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YEAR BY YEAR | ALL-DECADE TEAM 1980s: Four letters that ignited a city

  • Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014, at 4:01 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at 1:37 p.m.

“MTXE” was the 1980s equivalent of “Play Angry.” Mental Toughness Xtra Effort became household words as Gene Smithson began to turn around Shocker basketball. MTXE was affixed to towels, T-shirts, jerseys, anything with yellow and black.

Things really turned upon the 1979 arrival of Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston, quickly dubbed the “Bookend Forwards” and starters from Day 1. Combined with upperclassmen Randy Smithson and Tony Martin, and 6-foot-11 center Ozell Jones, they got WSU back into the national spotlight, even as an NCAA probation was keeping it out of the tournament for in 1982 and 1983.

Pick your memory: Randy Smithson falling backward as the game-sealing free throw goes in against Iowa, finishing a 15-point second-round comeback in a frenzied Roundhouse? Mike Jones’ 25-footer to beat Kansas five days later in the Superdome? Xavier McDaniel’s 43-point, 20-rebound performance in 1985 that showed Bradley coach Dick Versace his stats weren’t padded?

Carr, Levingston and McDaniel were All-Americans and progressed to long NBA careers. MTXE didn’t last as long.

Gene Smithson was fired in 1986, but Eddie Fogler arrived and immediately took two more WSU teams to the NCAAs. Shocker hoops was seemingly back on the big stage to stay.

SeasonOverallMVC (Finish)CoachTop scorer
1979-8017-12**9-7 (T2nd)Gene SmithsonCliff Levingston (15.7)
1980-8126-7*12-4 (1st)Gene SmithsonCliff Levingston (18.5)
1981-8223-612-4 (T2nd)Gene SmithsonCliff Levingston (16.0)
1982-8325-317-1 (1st)Gene SmithsonAntoine Carr (22.6)
1983-8418-12**11-5 (3rd)Gene SmithsonXavier McDaniel (20.6)
1984-8515-13*11-5 (T2nd)Gene SmithsonXavier McDaniel (27.2)
1985-8614-147-9 (T5th)Gene SmithsonGus Santos (15.0)
1986-8722-11*9-5 (3rd)Eddie FoglerHenry Carr (11.8)
1987-8820-10*11-3 (2nd)Eddie FoglerSasha Radunovich (14.1)
1988-8919-11**10-4 (T2nd)Eddie FoglerSteve Grayer (14.0)

* — NCAA Tournament; ** – National Invitation Tournament

PlayerHt.Pos.
Antoine Carr6-9F
Cliff Levingston6-8F
Xavier McDaniel6-8F
Sasha Radunovich6-10C
Aubrey Sherrod6-4G
Off the bench
Henry Carr6-9C
John Cooper6-6F
Steve Grayer6-8F
Paul Guffrovich6-3G
Lew Hill6-5G
Ozell Jones6-11C
Tony Martin6-2G
Dwight Praylow6-5G
Gus Santos6-7F
Randy Smithson6-3G

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