Interview Conducted 9/8/2008
If a Vanderbilt Commodore basketball game from 1985-89 came down to the final possession, you could count on guard Barry Goheen to take the final shot. In his career, he hit seven buzzer beaters for the ‘Dores. One ESPN commentator in the 1980’s dubbed the phrase “Goheened” for teams that lost on a buzzer beater.
After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School, Goheen went from the court to the courtroom. He’s now a partner for King & Spalding Litigation Practice Group in Atlanta. He specializes defending companies in class-action lawsuits.
I caught up with him while he was driving to a golf tournament in Nashville.
Goheen explained why he nailed so many buzzer beaters in his career.
GOHEEN: “In my experience, I guess it was easier for me to block out the situation and not think that we were behind one point with ten seconds to go and this shot I’m about to put up will or will not mean the game whether it goes in or not. I never really thought about that.”
“I don’t think players should think about that, it should be like the first shot of the game or the first shot in practice. That’s how I tried to view it.”
One of Goheen’s buzzer beaters occurred on a national stage in the second round of the 1988 NCAA Tournament against Pittsburgh. Down 67-64 with four seconds to play, Goheen took an in-bound pass under his own basket, dribbled to five feet behind the left arc and sank a three before Pitt defenders could foul him.
Vanderbilt won the game in OT 80-74.
One of the players who couldn’t get to Goheen in time for the foul was Pittsburgh point guard Sean Miller, who is now the Head Coach at Xavier University. History repeated itself for Miller in the 2007 NCAA Tournament when up by 3 in a second round game against #1 seed Ohio State, Xavier did not foul Ron Lewis before his game-tying three pointer. Ohio State won in Overtime and made it to the NCAA Finals.
GOHEEN: “Somebody told me that at a press conference after Xavier made the Sweet 16 [in 2008, the following year] someone asked Sean what his most difficult moment in basketball was and he said something like ‘Barry Goheen’.”
“It’s been 20 years since that game against Pittsburgh and I wrote him and congratulated him on the game he had. I wrote ‘it’s been 20 years. You’ve done very well and are one of the rising stars in coaching. If you ever come down to Atlanta, let’s have a drink and put it behind us.'”
“But our paths inevitably seem to keep crossing.”
Goheen graduated Vanderbilt in 1989. He received Academic All-SEC honors three times. He is 11th all-time in most points scored as a Commodore.
Goheen planned to attend Law School after graduating in 1989, but he wanted to take some time off.
GOHEEN: “After four years after the athletic and academic grind, I didn’t think I could go back into another rigorous program… I felt like I was better served by taking a break, working, and getting out in the real world.”
After a short time away from academia, Goheen was accepted to Vanderbilt University School of Law. He graduated in 1994. While there, he was a member of the Vanderbilt Law Review.
While Goheen said that playing under the bright lights for Vanderbilt in SEC games does not really give him an advantage over other lawyers, he did say that…
GOHEEN: “Playing athletics, being in a competitive environment, and having been in those high pressure situations I absolutely believe that it helps me in my practice.”
Goheen and his colleagues typically represent corporate clients in claims brought by consumers and other businesses. The courtroom brings an enormous amount of pressure for Goheen to succeed.
GOHEEN: “The [plaintiffs] often seeks hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars depending on the case. It can get dicey. It’s a high pressure situation and it can be difficult.”
Fast Forward to 2:10 to see Goheen’s
halfcourt buzzer-beater against Louisville.
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