RICHMOND, Va. -- Bob Black entered his 40th season as a Richmond Spiders basketball broadcaster this year.
Hall of Fame Richmond Spiders head basketball coach Dick Tarrant helped put the Spiders on the college basketball map back in 1984 with an NCAA win over Charles Barkley's Auburn team.
That started a long tradition of the small school from the South taking down some of the game's biggest names.
A tradition that didn't begin until Black arrived on campus.
"I tell Dick Tarrant all the time, it had nothing to do with John Newman, John Davis, and Greg Beckwith," Black said. "[It had] everything to do with Bob Black, but he didn't buy that."
"Well, that's quite a coincidence," Tarrant said with a smile. "That's all I can say."
Beckwith, the Spiders Hall of Fame guard turned analyst has sat next to Black for the past 20 years as his on-air partner. But he first met a much younger Black during his playing days and recognized Black's talent immediately.
"He had this little squeaky voice when he started out. But I knew he was from Syracuse and I knew he was good," Beckwith said. "He makes my job easy on the play-by-play. He's so smooth, so good, so knowledgeable. It just makes it so easy and so comfortable for me."
To help celebrate his milestone, Black and the school put together a Top 10 list of the most memorable games he's called for the Spiders.
Number one was the Spiders' 1991 NCAA Tournament win over Syracuse. It was the first time a Number 15 seed ever beat a Number 2 seed in NCAA Tournament history.
Being a Syracuse alum might have caused some mixed feelings for anyone other than a professional who knew where his allegiances lay.
"First of all, I think being in that position and eventually winning the game gives some sort of validation to what you're doing," Black said. "That you're doing it at a program that is up and coming and is on a par with your alma mater and that you can compete with them."
In fact, when Syracuse plays the Spiders, Black does not bleed Orange.
"I don't think there's any game that I've broadcasted that I actually wanted Richmond to win more than that game against my alma mater," he said.
That goes to the heart of Black's professionalism and on-air style.
He tries to be positively accurate in his call of games, understanding he is the voice of the Spiders but with an objectivity that tells viewers and listeners he's being completely honest about what is in front of him.
"I've had both sides of the audience talk to me about that. There's the one side that says you're too objective. You say too many nice things about the opponents. There's the other side that says you know I can tune in that game in the second half or the fourth quarter, and I can tell right away by the tone of your voice whether the spiders are winning or losing," he said.
Spiders Head Basketball Coach Chris Mooney said he respected Black's objectivity.
"When everybody is frustrated 15 minutes following a game, it's easy to say why did this guy turn the ball over? Why did you make that decision? I think Bob has a great way of putting those questions and the situation in context," Mooney, in his 18th season leading the Spiders as head coach, said.
Beckwith said Black earns praise from both sides of the basketball court.
"Former coaches, current head coaches, some assistant coaches in the league, school administrators telling us how nice it is to listen to us and how easy it is to listen to us as opposing broadcasters," he said.
"We've been blessed to have someone that good for so long," Tarrant said. "I want to put him up for the Hall of Fame, but he said don't put me in until I retire. I think he's a sure fire Richmond Hall of Famer."
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