He called it “the shot,” but that is an understatement when describing the events of March 6, 1999.
Lamar Odom was about thirty or so feet from the basket, the game versus Temple was tied at 59-59, and he had the ball with a chance at the Big Dance—the NCAA Tournament.
“I wanted to shoot it with no time on the clock, and instincts just took over,” Odom said. “I had some room, daylight and rhythm, and when I let it go, it felt so good.”
It was good, sending ESPN’s Dave Sims and the Rhody bench into a frenzy. Odom’s teammates Preston Murphy and Antonio Reynolds-Dean each had different views of “the shot” as they were in different spots on the court of the Spectrum in Philadelphia, but both had the same final reaction.
“I knew if he got the ball, he’d take it,” Murphy said of the championship-winning trifecta. “I never thought it would be a 30-footer, but once it left his hand, I knew.”
Reynolds-Dean was Rhody’s captain and model of consistency. Odom called the 6-5, 220 lb. forward “a father figure.” Murphy pointed to the vocal, emotional leader as the key to URI’s postseason run.
“I was under the basket, and if you watch the film, my reaction was delayed,” the Douglass, Ga., native said. “I saw it go in the net and hit the floor, but I was in shock. Then I started running around. It was a good shock.”
For Murphy and Reynolds-Dean, “the shot” helped ease the pain of what could be another gross understatement in Rhode Island basketball annals: “the Stanford loss.”
In 1998, URI was just under 60 seconds away from beating the Cardinals and advancing to the first Final Four in program history. But fate would not smile kindly on the Rams that day at the Kiel Center in St. Louis, Mo.
“It was no secret that the 1998 season was magical, but we lost four seniors from that team, including two NBA draft picks in Cuttino Mobley and Tyson Wheeler,” Reynolds-Dean said. “Those two guys made me better, and I became a better leader because of them.”
With the wunderkind Odom taking the court for his first collegiate season and Murphy suffering a severe ankle injury in the first half of the first game of the season, Reynolds-Dean stepped up and asserted himself as the team’s solid rock.
“Lamar was going to be the leader on the court, I needed to be the leader off the court and in the locker room,” he said.
“Antonio kept us together and kept making us see the glass as half-full,” Odom recalled.
“He was always so constant and consistent,” Murphy added. “I am so proud to have had the opportunity to play with Antonio for four years.”
By Mike Laprey