The year was 1993, and the University of Delaware was playing Seton Hall in the pre-season NIT at Madison Square Garden. I was covering the game for my student newspaper, The Review, and beforehand I spotted Dickie V along the sideline. I introduced myself, and asked if I could throw a few questions his way.
I was young and goofy and star-struck, so I went lame. “What do you think about the Blue Hens?” I said.
“Well,” he replied, “they’re a mid-major program frighting to be on the rise. Spencer Dunkley, their center, is a real PTP, and the point guard Pearl looks like he has a lot of potential. Wright’s a real slasher, the kind of guy who can get to the rim against better opponents. And Steve Steinwedel has done a heck of a job leading this kids.”
Only later did I realize that Vitale probably knew absolutely nothing about Delaware basketball, and that his words were straight from the scouting report he had been handed an hour earlier.
Which isn’t a crime.
PS: One other thing I remember from that game. Delaware played well, but lost. Late in the game Steinwedel played a bunch of bench guys. One, a freshman center named Matt Strine, found himself with the ball in the paint, standing before Seton Hall’s Jerry Walker. Strine pumped, pumped, pumped—then shot. Walker swatted the thing 10 rows back. Vitale’s call was fantastic—”Welcome to the big time, Mr. Strine!”