[EDITOR’S NOTE: This edition of “Good Question” originally aired in 2019.]
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When the Final Four comes to Minneapolis in April, the pinnacle of college basketball will return to where it all started: at Hamline University in a science hall that’s since been torn down.
So, how has the game changed since then? Good Question.
“It was a very different game than what we play today,” Jim Hayes, current head coach for the men’s Hamline basketball team, said.
The first basketball game played between two colleges was February 9, 1895, between Hamline and the Minnesota School of Agriculture. That school is now the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.
The final score was 9 to 3.
“Unfortunately, Hamline lost,” Hayes said.
Back then, there were no three-pointers. Each bucket counted for a single point. Players weren’t allowed to dribble, but rather just pivot and pass. There were nine to a team and goaltenders to guard the baskets.
“It was peach basket, so they had a ladder that you had to climb up and get the ball out,” Hayes said.
On the 100th year of the first game, Hamline replayed that version of basketball. Hayes was a referee for the reenactment.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game of basketball but it was fun to be a part of,” he said.
The game came to Hamline via its athletic director at the time: Ray Kaighn. He had played basketball for James Naismith, the man who invented the game in Massachusetts four years earlier.
Both Geneva College in Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt in Tennessee call themselves the birthplace of college basketball, but those games — which were played two years earlier — weren’t against other schools.
“We are the first place of intercollegiate basketball,” said Hayes. “It’s an incredible history to be a part of.”