we had to be taller than 6-5 because all they saw were butts and sneakers when we jumped."

It was Winston's second near miss of a Final Four as when a sophomore, Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans led the Wildcats to the East Regional where it defeated Providence and Boston College, but then lost to Syracuse in overtime, 95-87.

 Winston currently lives in Wichita where he heads the Salvation Army's Biddy basketball program of 1,000 4- to 12-year-olds.

After his graduation in 1977, Winston joined the Jack Hartman coaching staff from 1979-80 and 1982-86. In 1985 he served as interim head coach when Hartman suffered a mid-season heart attack.

While just 14-14 that season with a 5-9 Big 8 record, Winston's personal high was defeating Norm Stewart's Missouri Tigers, 69-54, in the season finale.

"I was from East St. Louis and he didn't recruit me, which really made me mad," said Winston. "To beat one of his teams as a coach was very satisfying."

Of his playing days in Ahearn Field House, Winston said, "Those are moments I will cherish. I will cherish the fans, I will cherish the teams I played on, and I'll always remember the look of fear with the teams that came in to play us."

With his playing days for Hartman, Winston said with a chuckle, "We always thought we were the worst team in America. We never knew we were any good even when we were playing Syracuse and Marquette for the right to go to the Final Four. Hartman always motivated us by making us think we couldn't even beat Washburn."

Since K-State, Winston coached as an assistant at St. Mary's (California) and Washington, was head coach at Division II Laney College in Oakland until the 1989 earthquake swallowed a portion of the school, and then taught in the Berkley school system. After a stint in Topeka with the Parks and Recreation Commission, he moved to Wichita two years ago heading the Biddy program.

"I've probably never made more of an impact on young lives than I am today," said Winston.