, Port Arthur, Texas


March 1, 2013

Best of West: Mike Olliver's range always left rivals shaking their heads


    Editor’s note: The following column from the Best of West collection was originally published in the Port Arthur News on Feb. 24, 1989.


     Mike Olliver!

    If you're a long time Lamar University basketball fan, the name often flashes through the mind in this, the era of the three-point basket. It was certainly on my mind Tuesday night, after watching the Cardinals' David Jones set a school record with six three pointers.

     Olliver, Lamar's all-time career scoring leader, was the greatest long-distance shooter these eyes have ever seen.  Unfortunately for Olliver, and for Lamar, his eligibility ended in 1981, which was six seasons before the NCAA decided a shot over 19 feet, 9 inches was worth an extra point.

     Even without the bonus basket, Olliver finished with 2,518 career points.  The total, at that time, made him the 15th most prolific scorer in NCAA history.

     The native of Mt. Olive, N.C., averaged 20.6 points for his four years at Lamar, and scored at a 22.3 clip as a senior.  Despite taking a high percentage of shots from beyond 20 feet, Olliver was a 48.7 percent career shooter, and hit 51.2 his final season.

     So how valuable would Mike Olliver be today?  How high is up?

      "I think he'd lead the nation in scoring," says Alvin Brooks, Lamar's point guard Olliver's junior and senior years.  "I have not seen a player to this day who can shoot it like Mike. Kids being recruited to shoot 3s aren't even in his league."

      "I don't like to compare players," says Billy Tubbs, who coached Olliver for three years before going to Oklahoma.  "But, without putting anybody down, I can honestly say Mike had the greatest range of any player I've ever coached. There were no bad shots for Mike."

     Mike Olliver, for those who didn't have the privilege to watch him bury long-range jumpers, was pure poetry in motion.  He was the kind of player even a sportswriter would pay to watch.  They called him "Silk" for good reason.

      "Mike was one of the most amazing basketball players I've ever seen," says Houston's Pat Foster, who coached him as a senior.  "It's against a coach's nature to be comfortable with a guy shooting the ball from 25 feet.  But that's the way it was with him.  No telling how many points he'd score in today's game."

     Olliver was amazing for more than his ability to shoot.  He was barely six feet tall and had only average quickness, shortcomings which kept him out of the NBA.  Yet nobody on the collegiate level could stop him.

      Louisville's Denny Crum, for instance, tried virtually everybody on his team one night in the Alaska Shootout. Olliver finished with 35 points on 17 of 25.  Crum was last heard muttering that he was putting the ball up from so far out the shots weren't good ones to take.

     Olliver's most dazzling shooting performance, because of all the ramifications, probably came in Lamar's 1980 NCAA victory over 17th-ranked Weber State on the Wildcats home floor.  He sank 17 of 26 from the field and scored 37 points, as Lamar held on for an 87-86 victory.

     According to the official play-by-play sheet, six of Olliver's 17 field goals were beyond the distance of today's three-point line.  Most of them were well beyond.  Here's how they looked on the official play-by-play sheet.

     Olliver 24 feet right corner, Olliver 22 top of lane, Olliver 25 top of key, Olliver 24 left angle, Olliver 22 left corner, Olliver 30 right angle.  Four others were listed in the 16-18 foot range.

     "That's one of two games that immediately come to mind when I think of Mike," says Brooks, an assistant coach for Foster in Houston.  "What I remember is seeing Mike standing in front of the Weber State coach, about 35 feet from the basket, and the coach telling his man to let Mike shoot, that he couldn't hit it from that far.

     "Mike went up, swished a jumper, then looked over at the coach and grinned.  The same kind of thing happened when we were playing Pittsburgh, the next year in the Missouri tournament.

      "Mike hit his first shot from about 30 feet.  The Pittsburgh coach hollered to let him keep shooting from there, that they were bad shots.  Mike was taking a position right in front of their bench.  After he made about five in a row the coach decided they better come out on him."

     Reviews of play-by-play sheets that could be found show two games where Olliver would have had eight three-point goals.  One was during his school-record shattering 50-point game against Portland State as a junior, the other when he fired in 35 against Louisiana Tech in the championship game of the first ever Southland Conference post-season tournament.

     The Portland State play-by-play credits him with one 20 footer, four from 25, one from 30, one from 35 and one from 50.  Tubbs swears the 50 footer, which came at the final buzzer, was not a heave but just a conventional Olliver jumper.

     "I've got to believe there were several games when Mike would have had more than eight from three-point distance," Brooks says.  "I used to look at the stat sheets after the game and laugh at the distances they put down for Mike's shots.  Shots they were calling 18 and 20 were more like 25.  Those stat guys just weren't used to a player shooting from so far out."

     Had the three-point line been in force when Olliver played at Lamar, Tubbs says a conservative guess is that he'd have averaged 3 to 4 a game.  The way he sees it, Olliver would average close to 25 points in today's game.

     "I'll tell you this," Tubbs said.  "He'd sure look good in an Oklahoma uniform. Right now."

     Not nearly as good as he'd look in a Lamar uniform.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at


Text Only
  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

  • MC Babe Ruth goes 2-0

    First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.

    July 19, 2014

  • Up the odds for solid bank fishing

    There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.

    July 19, 2014

  • Derek Williams, Summer Money League light up the lanes at Max Bowl

    Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.

    July 19, 2014

  • West column: Pacers hiring Pat Knight didn't help Lamar

    July 19, 2014

  • Babe Ruth.jpg Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional

    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney

    July 15, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog