Ernie McCray: I’ve been sending you some pretty heavy thoughts of late because my mind has been in a heavy funk but here’s something that’s made me feel a little better, something that’s allowed me a few moments to think about great moments in my life:
By Javier Morales / WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM
The single-game scoring record of 46 points set by Ernie McCray happened well before anybody affiliated with the present University of Arizona basketball team was alive … The accomplishment on Feb. 6, 1960, also occurred before any of the future NBA players Lute Olson showcased were born.
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The closest was Stoudamire at Stanford on Jan. 14, 1995, when he scored 45 points. ….
I contacted McCray, 71, on Thursday to get his insight on his record, the UA and what he is doing these days in his hometown of San Diego. I let McCray know that I hope his record lasts a lot longer. It is always nice to know UA basketball has more of a history than the last quarter-century. Enjoy the Q & A:
WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM: What do you think about your scoring record lasting so long and do you think it will ever be broken?
McCRAY: I think it’s absolutely amazing that my 46 points have lasted as a record for nearly 50 years. It’s been fun. It seems like it has to be broken. The problem is that Arizona has had so many great teams since my era and the scoring has been rather balanced. A couple of years ago it seemed as though Jerryd Bayless (39 points against ASU in 2008) was going to break it based on the points he had scored by halftime (26 points). I was sure it was gone and I was rooting for him because it was on national television and I figured they’d look in the record books and mention my name for millions of people to hear.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM: What’s the biggest difference between the game now to when you played?
McCRAY: To me the biggest difference between the game today and when I played is the overall athleticism of today’s players. They’re faster, stronger, can jump higher, and seem to understand the game more than my generation. I’d match my shooting against anybody playing today but I’d be running like hell to catch up and looking up at a lot of butts going up for a rebound.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM: What do you remember the most about the game in which you set the record?
McCRAY: What I remember most about the game in which I set the record is how easy everything I did seemed to be. I just couldn’t miss. I semi tried once, just lackadaisically firing one up and the ball didn’t make a sound falling through the nets. I was absolutely in the zone. And I think I had about 14 rebounds that night. I could be wrong as people tend to over glamorize their past. (The 14 rebounds is correct).
WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM: How closely do you follow the Wildcats and what do you think about their prospects this year?
McCRAY: I follow the Wildcats pretty closely and I think they’ll have a fine year. Looks like they’ve managed to bring in some good talent and I believe the coaching will be as great as it has been under Lute.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM: The 50th anniversary of your record is this year (in February). Has the UA contacted you about celebrating that mark? If not, do you hope they do so you can share in the celebration of the occasion with Arizona fans?
McCRAY: No, the UA hasn’t contacted me about celebrating my mark. It would be nice but I won’t hold my breath on that happening. I don’t know if they have any funds for flying old Wildcats from San Diego to McKale Center.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.COM: Can you let the UA fans know what you’re doing these days?
McCRAY: These days I’m sitting around hoping the UA invites me to celebrate my 46 points (laughs). No, I’m a retired school principal who still keeps himself in the game by collaborating with teachers and helping them do drama and prose and poetry and movement, creative activities with children, making school fun which I think schools should be. I write endlessly. I’m an actor, performance artist, an activist currently working around issues regarding the militarization of students at their schools and working to make schools safe for gay children. I’m occasionally invited to speak around town and at local San Diego universities about creating dynamic relevant learning environments for students. Occasionally, being 71 years old, I’m often asked to speak about my attitudes about aging, how it’s a privilege to be a senior citizen, a “wise” one, how it’s important to stay fit and involved in creating a better world. That’s my mission in life: Getting up everyday to make the world a little better than it was when the day started.