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At a Glance
NCAA Champion--Texas Western (28-1; coached by Don Haskins/fifth of 38 seasons with Miners).
NIT Champion--Brigham Young (20-5; coached by Stan Watts/17th of 23 seasons with Cougars; finished in second place in WAC with a 6-4 record, which was one game behind Utah).
New Conference--Metropolitan Collegiate (disbanded after four years).
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans--Dave Bing, G, Sr., Syracuse (28.4 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 54.1 FG%, 80.2 FT%); Clyde Lee, C, Sr., Vanderbilt (22.7 ppg, 15.8 rpg); Cazzie Russell, G, Sr., Michigan (30.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 51.8 FG%, 82.5 FT%); Dave Schellhase, F, Sr., Purdue (32.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg); Jimmy Walker, G, Jr., Providence (24.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.5 apg, 50.8 FG%).
National Player of the Year--Russell (AP/UPI/USBWA).
National Coach of the Year--Adolph Rupp, Kentucky (27-2/UPI, USBWA).
The best team in the country might have been UCLA's freshman squad. The Bruins' frosh, led by 7-1 Lew Alcindor's 31 points and 21 rebounds, defeated the two-time NCAA champion UCLA varsity, 75-60. The yearlings compiled a 21-0 record, outscoring their opponents 113.2 points per game to 56.6. Starters for what is considered by some as the best freshman team in NCAA history included Alcindor (33.1 ppg and 21.5 rpg), forwards Lynn Shackelford (20.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg) and Kent Taylor (7.2 ppg) and guards Lucius Allen (22.4 ppg and 7.8 rpg) and Kenny Heitz (14.3 ppg).
It was a version of Dave's World for the national scoring championship. Purdue forward Dave Schellhase (32.54) edged Idaho State guard Dave Wagnon (32.50) in the closest race in major-college history. Wagnon, who averaged a modest 14.6 points per game the previous season as a junior, averaged 36.4 the second half of his senior campaign before falling one basket short of overhauling Schellhase. Purdue posted an 8-16 record, leaving Schellhase with the worst mark ever for an NCAA consensus first-team All-American. He had a national single-game high of 57 points against Michigan. Schellhase went on to coach Indiana State for three seasons in the mid-1980s.
Cazzie Russell set a Michigan record for most points in a regulation game with 48 against Northwestern. Also establishing school single-game scoring standards were Rutgers' Bob Lloyd (51 points at Delaware/later tied), Texas Tech's Dub Malaise (50 at Texas), North Carolina's Bob Lewis (49 vs. Florida State), Tennessee Tech's Ron Filipek (tied with 48 vs. Middle Tennessee State), Rice's Doug McKendrick (47 vs. Georgia Tech), Southern California's John Block (45 vs. Washington) and Murray State's Herb McPherson (44 vs. Middle Tennessee State). Lewis' outburst for Carolina capped a six-game stretch during which he averaged 36.1 points per game. McKendrick was Rice's only player to score in double figures in the contest against Georgia Tech.
Wagnon, Russell (30.8 ppg), Syracuse's Dave Bing (28.4), Illinois' Don Freeman (27.8) and Texas A&M's John Beasley (27.8) set school records for highest scoring average in a single season. Utah's Jerry Chambers established a Western Athletic Conference single-season record by averaging 28.8 points per game.
Syracuse, after failing to finish among the top 30 in the previous 12 scoring races, won its first national scoring title. The Orangemen finished in a final wire-service Top 20 poll for the first time. Bing grabbed a school-record 25 rebounds in a game against Cornell. . . . Jim Boeheim finished his Syracuse playing career with a 9.8-point scoring average before eventually becoming his alma mater's all-time winningest coach and capturing the NCAA championship in 2003.
Rutgers lost 18 consecutive contests to Princeton until edging the Tigers, 68-66. . . . Army participated in the NIT consolation game for the third consecutive season. Forward Mike Silliman was the Cadets' only All-American in a 41-year span from 1946 through 1986. Silliman earned such recognition despite missing half of the season because of a knee injury. . . . Bob Knight embarked on his acclaimed coaching career with an 18-8 record at Army, leading the Cadets to the NIT for the first of four times under him through 1970. Another head coaching newcomer with an 18-8 record was Lou Carnesecca at St. John's. . . . Holy Cross compiled its first losing season in 21 years (10-13). New Crusaders coach Jack Donohue had guided Power Memorial Academy in New York to a 163-30 record, including 71 consecutive victories with a center named Alcindor. . . . St. Joseph's, coached by Jack Ramsay, finished among the Top 20 in a final wire-service poll for the fifth time in eight seasons. . . . One of the most fabled shots in St. Joe's history came at the Palestra when seldom-used Steve Donches connected on a prayer at the final buzzer to give the Hawks a 71-69 victory over archrival Villanova. . . . Matt Guokas Jr., the second-leading scorer for a St. Joseph's NCAA playoff team for the second straight season, went on to coach with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic. He finished with a school record for highest assist average in a career (5.7 apg). . . . David Brown led Lafayette's football squad in receiving (6-3 end caught 31 passes for 479 yards and 4 TDs) before finishing 18th in the nation in scoring with 25.3 ppg.
Nebraska's string of losing records ended at 15 when the 20-5 Cornhuskers, coached by Joe Cipriano, finished in the Top 20 of a final wire-service poll for the only time until 1991. . . . Cincinnati, in Tay Baker's first year as coach of the Bearcats, captured the the Missouri Valley Conference crown after finishing in seventh place the previous season. . . . The MVC didn't have a team reach the NCAA Final Four or win the NIT for the first time in eight years. Louisville's Wes Unseld set a MVC single-season record by averaging 19.4 rebounds per game. . . . Three-year St. Louis letterman Randy Albrecht eventually coached the Billikens for three non-winning seasons in the mid-1970s. Albrecht went on to coach a local junior college (Meramec) to almost 700 victories, including 25 consecutive winning campaigns. . . . Loyola of Chicago, coached by George Ireland, finished among the top 11 in a final wire-service national poll for the fourth time in five years.
Michigan State, coached by John Benington, became Big Ten runner-up after finishing in the league basement the previous year. . . . Iowa ranked as high as fourth entering the new year but the Hawkeyes quickly fell out of the national polls after forward Gerry Jones (15.8 ppg) was declared academically ineligible early in the Big Ten campaign. . . . Donnie Freeman became Illinois coach Harry Combes' 16th different All-American. Combes was in his 19th of 20 seasons as Illini mentor. No other coach has ever had more than 13 All-Americans in his first 20 campaigns at a single school.
Miami (Ohio) forward Jerry Peirson, an All-Mid-American Conference first-team selection, went on to coach his alma mater in the NCAA playoffs in 1985 and 1986. . . . Ohio University, coached by Jim Snyder, placed among the top three in the Mid-American standings for the 10th straight year. . . . Art Kusnyer, who led Kent State in field-goal percentage (44.5%), eventually became a backup catcher for four different American League teams in the 1970s. . . . Dayton finished in a wire-service final Top 20 poll for the 11th time since the inception of national rankings in 1948-49. Kentucky (14) and Kansas State (12) were the only schools at that point to have more final Top 20 rankings than the Flyers. Prominent institutions such as Arkansas, Georgetown, Missouri, Oklahoma and Purdue had yet to reach that lofty status.
Ron Widby punted for Tennessee's football squad in the afternoon in its 27-6 triumph over Tulsa in the Bluebonnet Bowl and then flew to Shreveport, La., where he scored 18 points that for the Volunteers' basketball team in a 49-43 victory over Centenary in the championship game of the Gulf South Classic. Tennessee handed Kentucky its only regular-season defeat in their SEC finale (69-62). . . . Vanderbilt's Clyde Lee grabbed a school-record 28 rebounds against Mississippi. . . . Tulane competed as a member of the Southeastern Conference for the final season. . . . Jacksonville posted its lone victory over intrastate opponent Miami (Fla.) in a 22-game stretch of their series from 1959 through 1969. . . . Richmond registered its only triumph over Virginia Tech in a 17-game span of their series from 1962 to 1969 and Virginia notched its lone win over Virginia Tech in a 14-game stretch of their series from 1959 through 1969. . . . VMI forward Charlie Schmaus, a two-time All-Southern Conference first-team selection, went on to coach his alma mater for six seasons from 1976-77 through 1981-82, including an NCAA playoff appearance in his first year at the Keydets' helm. . . . A group of West Virginia players (Ed Harvard, Carl Head, Norman Holmes, Jimmy Lewis and Fritz Williams) became the first African Americans to play at the varsity level in the Southern Conference. . . . Guard Jim Lyttle, who led Florida State in free-throw shooting (75.9%) while averaging 12.4 ppg, went on to become a major league outfielder for eight years from 1969 through 1976.
Maryland guard Billy Jones became the first African American to compete in the ACC. . . . Steve Vacendak was named ACC player of the year despite being voted second team all-league. Vacendak finished ninth in the All-ACC balloting after averaging 13.3 points and four rebounds per game for Duke's 26-4 squad. He eventually became coach at Winthrop. . . . Duke, coached by Vic Bubas, defeated visiting and top-ranked UCLA on back-to-back days by a total of 35 points. . . . North Carolina State junior guard Eddie Biedenbach, an All-ACC first-team selection, eventually coached Davidson and UNC Asheville. . . . Sophomore John Naponick, a tackle on Virginia's football squad, led the Cavaliers in rebounding with 6.7 per game.
North Carolina attempted a slowdown game in an effort to upend heavily-favored Duke in the ACC Tournament semifinals but lost, 21-20. The Tar Heels trailed at halftime, 7-5. Entering the tourney, Duke was ranked No. 3 in the AP poll and No. 2 by UPI. No other ACC team was in the Top 20. Duke won its fourth consecutive undisputed regular-season championship although both of its ACC losses were to teams that finished in a three-way tie for last place (South Carolina and Wake Forest).
Rice's only victory of the season (82-70 verdict over Baylor) ended a school-record 28-game losing streak. . . . Texas A&M's Randy Matson, who finished third in field-goal shooting (54.9%) and fifth in rebounding (10 rpg) in Southwest Conference competition, went on to earn a gold medal in shot put in the 1968 Olympic Games. He was the Sullivan Award winner in 1967 as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete. . . . Colorado State, coached by Jim Williams, lost in the opening round of a national postseason tournament for the fifth time in six years. . . . Guard Pat Frink led Colorado in scoring three seasons this decade. When he missed this campaign because of a preseason knee injury, the Buffaloes absorbed their first losing Big Eight Conference record in eight years. . . . Oklahoma City (24-5/coached by Abe Lemons) had its winningest season in school Division I history. Hardin-Simmons (20-6/Lou Henson) tied its school Division I record for most victories in a single season.
Washington State, coached by Marv Harshman, compiled a 15-11 record for its first winning season in 14 years. . . . Oregon's 79-72 decision over UCLA was the Ducks' lone victory against the Bruins in a 21-game stretch of their series from 1954 to 1970. Meanwhile, UCLA began a 17-game winning streak in its series with Stanford. . . . Guard Jim Barnett became Oregon's only All-Pacific-8 first-team selection in an 11-year span from 1959 through 1969. . . . Montana, coached by Ron Nord, won 10 of 11 games down the stretch to finish with a 14-10 record and the Grizzlies' only winning season in a 10-year span from 1961-62 through 1970-71. . . . Utah, coached by Jack Gardner, won the WAC title after finishing in last place the previous season. . . . San Francisco's streak of West Coast Athletic Conference championships ended at three, but the runner-up Dons had three all-league first-team selections for the third straight year. . . . Hawaii was winless against a major-college schedule (0-18) although the Rainbows weren't officially classified as Division I until the 1970-71 season. . . . Weber State center Gene Visscher, a two-time All-Big Sky Conference first-team selection, went on to coach his alma mater for four seasons in the early 1970s, including two trips to the NCAA playoffs.
1966 NCAA Tournament
Summary: Texas Western, now called Texas-El Paso, put the finishing touches on dismantling the prejudiced myth that black athletes couldn't play disciplined basketball by capturing the NCAA title. Texas Western (28-1) had its winningest season in school history. The Miners' Don Haskins was a demanding coach who wouldn't let forward-center Nevil Shed, a transfer from North Carolina A&T, ride back to the hotel with the team after Shed was thrown out in the first half of their 78-76 overtime victory against Cincinnati in the second round. UTEP, featuring an all-black starting lineup with three players 6-1 or shorter in the NCAA final, stunned top-ranked and all-white Kentucky (72-65). Junior college transfer Bobby Joe Hill, one of the Miners' tiny trio, converted steals into layups on consecutive trips down the floor by flustered Kentucky guards to give them a lead they never relinquished. Acclaimed writer Frank Deford, covering the game for Sports Illustrated, said Wildcats coach Adolph Rupp allowed him "into the locker room with the understanding that if Kentucky lost, I wouldn't report on what I saw. Unfortunately, in his anger, Rupp referred to the Texas Western players as `coons.'" In the wake of UTEP's sterling on-court performance, major Southern schools started modifying their unwritten directives by recruiting more African-American players. In SI's July 15, 1968 issue, however, the magazine provided an in-depth look at a scandalous off-the-court situation at Texas-El Paso. Wrote novelist James Michener in Sports in America: "The El Paso story is one of the most wretched in the history of American sports. . . . The blacks who had been imported had been treated as poorly-paid gladiators, and of the seven black champions--no whites got into the final game--none had graduated. To maintain their eligibility, they had been encouraged to take Mickey Mouse courses of no possible substance which enabled them to get B grades but which did not count toward graduation credits in their major fields." Actually, four of the seven blacks eventually got their degrees.
Outcome for Defending Champion: UCLA (18-8) finished second in the AAWU behind Oregon State, failing to win the conference title for the only time in an 18-year span. The Bruins lost back-to-back games to Duke early in the season by a total of 35 points.
Star Gazing: Utah forward Jerry Chambers became the only Final Four Most Outstanding Player to play for a national fourth-place team. He scored a tourney-high 40 points in an 83-74 triumph over Pacific in the West Regional semifinals. Chambers' 38 points in the national semifinals was the highest single-game scoring output by an individual against Texas Western during the entire season. . . . Kentucky starting forward Larry Conley didn't eventually achieve the name recognition of Dick Vitale, but Conley was the other hoops analyst with ESPN from the cable network's inception. . . . Billy Jones, the first black player for Maryland and the ACC, was entertaining a recruit and the two watched the title game just two rows behind Kentucky's bench.
One and Only: Hill, a 5-10, is the shortest player to lead an NCAA champion in scoring average (15 points per game). Hill's 20.2-point average in five tournament games in 1966 doubled the regular-season mark in his career. . . . Utah, the only Western Athletic Conference school ever to reach the Final Four, lost in the national semifinals to future WAC member Texas-El Paso. . . . UTEP, the only school from Texas to capture an NCAA Division I basketball crown in the 20th Century, is the only current DI school never to have an NCAA consensus first- or second-team All-American in its history yet capture an NCAA Tournament title. . . . Utah is the only team to win an undisputed conference crown and reach the Final Four one year after finishing in a league cellar (Western Athletic).
Celebrity Status: Lonnie Wright, a cornerback who had five interceptions with the AFL's Denver Broncos in 1966 and 1967, was the leading scorer for Colorado State's NCAA Tournament teams in 1965 and 1966. He collected a total of 25 points and 10 rebounds in two NCAA playoff defeats. . . . David Palacio, a backup guard for Texas Western, became an executive vice president of EMI Latin, which is affiliated with Capitol Records in Hollywood, Calif. . . . Oregon State teammates Scott Eaton (defensive back in 1967) and Harry Gunner (defensive end in 1968) wound up being eighth-round selections and playing at least three seasons of professional football. In two playoff games against Houston and Utah, Eaton scored a total of 19 points and Gunner grabbed five rebounds. Eaton, the Beavers' third-leading scorer (9.9 points per game), intercepted 11 passes with the New York Giants while Gunner recorded a safety and returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown with the Cincinnati Bengals. . . . Jim Cymbala, who scored 19 points for Rhode Island in a first-round loss to Davidson, went on to become pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle, a megachurch numbering more than 10,000 members from all walks of life. He was nominated foor a 2002 Dove Award for Musical of the Year and, along with his wife, had three books on the best-selling list of the national religious clothbound non-fiction books (including Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire).
Numbers Game: Jack Gardner became the only coach to direct two different schools to the Final Four at least twice apiece--Kansas State (4th in 1948 and 2nd in 1951) and Utah (4th in 1961 and 4th in 1966). His record of three fourth-place finishes may never be duplicated since the consolation game was dropped after the 1981 season. . . . Elvin Hayes outrebounded Pacific's Keith Swagerty, 28-23, in Houston's 102-91 victory in the West Regional third-place game. Hayes, averaging more than 27 points per game on a team averaging almost 100, was restricted to 14 in a 63-60 setback against Oregon State, the nation's top defensive squad (54.5 ppg). . . . Texas Western had as many individuals with 20-point playoff games (six) as the Miners managed the entire regular season. . . . Six of Kentucky's top 11 scorers 12 years later in 1978 when the Wildcats captured the NCAA title were black athletes.
What Might Have Been: Providence (22-5) probably would have advanced farther in the playoffs if center Dexter Westbrook hadn't left for academic reasons. Westbrook, a teammate of All-American Jimmy Walker at Laurinburg Academy (N.C.), averaged 14.4 points per game the previous year with the Friars and led them in rebounding (12.1 rpg) and field-goal shooting (54.9%). . . . Utah lost two Final Four games by a total of just nine points despite the absence of second-leading scorer and rebounder George Fisher, who sustained a broken leg late in the season. Fisher finished the year with averages of 13.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. . . . Texas Western had to go into double overtime to nip Kansas, 81-80, in the Midwest Regional final. Jayhawks guard Jo Jo White drilled a 30-footer at the buzzer of the first overtime, but the shot was disallowed when a referee trailing the play saw him step out of bounds moments before releasing the ball. The Miners were accustomed to close games after four of five victories in a mid-season stretch were by fewer than five points. . . . UCLA might have had a run of 17 straight league championships through 1979 if forward Edgar Lacey, averaging 13.6 ppg and 9.1 rpg, didn't miss the final seven games of his junior season after suffering a hairline fracture in a knee.
NCAA Champion Defeat: At Seattle (2-point margin).
Scoring Leader: Jerry Chambers, Utah (143 points, 35.75 ppg).
Rebounding Leader: Jerry Chambers, Utah (56 rebounds, 14 rpg).
Highest Rebounding Average: Keith Swagerty, Pacific (42 rebounds, 21 rpg).
*Jerry Chambers, F, Sr., Utah (70 points, 35 rebounds in final two games)
Louie Dampier, G, Jr., Kentucky (42 points, 13 rebounds)
Bobby Joe Hill, G, Jr., Texas Western (31 points, seven rebounds)
Jack Marin, F, Sr., Duke (52 points, 15 rebounds)
Pat Riley, F, Jr., Kentucky (38 points, 12 rebounds)
*Named Most Outstanding Player.
Championship Team Results
First Round: Texas Western 89 (Hill team-high 24 points), Oklahoma City 74 (Hunter 21)
Regional Semifinal: Texas Western 78 (Lattin 29), Cincinnati 76 (West 19)*
Regional Final: Texas Western 81 (Hill 22), Kansas 80 (Wesley 24)**
National Semifinal: Texas Western 85 (Artis 22), Utah 78 (Chambers 38)
Championship Game: Texas Western 72 (Hill 20), Kentucky 65 (Dampier/Riley 19)