They Could Really Play The Game


Updated Wed, Mar 13, 2013 4:37 pm

Airs Tuesday, March 26 • 8 p.m.

The documentary "They Could Really Play the Game" revisits one of the greatest stories in American sports history. Few people have heard of the exploits of the 1952-54 Rio Grande Redmen. The team won 39 games in a single season and saved their college from bankruptcy. Bevo Francis, the team's star, scored 113 points in a single college game - still an NCAA record today. For the first time, viewers will hear the story from the coach and players who lived it. They describe the physical and mental challenges, the prejudice and discrimination their basketball team overcame to survive and win. It was a road this team traveled not once, but twice.

Directed by Barney McCoy, the Rio Grande Redmen from a tiny college in Appalachian Ohio astounded the college basketball world in the early '50s with a high scoring center named Bevo Francis and hard scrabble coach named Newt Oliver. The Redmen set records, saved their school and may have saved the game of college basketball.