Madness Milwaukee-style

Part I: NCAA stunner had ties to Bucks all-time greats

Bob Dandridge
Bob Dandridge played at Norfolk State during one of the most successful stretches in the program’s history.

Norfolk State University pulled off one of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s all-time stunners with its 86-84 victory over the University of Missouri in the West Regional in Omaha, Neb., on Friday.

The Spartans became only the fifth 15th seed in tourney history to defeat a second seed during the teams’ second-round meeting in the West Regional. They were joined in that exclusive group later that day when Lehigh toppled Duke in the South Regional at Greensboro, N.C.

Norfolk State’s upset will not only go down as one of the most dramatic ones in NCAA tourney annals, but featured participants with ties to two members of the Milwaukee Bucks’ 20-man 40th anniversary team. And both of them, coincidentally, were born in Richmond, Va.

Norfolk State, which was a 22-point underdog heading into its NCAA tournament debut Friday, only became an NCAA Division I program 15 years ago.

Prior to that, the Spartans played in the Division-II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and built a rich tradition.

One of the players chiefly responsible for building the foundation for that tradition was Bob Dandridge, who went on to become a starting forward on the Bucks’ 1971 NBA championship team.

Dandridge played at Norfolk State during one of the most successful stretches in the program’s history. The Spartans won the CIAA title in 1968 with a 25-2 record before losing in the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament. The following year, they went 21-4 and lost in the first round of the D-II tourney.

Dandridge went off for 50 points –a team record that still stands – in a 1969 CIAA tournament game against Virginia Union. He also set a team record with 114 points in that tournament. The slender, sharp-shooting forward set a Norfolk State record as a senior, averaging 32 points per game.

Despite his impressive credentials, Dandridge wasn’t even the first player from Norfolk State who was selected in the 1969 NBA Draft. That honor went to Charles Bonaparte, who was chosen with the sixth pick of the third round by the San Diego Rockets.

Milwaukee made Dandridge the second pick in the fourth round of the draft, and Rick “Pee Wee” Kirkland became Norfolk State’s third selection in the ’69 draft when the Chicago Bulls took him with the fourth choice in the 13th round.

Dandridge, though, far exceeded the basketball exploits of both of his college teammates as a professional, He played 13 NBA seasons, scored 17,227 points, won two championship rings and was as a four-time All-Star.

Not one of the forwards drafted ahead of Dandridge – guys like Simmie Hill, Kenny Spain, Ed Siudut, Wally Anderzunas, Lamar “Helicopter” Green and Eddie Mast – even came close to matching the pro resume of the man Bucks announcer Eddie Doucette nicknamed “The Greyhound.”

In fact, Dandridge scored more regular-season NBA points than Terry Driscoll, Bobby “Bingo” Smith, Bob Portman and Bud Ogden -- the first four forwards drafted that season -- scored between them.

Dandridge played 618 of his career NBA games for Milwaukee over the course of nine seasons. That total ranks him third in franchise history behind Junior Bridgeman and current Bucks assistant coach Sidney Moncrief.

Dandridge’s name is all over the Bucks’ career leaders list. He ranks fifth in points with 11,478, 10th in scoring average (18.6 ppg), second in field goals made (4,826), sixth in free throws made (1,826), second in rebounds (4,497), eighth in assists (1.956) and last but not least, first in minutes played (22,094).

Dandridge’s final season in a Milwaukee uniform was 1981-82.

Just one year later, the Bucks used their first-round draft pick – the 20th overall selection – to select Paul Pressey out of Tulsa University.

Last weekend, Pressey was much more than just a casual observer during the Norfolk State/Missouri NCAA tourney game because two of his sons were playing for the Tigers.

Phil Pressey, a 5-foor-10-inch, 175-pound sophomore point guard, sank a 3-pointer to cut Mizzou’s deficit to one with 10.1 seconds left before Norfolk State missed three of its next four free throws.

Mizzou got one last shot at dodging the upset bullet, but Pressey missed another trey at the buzzer. He scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and totaled a team-high eight assists, but his Tigers were out of the tournament, having finished 30-5.

Phil’s brother, Matt, a 6-2, 195 senior guard, started in the Missouri backcourt alongside his brother and finished with six points in 18 minutes of action.

Matt Pressey played his prep basketball at Cushing Academy of Ashburnham, Mass.,  and became an honorable mention McDonald’s All-American as a senior after averaging 17.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.9 steals a game.

He played two seasons at Navarro College of Corsicana, Texas, averaging 17.5 points and 4.2 rebounds as a sophomore in leading the team to a 30-7 mark and a fourth place finish in the NJCAA Tournament.

Phil Pressey began his prep career at Cushing Academy and finished at Dallas Episcopal. He developed into one of the nation’s premier point guards and was rated a consensus Top 50 recruit nationally. In his senior season at Dallas Episcopal, he averaged 20.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists and was ranked the No. 16 recruit nationally by 2KSports.

The Pressey brothers chose Missouri as their college destination to play for Coach Mike Anderson, whose association with Paul Pressey dated back to their junior college days.

Pressey played for Western Texas College and Anderson for Jefferson (Ala.) State College in the National Junior College Athletic Association championship game, which Western Texas won.

They became teammates and roommates playing for Nolan Richardson at Tulsa University, where they helped the Golden Hurricane win the 1981 National Invitation Tournament championship.

Anderson went on to become Richardson’s lead assistant coach at the University of Arkansas before moving up to the head-coaching ranks and rebuilding the programs at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Missouri.

Anderson left Mizzou following the 2010-11 season to become head coach at Arkansas.

Paul Pressey, meanwhile, went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA with Milwaukee, San Antonio and Golden State. He averaged 10.6 points, 5.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team following the 1984-85 season.

Pressey spent eight of his NBA seasons in Milwaukee, averaging 11.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds as the “point  forward” in Bucks Head Coach Don Nelson’s offense. Pressey was one of the mainstays of Bucks teams that won 50 or more games for six consecutive seasons spanning 1982 through 1987, winning  five Central Division titles during that stretch.

Pressey’s name, like Dandridge’s, is a prominent one on Milwaukee’s franchise leader chart. He ranks 13th in points (6,906), ninth in free throws made (1,716), sixth in games played (580), 10th in blocked shots (372), second in steals (894) and first in assists (3,272).

Pressey joined Head Coach Byron Scott’s Cleveland’s coaching staff this season following three seasons as a Scott assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Celtics as a member of Doc Rivers’ staff from 2004-06 and served as advance scout during the 2006-07 campaign.  Pressey also spent time with the Orlando Magic (2000-04), Golden State Warriors (1992-94) and the San Antonio Spurs (1994-2000) as an assistant coach, helping the Spurs win their first- NBA championship in 1999.

Prior to the 1992-93 season, Pressey was named an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, but after a rash of injuries he was forced back to the court and appeared in 18 games. He spent the entire 1993-94 season as an assistant coach with the Warriors.

Visit again soon to read about more Bucks NCAA tournament connections.