Legends make console debut
Although neither Playstation or Xbox was yet created when the 1983 Cougar basketball team went to the NCAA Championship game, that year’s squad will be showcased as a playable team in the 2009 installment of the popular EA Sports franchise, NCAA Basketball.
Selected as one of 64 of the greatest college teams by ESPN, Blue Ribbon and EA Sports, the 1983 Cougars can be accessed by choosing to play the "ESPN Classic Tournament of Legends" feature.
"It’s (Tournament of Legends feature) something we’ve always wanted to do," said Connor Dougan, one of the game’s associate producers. "It’s about recreating those matchups that you could never have in real life. We wanted to give people the opportunity to play those classic teams against each other and have the opportunity to see who comes out on top."
Nicknamed "Phi Slama Jama" by former Houston Post writer Thomas Bonk, the 1983 team compiled a record of 31-3, including the nation’s longest win streak at 26 games. Houston legend Guy V. Lewis, the namesake of the court at Hofheinz Pavilion, coached the Cougars to the NCAA Championship game, losing a close 54-52 contest to North Carolina State.
Gamers will be able to control some of Houston basketball’s most cherished figures – Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The college teammates played professionally in the NBA with the Houston Rockets and helped the town that became known as "Clutch City" win back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995.
Drexler holds the record for all-time career steals with 268 while also being the only Cougar to amass over 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 300 assists.
Olajuwon averaged 4.5 blocked shots per game from 1980-84, collecting 454 blocks in his career to claim the top spot in the Cougar record books.
The game’s producers tried to replicate the styles of the teams and players as authentically as possible – in the game, the Cougars play at Hofheinz Pavilion complete with fans, and gamers can choose from classic and alternate team uniforms.
The producers also employed a new gameplay style and engine featuring more than 1,000 animations sequences to create believable characters, according to a press release.
"In terms of distinct styles, it was a little easier for some of the more well-known players (such as Olajuwon being a dominant post presence)," Dougan said. "We have an up-tempo style for teams that really like to push the ball and tend to play pressure defense, and we also have a half-court style for teams who like to work the clock and limit possessions."
NCAA Basketball 09 is now available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 2 and 3 consoles.