Arizona Basketball

Top 10 Games Fred Snowden Era: Money on the money in Snowden’s debut is running a series that features the top 10 games of the Fred Snowden era as Arizona’s head basketball coach from 1972-81 leading up to the 50th anniversary of his historic hire March 21. Snowden became the first African-American head coach of a major college basketball program when Arizona athletic director Dave Strack hired him March 21, 1972. “The Fox,” as he was called because of his prowess on the basepaths as a young baseball player, ignited the Arizona fan base with a run-and-gun style of basketball. The success of the program (reaching the Elite Eight in 1976) under Snowden, who was an assistant at Michigan before his hire, was a precursor to what Lute Olson developed with the program.

9. Freshman guard Eric Money scores 37 points in Snowden’s successful debut

Fred Snowden told reporters that he arrived early, about two hours before tipoff at Bear Down Gym, to soak in more of the experience of his first game as Arizona coach.

“I stood over the there at the end of the court and just looked at the place,” Snowden is quoted as saying by the Tucson Citizen a few minutes after Arizona made him a winner in his debut with a 94-87 win over Cal State Bakersfield.

“Now, Bear Down is no grand spectacle, but I thought to myself, ‘This is it. This is what all the work has been for.’ And by the time (assistant coach) Jerry (Holmes) joined me, I had tears running down my face.

“I am the first black American to have this opportunity as a major college coach in a major conference. I can’t tell you how important that is to me. And I’m awfully glad to get this one out of the way.” graphic

You can access the entire series by clicking here.

Eric Money, the playmaking point guard from Detroit’s Kettering High School, did not play like a freshman in his first game in an Arizona uniform in front of the sellout crowd of 3,200 fans at Bear Down Gym.

He scored 37 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Most of his shots were on fast breaks layups or off the dribble going to the basket after breaking down Bakersfield’s half-court defense.

P.J. Erickson of the Tucson Citizen wrote of Money as being the, “6-foot-2 freshman guard with the shot so fast it reminds you of a kid shooting marbles — nothing more than the flick of the wrist.”

Eric Money when he was a freshman at Arizona in 1972-73 (Stacey Snowden photo)

Money and Ron Allen, a junior college transfer who scored 17 points, each played the full 40 minutes.

Money’s scoring total was the most by an Arizona freshman and the sixth-most overall in program history.

The game was also available on closed-circuit television on the Arizona campus.

About 200 watched the game on television at the Student Union Ballroom. The Modern Languages Auditorium included approximately 150 spectators. A room in the Geology Building included 50 people watching the game.

Arizona top scoring performances as of Nov. 29, 1972

As of Nov. 29, 1972, these were the top scoring performers in a game in Arizona history:
Ernie McCray462/06/1960Cal State Los Angeles
Joe Skaisgir441/04/1962Hardin-Simmons
Bill Warner381/17/1970at New Mexico
Warren Rustand381/15/1965Brigham Young
Eli Lazovich383/02/1955Arizona State
Eric Money3711/29/1972Cal State Bakersfield

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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