All of Raleigh came together to back the ’74 Pack

Posted by Teresa Leonard on March 28, 2014 

The N.C. State mascot and fans send off the Wolfpack as they depart from Reynolds Coliseum for the 1974 Final Four in Greensboro.

SCOTT STEWART — 1974 News & Observer file photo

Things didn’t go so well for Triangle teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year, but it was a different story 40 years ago when N.C. State won its first national championship. It had been a good year for the Wolfpack. Their only loss that season had been to the UCLA Bruins, and as it turned out, they met UCLA again in the semifinal game in Greensboro. Raleigh Times writer Treva Jones described the excitement among State fans in the days leading up to the “big game.”

“We’re about talked out,” said Garner plumber Ralph Hollyfield as he got his hair worked over in a style shop.

Hollyfield and his friends were exhausted on the subject of The Big One – Saturday’s basketball game between N.C. State and UCLA.

But that didn’t stop him from talking about it.

He’s not alone. In barber shops and taverns, in shopping centers and schools, in the city and the suburbs, the No. 1 Wolfpack is the No. 1 topic of conversation. …

“To hear people talk in this mall, you’d think we all went to State,” chuckled Ronald Faison, who operates Scotty’s Chuckwagon at North Hills Shopping Center.

Everybody talks about it over their hot dogs and hamburgers, he said. On a few occasions when a basketball player stopped to eat, the snack shop was mobbed by admirers and autograph seekers, housewives as well as kids.

“They’ve got a chance to win it all. I hope they get it,” said Thomas Conder, a State Department of Correction employee as he sat at the bar of the Players Retreat and fingered a beer glass. His friend nodded.

Only moments before and a few blocks away, a cheering, yelling pep rally mob – many dressed in Wolfpack T-shirts or red blazers – had sent the Wolfpack team off to Greensboro to do battle with UCLA.

It was basketball madness. …

“We’re going to blow Wooden’s mind, that’s what we’re going to do,” said Larry Tippett, a part-time security guard for North Hills. Tippett had been strolling by when he overheard shoe salesman Joseph E. Miller talking about the upcoming game. Miller, who described himself as a fiend about the Wolfpack, has called six states seeking tickets for the game. No luck.

“We’re going for the big one, and it’s going to happen,” Miller said, clenching his fist. “This is it.”

“That’s all the talk in Raleigh,” he said. The Raleigh Times, 3/22/1974

It took a double overtime, but the Pack came out on top and went on to defeat Marquette to take the national championship. Raleigh Times writer John Walston reported on the team’s “warm, wild welcome” home.

The N.C. State Wolfpack, college basketball’s new national champion, returned to Raleigh today to the cheers and adulation of 7,000 fans at Reynolds Coliseum.

The coliseum, filled with “No. One” signs, resounded with music by the Wolfpack Pep band and wild cheering by the fans. …

One man, who drove 80 miles for the rally, said, “I have waited 27 years to see this. I came to see the number one team in the United States.”

“This don’t happen often unless you live on the West Coast,” he said, referring to UCLA’s seven-year domination of the national college basketball championship. State smashed the dynasty Saturday night with its 80-77 double-overtime win over UCLA. The game propelled State into Monday’s final game with Marquette, and a 76-64 final victory.

Today’s pep rally was riding a crest of jubilation that started Monday night. …

At 11 p.m. Monday, N.C. State University’s Wolfpack captured their first national basketball championship.

And, within moments, wildly exuberant fans welled up from the campus and began a boisterous two-hour celebration.

An estimated 6,000 fans poured onto Hillsborough Street.

They screamed, they cried, they laughed and danced.

They made the traditional mile march to the Capitol.

And as they clambered over the Confederate Monument at the end of Hillsborough Street, signs went up proclaiming that N.C. State was truly “No. 1.”

Even the WRAL-TV tower across from the NCSU campus proclaimed the Pack’s victory. A huge “1” outlined in lights was turned on as the game ended.

Wolfpack fans rallying at the Capitol cheered in unison “We’re No. 1,” sang Maryland coach Lefty Driesell’s “Amen” song, pooh-poohed Bill Walton and the UCLA Bruins, and even turned to their old standby cheer, “Go to hell Carolina,” as they milked their championship for all its sweet worth. …

At the belltower entrance to the NCSU campus, thousands of fans milled around in the streets celebrating as the march returned from the Capitol.

Snowball fights broke out between fans atop Hillsborough Square and those in the street.

Fans uprooted a highway sign and waved it frantically. The sign indicated U.S. 1. The Raleigh Times, 3/26/1974

Read more stories from local and state history and send us your own stories on the blog Past Times, newsobserver.com/pasttimes.

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