Randy Hollis: Harold Arceneaux, Eddie Gill reflect on WSU's memorable NCAA triumph over North Carolina
Gill had grown up being a huge fan of the Tar Heels' program, which had reached the NCAA tourney's Final Four in each of the previous two seasons. He recalled the smug, overconfident looks on the faces of the Tar Heels' players when the Wildcats passed them on their way to practice the day before the game, as if the 'Cats didn't belong on the same court with them — which made the always-intense and highly competitive point guard want to beat them that much more.
"We just felt like we had a genuine chance to win the game," Gill said. "Never mind the individual battles within the game, we felt like our team was going to have a real chance to go win the game.
"I don't ever look at any opponent and think they're so great, like because you play for Carolina, you're great. I just happen to go to a different school than you, so I could very easily have your job. That's the way I look at it.
"No one can ever take that away from me. That's an opportunity and a moment that no one can take away," he said. "Carolina will always have to live with losing to Weber State. All those Cinderella stories — that's what March Madness is all about."
And every year about this time, those wonderful memories come flooding back.
"The game itself, definitely during college basketball season all the time," said the 35-year-old Gill, "and then obviously when the tournament rolls around, it really goes to another level because about half the time they're showing one of our highlights of (Harold) going crazy against Carolina and us winning the game and storming the court and the whole thing. During college basketball season, all the time I think about it, or whenever I see Carolina playing on TV."
Arceneaux, meanwhile, looked at the game against North Carolina as simply another great opportunity for him and his teammates to prove themselves.
"It was just another game for me," he said. "I was just there to win.
"We always was underdogs, I mean, even in junior college ... so it was always us having to prove that we were good players.
"But I was part of something that wasn't supposed to happen," he said. "We didn't realize we were making history. ... The next day, the phone just didn't stop ringing, so I think right after that day our lives were changed."
Arceneaux, who put on such an eye-popping "Show" with five 3-pointers against the Heels that many folks figured he'd leave school early for the NBA draft, instead returned along with Gill to play their senior seasons for the Wildcats.
And though the NBA never came calling, Arceneaux does not regret his decision to stay at Weber State for one more year.
"I try not to live in the past," he said. "Maybe if I leave, maybe something else happens. So I'm in a good place, I'm happy; I'm not a bum. I don't regret anything, so I'm happy with the decision I made."
Since his days at Weber State, Arceneaux, who will turn 37 in a month, played in various pro leagues in the United States — including two minor league teams in Utah — but never reached the NBA.
Instead, he played around the world for teams in Australia, France, Portugal, the Philippines, Venezuela and Mexico, where he is still playing and coaching pro ball for a team in Leon, Mexico.
"It was a blessing for me to find a situation like that situation," he said.
"For me personally, I grew up poor in the projects (of New Orleans), so to get an opportunity to see the world and experience things and help my family out and things of that nature, it's been a blessing for me. So I'm happy, totally, with everything."
Gill, who played pro ball for 12 years, including seven seasons in the NBA, started a basketball training business a year ago in Indianapolis, where he spent two seasons (2004-06) playing for the Pacers. His program is aimed primarily at youth players, focusing on their fundamental skill development.
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