Jan 202005
 
Authors: Joelle Milholm

Thurman 'Fum' McGraw's No. 48, Eddie Hanna's No. 28, Bill Green's No. 24 and Sherri Danielson's No. 12 all decorate the ceiling at Moby Arena, keeping watch as new generations of teams fight the battles they once fought.

As fans watch games, they can look up and be reminded of the greatness that has appeared at CSU. Starting Saturday night, they will have one more jersey to look at: Becky Hammon's No. 25.

"I think, and any athlete I have ever talked to thinks that getting their jersey retired is the greatest honor an athlete can have," Ozzello said. "There has not been a female athlete that has extended or done more for her program than Becky Hammon did. She was awesome."

During Saturday night's women's basketball game between CSU and UNLV, No. 25 will be hoisted above the court at Moby, representing one of the best athletes to ever grace the CSU campus.

"It is quite an honor if you consider all the amazing athletes that came from CSU," Hammon said. "It will be a very special moment to see it lifted into the rafters."

Before Hammon came to CSU, the university's women's basketball team had never made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In the 1994-95 season, the team's record was 14-13. Then Hammon arrived on the scene for the 1995-96 season and the program was changed forever.

"When we (Hammon and teammate Katie Cronin) came into CSU, if we would have told them our dream, they would have laughed at us," Hammon said. "But then we did it and that was one of the best parts, that no one expected it."

The team went 26-5 and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before being knocked out by Stanford. Hammon, a 5-foot-6-inch point guard, averaged more than 19 points per game and was named the 1996 Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year.

Hammon led the Rams to a 21-7 finish her sophomore year and a 24-6 record and another second round NCAA Tournament appearance her junior year.

But Hammon saved the best for last. In 1999, Hammon guided the Rams to a 33-3 season and broke into the Sweet 16. CSU was bumped off by UCLA in the Elite Eight, but the team had achieved the status of one of the best programs in the nation.

"My senior year was the best. It was unbelievable to go 33-3," Hammon said. "We were ranked No. 4 in the country and it was really impressive to win in the Sweet 16."

Attendance at Moby soared during Hammond's tenure. More than 8,000 fans saw most games during the 1999 season, a large increase from numbers previously averaging around 2,000.

"Honestly, her impact on this school is immeasurable," Ozzello said. "We considered our program in the top-20 of the nation and before her we weren't even recognized regionally."

Perhaps one of the biggest marks Hammon made on CSU was in its record books. Of the 17 career records that CSU tracks, Hammon's name is atop 10, including career points with 2,740, points per game with 21.9, free throws made with 539, 3-point field goals made with 365, assists with 538 and steals with 315.

Hammon ranks No. 1 on nine of CSU's single-season records, including 824 points in 1998-99, 23.5 points per game in 1997-98, 188 free-throws made in 1998-99, 114 3-pointers made in 1998-99 and 174 assists in 1998-99.

Hammon may have given a lot to CSU, but she feels like CSU gave a lot to her.

"Fort Collins and CSU are such a big part of me and the success that I have had and to be rewarded like this is really amazing," Hammon said. "Coaches, teammates and fans all go into an honor like this."

Hammon also made her mark on the WAC outside of CSU. The Rapid City, S.D., native remains to this day the all-time leading scorer in the WAC regardless of gender with her 2,740 points. She was named WAC Player of the Year three times and was selected to the WAC First-Team All-Conference.

Hammon also became the only female basketball player from CSU to be named an All-American. And she did it three times: in 1997, 98 and 99.

Hammon's basketball career did not end when she left CSU. She is an all-star for the WNBA's New York Liberty and claimed the 2003 regular season scoring title, averaging 20.2 points per game.

She is in her third year in the National Women's Basketball League, with the last two being on the Colorado Chill. After going down with a knee injury two games into the 2004 season with the Chill, Hammon is back, running the point and helping the team get off to a 3-0 start.

Hammon was inducted into CSU's Hall of Fame in November, but she said that getting her number retired is an honor that means a little bit more.

"The Hall of Fame was special because you get inducted with people you went to school with and you can see all these people going on after being at CSU and doing great things," Hammon said. "This is just so much more personal. I hope that a lot of the people that supported me with come and share this with me because they really are such a big part of it."

INFO BOX:

WHY 25?

In high school in Rapid City, S.D., Hammon wore No. 22, but when she arrived at CSU, No. 22 was already taken by Wendy Wormel. Hammon decided to take No. 25 instead. Even after wearing No. 25 for four years at CSU, the same number still decorates her jerseys with the New York Liberty and Colorado Chill.

"It is a nice round number," Hammon said. "We had a really good year together, me and 25 in my freshman year, so I just stuck with it."

OTHER RETIRED JERSEYS:

NO. 28 Eddie Hanna

Played football for CSU in the 1948 and '49 seasons but died after the team played a game in Colorado Springs in 1949. CSU retired his number as a tribute.

NO. 24 Bill Green

Played basketball for CSU from 1961-63 and was the first All-American from CSU's basketball program. He is the second-leading scorer of all-time in CSU's record books with 1,682 points. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1963 but turned down a career in the NBA to be a teacher in New York.

NO. 48 Thurman 'Fum' McGraw

Defensive tackle for the football team from 1947-50 and was the program's first All-American. He played for the Detroit Lions from 1950-54 before returning to CSU to be an assistant coach. He later became an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers and then returned to CSU again, this time as the athletic director. His jersey was retired in 1986.

NO. 12 Sherri Danielson

CSU's first All-American volleyball player, Danielson played on the team from 1983-86. She still ranks in the top 10 in kills, attacks, hitting percentage and services aces. She played on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. CSU retired her number in 1988.

NO. 25 Becky Hammon

The first women's basketball player to get her number retired at CSU. First athlete in 16 years to get her number retired at CSU. A three-time All-American who is currently playing for the WNBA's New York Liberty and the NWBL's Colorado Chill.

 

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