Glory Road – Don Haskins’ Texas Western Miners
Glory Road is based on the true story of Don Haskins and his 1965-1966 Texas Western Miners basketball team that won the NCAA Championship title. The significance of the victory is that it was the first team in history to start 5 black players in a championship game and furthermore, the only 7 players who played for Texas Western in the entire game were all black – none of the white players on the team saw court time.
After the Miners’ all-black lineup upset the Wildcats all-white lineup, Haskins was credited for revolutionizing college basketball and breaking down segregation barriers. This article from 2003 describes how black players were perceived at that time and why every team needed at least one white player on the court in order to win. Perry Wallace, who became the first black basketball player in the SEC in 1966, had this to say:
“`Nigger ball’ they used to call it. Whites then thought that if you put five blacks on the court at the same time, they would somehow revert to their native impulses.”
In this chat session, Don Haskins answers questions about how he viewed the events leading up to, and after, that ’65-’66 Championship season. March 19, 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of Texas Western’s historically significant victory; author Michael Bohn recounts the details of that day and that season.
ESPN has compiled a nice collection of black and white photos from that game.
In addition to the movie “Glory Road”, there are a couple of student-made documentaries available. The first is a 10-minute documentary titled “The Emancipation Proclamation of 1966” and won the 2012 Maryland State History Day competition:
The second is a 50-minute documentary titled “And The Wheels Turned”, produced by a UTEP student in 2010 about the Championship game.
In 2010, UTEP officially created a website in honor of that 1965-66 team. The site is a collection of photos, stories, and interviews of the players and Coach Haskins. In the video below, the players on the team talk about one another, as teammates and as friends:
Real Life, Reel Differences
- Texas Western was the real name of the college back in 1965. Officially, it was known as Texas Western College of the University of Texas. In 1966, the Board of Regents approved a temporary name change to Texas Western College of The University of Texas at El Paso and it officially became The University of Texas at El Paso, or UTEP, in 1967.
- In the movie, coach Don Haskins is a girls high school basketball coach just before getting the job at Texas Western University (now Texas-El Paso or UTEP). In real life, Haskins not only coached girls’ hoops, but also football and boys’ basketball teams at a couple of small high schools in Texas in the mid-1950s.
- In the movie, Haskins arrives at Texas Western at the start of the 1965-66 season. In real life, his first season at Texas Western was in 1961, where the team went 18-6.
- In the movie, the Miners are portrayed as a team that wouldn’t go anywhere. It’s true that in real life, Haskins’ team did not gain much attention before the start of the 1965-66 seasons, but they were an accomplished team. They made it to the postseason the three previous seasons (19-7 in 1962-63, 25-3 in 1963-64, and 16-9 in 1945-1965), including two trips to the NCAA Tournament.
- In the movie, Haskins is breaking barriers just by recruiting black basketball players. In reality, Texas Western had been recruiting African-Americans since 1956, when the school signed Charlie Brown. According to a 1991 Sports Illustrated story, when Haskins got to El Paso, “a black guard named Nolan Richardson was waiting to unload Haskins’ U-Haul for him.” Haskins credits his assistant coach, Moe Iba, with recruiting most of the 1965-66 squad.
- In the movie, Haskins first recruit is Bobby Joe Hill, who he discovered at a summer camp just before the start of school. In reality, there were two players named Bobby Joe Hill. Haskins brought a Bobby Joe with him when he arrived at Texas Western in 1961, but it was a different Bobby Joe that played in the Final Four.
- In the movie, Coach Haskins goes to Gary, IA, to recruit Harry Flournoy and Orsten Artis. The scene shows Haskins following alongside the boys in his car and the boys running off, scared of being followed by white men. When Flournoy gets home, he finds Haskins already in his house talking to his mother, drinking coffee and eating apple pie. In real life, Haskins simply asked Flournoy if he could meet his mother – there was no running away.
- In the movie, all the new recruits come in at the start of the ’65-66 season, most of them as strangers, and it takes them a while to get to know each other. In reality, the key members of the team were on the 1964-65 team that went 16-9 and reached the NIT.
- In the movie, the Miners return to their hotel room after a road game and find one of the rooms ransacked and a large, blood-red warning on the wall: “Coons go home.” In reality, the team was refused service at some restaurants and turned away from at least one hotel, but no evidence of the ransacked room with derogatory writing on the wall.
- There is also a scene where Mary shows Don a threat letter and tells him that it’s one of many that they’ve gotten. In reality, Haskins was getting hate mail early in his TW coaching career. Andy Stoglin, a black player at TW, is quoted by Frank Fitzgerald in And the Walls Came Tumbling Down that the coach had shown him hate mail way back in ’62. “I started reading them,” said Stoglin. “They were letters from whites saying, ‘You’re playing too many n——‘ and that sort of thing.” Haskins himself told SI in 1991 that before a game against SMU in Dallas, “A guy called me up and said he’d shoot me ‘if the n—— step on the floor'”.
- In the movie, Texas Western suffers its first and only loss, 74-72 against Seattle University, in the last game of the regular season, Haskins blasts the team, and Bobby Joe retorts by saying, “Maybe those crackers are getting to us.” He’s staring right at Armstrong, who is white, and adds, “None of you white boys get it.” Armstrong retorts, “I’m white, and you’ve never seen past that. You think it’s easy being on this team? We’re the minority!” In reality, no such argument occurred between teammates. Dave Palacio, a sophomore reserve guard, said, “It was friendship, pure friendship. I don’t remember a single instance of race being an issue or a problem among us.”
- In the movie, Haskins wants to make a statement in the Finals, saying “Tonight I’ve made a decision … five starters, two subs, 40 minutes, seven players. I’m only going to play the black players in the final game tomorrow.” In reality, the seven black players were also the team’s best players. Furthermore, Texas Western had used a starting rotation of five black players at various times during the season, so it wasn’t a new tactic as implied in the movie.
- In the movie, it is implied that Rupp has a clear disdain for Haskins’ team of mostly black players and that he clearly believes his all-white team is superior. It is also implied that a team with an all-black lineup can’t win. In reality, there are differing opinions on For the players on both teams, the black-white matchup was not something that crossed their minds. Even Haskins said he hadn’t thought about it much: “It wasn’t the first [all] black team we played with,” he said. “There were others. I never thought a thing about it, but after we won the title with five black guys, everybody made a big deal about it.” His decision to go with those 5 players in the starting lineup was strategic – three guards and two big men to counter Kentucky’s small but fast team. After the game, Haskins told the El Paso Times “One thing I want to say is that the Kentucky players could not have been more gracious after the game.” Pat Riley, who starred on that 1965-1966 Kentucky Wildcats team, stated in the interview below that he never saw that game as being about race. “It wasn’t until history started to talk about this game in that context that we realized that we were part of something that was bigger than just five blacks and five whites.”
- The movie accurately portrayed several sequences from the Miners’ basketball games. For instance, in the Midwest Regional Final against the Kansas Jayhawks, it looks Jo Jo White hits a long jumper in the first overtime to win the game for Kansas, but the referee says White’s foot was on the line, therefore he was out of bounds. Texas Western goes on to win in the second overtime. This play really did happen, and TW went on to defeat the Jayhawks 81-80. Watch the video below for the footage.
- In the Finals against Kentucky, David Lattin has a huge slam dunk for the Miners’ first basket. Later, Bobby Joe Hill converts back-to-back steals into 2 easy baskets. These plays did really happen in the game. The Wildcats had a 1-0 lead after Pat Riley made 1 of 2 free throws and on the next possession, Hill passes the ball to Lattin underneath the basket and Lattin slams down the ball. “(Lattin) said, `Take that you white honky,'” recalled Riley. Later, with the score 10-9 Miners, Hill steals the ball at midcourt from Wildcats guard Tommy Kron and goes in for a layup to increase the Miners’ lead to 12-9. When the Wildcats bring the ball up on the ensuing possession, Hill again steals the ball, this time from Louie Dampier, and converts another layup and a 14-9 lead. Take a look at the video below for the actual footage of these plays, as well as commentary from Lattin and Hill.
Where Are They Now?
Donald Lee Haskins (March 14, 1930 – September 7, 2008), nicknamed “The Bear”, was an American collegiate player and basketball coach. He played for three years under Coach Henry Iba at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University). He was the head coach at Texas Western College (renamed the University of Texas at El Paso in 1967) from 1961 to 1999, including the 1966 season when his team won the NCAA Tournament over the University of Kentucky Wildcats, coached by Adolph Rupp.
In his time at Texas Western/UTEP, he compiled a 719–353 record with only five losing seasons. He won 14 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championships and four WAC tournament titles, had fourteen NCAA tournament berths and made seven trips to the NIT. Haskins led UTEP to 17 seasons with 20+ wins and served as an assistant coach under Hank Iba in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 as a basketball coach. In 1997 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. His 1966 team was inducted in its entirety by the same Hall of Fame on September 7, 2007.
Although Haskins was never able to duplicate his 1966 success, he is nonetheless regarded as an important figure in basketball history. Among the players he coached at UTEP over the years were future NBA all-stars Nate Archibald, Tim Hardaway, and Antonio Davis. Other UTEP alums moving to the NBA included Marlon Maxey and Greg Foster. He was also a mentor for several future coaches, including Nolan Richardson and Tim Floyd. The LA Times published a nice article about Haskins upon his death on September 7, 2008. He is survived by his wife, Mary; three sons, Brent, David and Steve and three grandsons, John Paul, Cameron and Dominick. A fourth son, Mark, died in 1994. Haskins is buried at the Memory Gardens of the Valley in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. A street is named after him in El Paso’s East Side. The arena he coached in is now known as “The Don Haskins Center”.
Tyrone Bobby Joe Hill was one of the five black players that started in the Finals game against Kentucky. As Don Haskins revealed in an interview chat session, he was the 2nd Bobby Joe Hill that played for Haskins, but certainly the more accomplished one. Hill was a 5’10” point guard from Michigan whose highlight was the back-to-back steals which he converted into easy lay-ups to give Texas Western an early 14-9 lead in the finals.
In all, Hill played in 63 games in his college career; unfortunately, he only played in eight games his Senior year (1966-67) due to a leg injury. Hill never completed his eligibility at Texas Western, choosing to go to work instead. He stayed in El Paso, married his college sweetheart, and worked for El Paso Natural Gas Company for 30 years. In 1996, he retired as an Executive Senior Buyer after 30 years. He died in 2002 of a myocardial infarction at age 59; he was the first player from that team to pass away.
The video clip below contains a quick interview with Haskins in which the coach believes Hill could have played in the NBA if he wanted to, as well as with Bobby Joe who confirmed that basketball was not all-consuming to him.
David Lattin, was known as “Bid Daddy” or “Daddy D”, was listed as 6’6″ and 225 pounds during his playing days. He was also one of the five black players that started in the Finals. Lattin actually started his collegiate career at Tennessee State in 1964 before transferring, citing the lack of basketball competition. He received a full scholarship to attend Texas Western College in 1965 and played for Haskins until the 1967 season.
He was selected by the San Francisco Warriors 10th overall in the 1967 NBA draft. After one year, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. He also played for the Pittsburgh Condors and the Memphis Tams, before ending his career with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1973 to 1976.
Returning to school, Lattin earned his B.S. degree in Business Administration and started several successful business ventures. Lattin lives in Houston, Texas, working for Republic Beverage. He has several other ongoing projects, including real estate, pharmacy, car rental, and home health businesses. Still a tremendous athlete, David bikes 100 miles a week and participates in a 200-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin every year.
In 2007, he published a book titled Slam Dunk to Glory which details the 1966 Miners and his life.
Orsten Artis is the third black player who started against Kentucky in the Finals. He was a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior from Gary, Indiana, scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the championship game. Artis retired after a long career as a detective with the Gary, Indiana police department. He was elected into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Harry Flournoy, like Orsten, was also from Gary, Indiana. He was the fourth black player who started in the championship game, but only played for six minutes because he twisted his left knee. Despite playing only a short amount of time, he is forever remembered on the cover of Sports Illustrated, grabbing a rebound over Pat Riley. Here is a much higher resolution of that picture.
After Texas Western, Flournoy became a teacher and basketball coach at an elementary school in El Paso, Texas. He went into business after that and was in sales for more than 30 years for companies like Hostess Bakeries and Bimbo Bakeries USA. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. Flournoy and his wife Sukari have been married 25 years and have eight children between them and 24 grandchildren. They live in the Atlanta suburb of McDonough, Ga.
Willie Worsley was the fifth starting black player, and was surprised by the coach’s decision to start him over Willie Cager. Haskins wanted to employ a 3-guard lineup to combat the quickness of “Rupp’s Runts”, so the 5’6″ Worsley was inserted into the lineup as the third guard, alongside Orsten and Bobby Hill. He scored 8 points and pulled down 4 rebounds in the game. The NY Daily News published this interview with Worsley on the 50th anniversary of that historic season, in which he reveals a lot about his upbringing.
Although he was a solid contributer on the Miners team, Willie had a much more decorated high school career. He played for DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, leading them to a New York City Championship in 1963 and winning the tournament MVP. While at DeWitt, he also lead the team on a 38-game winning streak. Nate “Tiny” Archibald, who went on to have a very successful NBA career, was two years his junior at DeWitt and looked up to Worsely. The two played together in the backcourt for one season at UTEP in 1967-1968.
After Texas Western, Worsley returned to New York and enjoyed a brief career playing 24 games for the ABA’s New York Nets during the 1968-69 season. After that, he oversaw the shelter’s athletic program at the now-defunct children’s shelter Woodycrest, in the High Bridge neighborhood of the Bronx. The shelter merged with another home in Pomona, NY, and Worsley become a director until the organization became bankrupt.
Today, Worsley is the head coach of Spring Valley High School’s basketball team in Spring Valley, New York. He does a lot of community service work with underprivileged kids, including basketball clinics and summer camps. He also provides social counseling, human services for young adults. He and his wife Claudia have two daughters and six grandchildren.
Click on the links below for updates on the other players from the 1975-1966 Texas Western Miners.
- UTEP Glory Road Player Bio
- UTEP Athletics
- YouTube: Jerry Armstrong
- Jerry Armstrong: A reluctant hero on the road to Glory
- UTEP Glory Road Player Bio
- UTEP Athletics
- Togo’s tale: Former Bridge City, Port Neches-Groves coach Railey shares place in NCAA history
- El Paso Times: Former UTEP player Railey talks 1966 hoops