DALLAS – Before Morgan William, the one they call Itty Bitty, there was Debbie Brock, and she was even smaller than William when she helped Delta State win three straight national championships in 1975, ’76 and ’77.

Brock, who was all of 4 feet, 11 inches tall when she dribbled and passed the Lady Statesmen to national prominence, watched on TV Mississippi State’s historic, 66-64 overtime victory over UConn late Friday night.

The 1977 Delta State lady Statesmen are featured in the 2017 NCAA Final Four program. That’s Debbie Brock, the blonde in the middle.

“Oh, it was great, just so great,” Brock said by telephone from her home just outside Jackson. “I woke up this morning and had to ask myself, ‘Did that really happen? Did State really win that game? Did I dream that?”

No, Debbie, you didn’t, but millions Saturday were asking themselves the same thing. Few could ever imagine what it must have felt like to the players.

Debbie Brock can.

“They believed the could win,” Brock said. “They weren’t afraid. It brought back so many memories.”

Brock watched the game with her father, Mississippi Coaches Hall of Famer J.N. Brock, a Mississippi State graduate.

As you might expect the Brocks loved watching William the most.

“I think she’s just terrific,” Debbie Brock said. “She’s little, yeah, but she’s such a gifted athlete, with so much quickness and skill. But from the shoulders up is where the real difference is. She plays with her head. She’s so smart, makes such good decisions.

“The best thing about her is she’s fearless. That’s what you have to be when you’re that size.”

Langston Rogers, who was the Delta State publicist during those glory years, says when he watched William, he immediately thinks of Brock.

“So many similarities,” Rogers says. “Debbie was able to beat the press, by herself, with the dribble. Not many people can do that. Debbie could. Morgan William can, too.”

Brock will watch again with her father Sunday when State goes for the national championship.

“I’m pulling for Mississippi State,” she said. “I’m pulling for Mississippi. We need something to be proud of. They can do it.”

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.