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Odom family tied to college basketball’s biggest upsets — UMBC and Chaminade


    UMBC head coach Ryan Odom called out to his team during Friday’s game against Virginia.

BOISE, Idaho >> Dave Odom sat in the stands as his son, Ryan, and the history-making UMBC Retrievers took down a giant.

Thirty-six years earlier, Dave Odom witnessed another David conquer a Goliath from a bench in Hawaii.

Father and son, linked to the two biggest upsets in the annuals of college basketball — from opposite sides of history.

“It’s a story that writers couldn’t dream up to write. You just couldn’t write it. If you did, nobody would buy it because they wouldn’t think it’s true,” Dave Odom said today. “For all time, the Odoms, as a family, will be linked to the two biggest upsets in college basketball.”

The first came in 1982. Odom was an assistant to Terry Holland when Virginia made a quick stopover in Hawaii to face NAIA Chaminade, a game scheduled to break up a trip back from to games in Japan.

The Cavaliers were the No. 1 team in the country and had national player of the year Ralph Sampson, so it figured to be a walkover.

Instead, the Silverswords knocked off Virginia 77-72, pulling off what has long been considered the greatest upset in college basketball history.

Ryan Odom and Maryland-Baltimore County topped it Friday night in Charlotte.

Playing with the fearlessness of a team with nothing to lose, the Retrievers shook the college basketball world and busted brackets across the country by routing top overall seed Virginia 74-54. No. 1 seeds had been 135-0 against No. 16 seeds before UMBC’s breakthrough, immediately making it one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

“The irony of me sitting on the bench and watching the Virginia-Chaminade game and being so sick after that game, and then the game last night with an opposite outcome is amazing,” said Dave Odom, the former head coach at Wake Forest and South Carolina. “It was a sudden surge of euphoria. My tear bank — I assume humans have tear banks — emptied in about 30 seconds.”

When asked about his father’s reaction to the game, Ryan Odom joked that he would “probably tell me everything I did wrong tomorrow.”

Of course, dad did.

“The list is very short. Wasn’t much wrong,” Dave Odom said. “But we did talk about a couple, three things, but the list was not very long, I can tell you that. It was one of those nights where you take what you get, smile and move on.”

The buzz from the Retrievers’ upset reverberated through the Spectrum Center, TV sets across America and beyond. The sports world had been waiting for a 16-over-1 upset, a feat rarer than a 59 in golf, a 900 series in bowling, a perfect season in college basketball.

The Retrievers pulled off the seemingly impossible and the party lasted nearly all night.

“We shared our time with fans. You’ve got to remember UMBC as a university and as a basketball program has never experienced what they experienced last night and it wouldn’t have been right to run off a quarter of yourself by yourself,” Dave Odom said. “A good portion of last night was spent interacting with the fans. They players were sent straight to bed because they need their rest, but I think the party at the hotel went until right at 4:30.”

Maybe now Odom can get some peace in this whole butt-end-of-an-upset thing.

As the chairman of the Maui Invitational, he’s reminded every year of Chaminade’s victory way back when. The Silverswords are now compete in NCAA Division II.

“Every time I go to Hawaii, they introduce me to speak to a group and say, ‘he’s one of the coaches who was on the Virginia staff who lost to our very own Chaminade.’ And I get up right behind them and say, ‘How many times must one man lose one game?’ The answer is every time they introduce you.”

Folks will be asking Ryan Odom about his monumental victory forever, too.

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