Few knew Heyman's drive better than '62 Wildcats

rgreen@charlotteobserver.comAugust 29, 2012 

  • More information By the numbers Art Heyman, famous for his role in the 1961 brawl against UNC, took it out on Tar Heels in other ways, too. He has Duke’s second and fourth-highest scoring games in the series. Others numbers to know: 1 Duke rank in career scoring average (25.1 points) 2 Duke’s AP rank entering 1962-63 season, its highest to that point 3 Times selected All-American 4 Led Duke to its first Final Four in 1963 12 Duke rank in points scored (1,984), he left Duke No. 1. 21-18-10 Triple double against Virginia, Duke’s first in ACC play 24 Career-high rebounds, against UNC on his Senior Day, tied for third-highest at Duke, second-most in the series. 25 Jersey number, one of 13 Duke has retired 40 Career-high points, against UNC on his Senior Day, second-most by a Duke player in the series. Heyman also scored 36 against the Heels.

Lefty Driesell knows the history of ACC basketball as well as almost anyone and he knows Art Heyman’s place in the league’s long, colorful story.

“He was one of the best to ever play in the ACC,” Driesell, the former Maryland and Davidson coach, said Tuesday. “He was a heckuva player, a great competitor.”

Heyman was so good that he helped boost the Davidson program onto the national stage when Driesell was building it in the early 1960s.

Driesell offered Duke athletics director Eddie Cameron a $10,000 guarantee, virtually unheard of in 1962, to bring Heyman, Jeff Mullins and the second-ranked Blue Devils to face the Wildcats in the Charlotte Coliseum.

“People didn’t give guarantees back then, but I told Eddie Cameron we’d sell the place out,” Driesell said. “He could take $10,000 or half the gate.”

Davidson upset the second-ranked Blue Devils in the Coliseum and two years later, the Wildcats were Sports Illustrated’s preseason No. 1 team in the country.

In the closing seconds of Davidson’s 72-69 victory over the Blue Devils, Duke trailed by one point and Heyman brought the ball up court. Davidson’s Barry Teague stole the ball from Heyman, sealing the victory. Driesell remembers Heyman grabbing his wrist, claiming to have been fouled on the decisive play.

“It was a great win for our program,” Driesell said.

Mullins said Heyman’s determination and competitiveness were best displayed in his exceptional rebounding ability.

“I’ve always said that next to Elgin Baylor, Art was the best 6-5 offensive rebounder I’ve played with or against,” Mullins said. “He had a knack and a hunger for the ball. When it went up on the glass, he thought it belonged to him.”

Mullins said Heyman’s intensity was such that when the Blue Devils went through pre-game introductions, each player ran out on the court, then back into a team huddle at the bench.

“Nobody wanted to put their hand near Art’s, he was so intense,” Mullins said. “He broke (coach) Vic Bubas’s thumb once in the huddle. He reached in and grabbed something and it was Vic’s thumb.”

What Heyman lacked in physical skill, Mullins said, was offset by his toughness, which came to define him as a college player.

“He never looked like a basketball player, but when you put the ball in his hands he knew what to do,” Mullins said.

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