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At a Glance
NCAA Champion--Marquette (25-7; coached by Al McGuire/13th of 13 seasons with Warriors).
NIT Champion--St. Bonaventure (24-6; coached by Jim Satalin/fourth of nine seasons with Bonnies).
New Conference--Eastern Collegiate Basketball League (forerunner of Eastern 8 and Atlantic 10), New Jersey-New York 7 (disbanded three years later), Sun Belt.
New Rules--The dunk shot is allowed again after a nine-year exile. . . . NIT implements format whereby early-round games are played at locations across the country before the four semifinalists advance to New York.
NCAA Probation--Canisius, Centenary, Clemson, Denver, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Southwestern Louisiana, West Texas State.
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans--Kent Benson, C, Sr., Indiana (19.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 50.3 FG%); Otis Birdsong, G, Sr., Houston (30.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.8 spg, 56.9 FG%); Phil Ford, G, Jr., North Carolina (18.7 ppg, 6.6 apg, 1.7 spg, 53.4 FG%, 85.3 FT%); Rickey Green, G, Sr., Michigan (19.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.2 spg); Marques Johnson, F, Sr., UCLA (21.4 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 59.1 FG%); Bernard King, F, Jr., Tennessee (25.8 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 57.8 FG%).
National Player of the Year--Johnson (AP/UPI/NABC/USBWA/Naismith/Wooden).
National Coaches of the Year--San Francisco's Bob Gaillard (29-2/AP, UPI); North Carolina's Dean Smith (28-5/NABC), and Arkansas' Eddie Sutton (26-2/USBWA).
The first 38 NCAA national champions, from Oregon (29-5 record in 1938-39) through Indiana (the last unbeaten team with a 32-0 mark in 1975-76), averaged barely over two defeats per season. None of the titlists sustained more than six setbacks until Marquette's Al McGuire-coached squad won the title with a 25-7 worksheet. It was the final campaign in McGuire's coaching career, which included 20-win seasons each of his last 11 years. His average record in the last 10 years was 25-4. McGuire's eight previous Marquette teams incurred fewer defeats than his lone NCAA titlist. The Warriors' seven defeats were by an average of four points, including a 77-72 double-overtime setback to DePaul that snapped their 19-game winning streak over the Blue Demons.
"I like SRO (standing room only)," McGuire said. "You need charisma. There should be electricity. When I walk into the arena, the first thing I do is look at the four (most distant) corner seats. If those are sold, I've done my job."
In an amazing turnaround, New Mexico State trailed 28-0 before rallying to defeat Bradley, 117-109. It was the largest deficit before scoring for a team to overcome and still win a game (see accompanying box). New Mexico State coach Ken Hayes replaced his entire starting lineup when Bradley raced to a 16-0 lead and didn't reinsert them until the score was 24-0. Twice Hayes called timeout, and on another occasion--when the time clock quit working--he asked the referees for a new ball. "You can't just sit there and do nothing," Hayes said. The Aggies cut the Braves' lead to six at halftime (56-50), but the visitors didn't move in front until there was 3:22 remaining. "It's almost impossible to get a 28-0 lead on a good team," Bradley coach Joe Stowell said, "and it's almost impossible to lose a game once you do."
Transfer Larry Bird, who briefly attended Indiana, began to make a name for himself with Indiana State. He averaged 38.3 points per game in his last 15 outings to finish third in the nation in scoring. "A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals," Bird said. . . . Junior guard Roger Phegley was named Missouri Valley Conference player of the year although Bradley finished in sixth place with a 4-8 league record.
Oral Roberts senior Anthony Roberts, who averaged a modest 5.2 points per game as a freshman, finished runner-up in scoring (34 ppg) by averaging 37.3 over the last half of the season, including outbursts of 66 points (school-record vs. North Carolina A&T) and 65 (against Oregon in first round of NIT). The 65-point explosion, which accounted for 73 percent of ORU's scoring in a 90-89 defeat, is the highest-scoring output in NCAA Division I postseason history and established an NCAA record for highest percentage of a team's output in a single game vs. a Division I opponent (minimum of 40 points). Roberts' outburst is even more impressive because Oregon ranked fifth in the nation in team defense (60.9 ppg) and he sat out two minutes because of a nasty collison.
Portland State's Freeman Williams averaged 40.7 ppg from January 9 through the remainder of the season to lead the country with a 38.8 mark. Williams poured in 71 points against Southern Oregon--the highest total by a major collegian in 23 years. He averaged 35.3 points on a trip to the South when his team ended New Orleans' 21-game homecourt winning streak, North Texas State's 19-game home streak and Pan American's 20-game home streak in a five-day stretch. . . . Williams (38.8 ppg), Bird (32.8), Hofstra's Rich Laurel (30.3), Northeast Louisiana's Calvin Natt (29), Louisiana Tech's Mike McConathy (27.5), Northwestern State's Billy Reynolds (26.4), Nevada-Reno's Edgar Jones (24.7) and Hawaii's Gavin Smith (23.4) set school Division I records for highest scoring average in a single season. Laurel's mark was also an East Coast Conference standard. . . . Oregon's Greg Ballard set a school record with 43 points at Oral Roberts in the first round of the NIT. It was his third 40-point outing in a month. Also establishing school Division I single-game scoring standards were Stetson's Mel Daniels (48 points vs. UNC-Wilmington), Weber State's Stan Mayhew (45 vs. Utah State), NSU's Reynolds (42 at Lamar) and NE Louisiana's Calvin Natt (39 vs. Northwestern State). . . . An NCAA-high eight freshmen averaged at least 20 points per game--Holy Cross' Ronnie Perry (23 ppg), Old Dominion's Ronnie Valentine (22.4), Fairleigh Dickinson's Ken Webb (21.8), Southwestern Louisiana's Andrew Toney (21), James Madison's Steve Stielper (20.9), Furman's Jonathan Moore (20), Rhode Island's Sly Williams (20) and La Salle's Michael Brooks (20).
Toledo, en route to its first of five consecutive 20-plus win seasons, ended Indiana's 57-game regular-season winning streak, 59-57, in the inaugural game in the Rockets' Savage Hall. It was one of five consecutive victories posted by UT coach Bob Nichols over Big Ten Conference teams in the late 1970s. . . . Indiana center Kent Benson was named an All-American and Big Ten player of the year despite missing the Hoosiers' last four games because of a back injury that later required surgery. . . . UNC Charlotte (28-5/coached by Lee Rose), Virginia Military (26-4/Charlie Schmaus), Detroit (25-4/Dick Vitale), Idaho State (25-5/Jim Killingsworth) and Austin Peay State (24-4/Lake Kelly) had their winningest seasons in school Division I history.
Old Dominion had a school-record 22-game winning streak and the Monarchs' four defeats were by a total of only 13 points. . . . The Southern Conference's streak of 20 consecutive years with undisputed regular-season champions ended when Furman and VMI shared the title. . . . The last 18 VMI coaches have all-time losing records for the school. That's what makes the Keydets' lone appearance in the Top 20 of a final wire-service poll so remarkable (20th in AP). VMI wound up finishing with the worst record in the 20th Century among schools that competed at the Division I level a minimum of 50 seasons (663-1,184, .359). . . . Final Four-bound UNCC also finished in the Top 20 of a final wire-service poll for the only time in school annals. The 49ers' assists leader with six per game was Melvin Watkins, who went on to coach his alma mater and Texas A&M.
Minnesota, which was on NCAA probation, became the only college ever to have three teammates later average more than 20 points per game in any NBA season--Kevin McHale (12 ppg as a freshman), Mychal Thompson (22 ppg as a junior) and Ray Williams (18 ppg as a senior). Teammate Flip Saunders, who finished his career with an 8.2-point scoring average, went on to become coach of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves. . . . Minnesota transfer Mark Landsberger set an Arizona State single-game record with 27 rebounds against San Diego State. . . . LSU's Rudy Macklin (32 vs. Tulane), Northeast Louisiana's Calvin Natt (tied with 31 vs. Georgia Southern), Drake's Ken Harris (26 vs. Tulsa) and UNC Charlotte's Cedric Maxwell (tied with 24 at Seton Hall) established school single-game rebounding marks.
Wisconsin's Bill Cofield became the first African-American head coach in the Big Ten Conference. . . . Guard Billy McKinney became Northwestern's only All-Big Ten first-team selection in a 28-year span from 1967-68 through 1994-95. . . . Illinois (16-14), coached by Lou Henson, had more than half of its games decided by fewer than five points (8-8 mark in the close contests). . . . Bo Ellis, a three-time All-American who led Marquette in rebounding three straight seasons, went on to become coach at Chicago State. . . . Academic All-Mid-American Conference selection Dan Hipsher, who finished his Bowling Green career with averages of 5.7 points and four rebounds per game, eventually coached in the league for Akron. . . . Leonard Drake, Central Michigan's leading scorer for the second straight season, later coached his alma mater for four years in the mid-1990s.
Houston guard Otis Birdsong set a Southwest Conference record by averaging 30.3 points per game. . . . Texas-El Paso's streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons ended when the Miners compiled an 11-15 record. . . . Southwestern Louisiana (21-8/coached by Jim Hatfield) was the nation's most-improved team. The Ragin' Cajuns were 7-19 the previous season. . . . Louisiana Tech guard Mike McConathy, who led the Southland Conference in scoring for the second straight season en route to finishing his career with a 20.7-point scoring average, eventually coached in the league with Northwestern State (La.). . . . Centenary's Riley Wallace lost 10 games by fewer than four points in his first season as coach of his alma mater. . . . Dan Bell, who led Northwestern State in free-throw shooting (85.9%) in the Demons' inaugural season at the NCAA Division I level, went on to coach his alma mater to a victory at Kentucky in 1988-89. . . . Mississippi State was assessed a technical foul for a dunk during pregame warmups. In protest of the rule prohibiting dunks in warmups but allowing them in games, coach Abe Lemons of visiting Texas ordered Jim Krivacs, a career 87 percent free-throw shooter, to attempt the technical foul shot with his back to the basket. Krivacs missed. The Longhorns lost, 91-89.
Arkansas, earning its first appearance in the Top 20 of a final wire-service poll, participated in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 19 years after becoming the first SWC school in 21 seasons to go undefeated in league play. Arkansas, coached by Eddie Sutton, posted its first undisputed SWC regular-season championship in 36 years. Guards Sidney Moncrief (64.9 percent) and Ron Brewer (61 percent) finished among the top 10 nationally in field-goal shooting to help the Razorbacks lead the country in that category. The Hogs clinched the accuracy title by shooting 68 percent against Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament although they lost the game.
UCLA's Marques Johnson, the unanimous national player of the year, didn't mince words when he was asked to express what the return of the dunk meant to him. "It was like I was reborn," Johnson responded.
Notre Dame won at UCLA, 66-63, to snap the Bruins' 115-game nonconference homecourt winning streak. . . . San Francisco, undefeated until its final regular-season game at Notre Dame (93-82), was a first-round NCAA Tournament loser to UNLV.
West Virginia forward Bob Huggins, who would later coach Cincinnati and his alma mater to the Final Four, led the fledgling ECBL in free-throw shooting with a mark of 84.4 percent. . . . Forward Rod Griffin became the first Wake Forest player since 1955 to become an NCAA consensus first- or second-team All-American. The Demon Deacons (22-8), coached by Carl Tacy, had one-half of their games decided by fewer than six points (9-6 mark in that category). . . . John Kuester, running mate of North Carolina All-American guard Phil Ford, eventually coached Boston University and George Washington. . . . William & Mary, coached by George Balanis, finished in the first division of the Southern Conference in its final season as a member of the league. Furman, coached by Joe Williams, tied for first place in the SC after finishing seventh the previous year. . . . Richmond guard Kevin Eastman, averaging more than 12 points per game for the third straight season, went on to coach UNC Wilmington and Washington State. . . . George Washington lost 17 consecutive games to Maryland in their series until upending the Terrapins, 86-76. . . . LSU's Kenny Higgs set a still-standing SEC standard for assists per game with an 8.9 mark.
Ernie Kent, a starter for Oregon's third straight NIT team, eventually coached his alma mater to an NCAA regional final after directing St. Mary's to the 1997 NCAA Tournament. . . . Long Beach State, coached by Dwight Jones, captured its eighth consecutive Pacific Coast Athletic Association championship. . . . Nevada-Reno ended a streak of 10 straight losing seasons by compiling a 15-12 record under first-year Wolf Pack coach Jim Carey. . . . Brigham Young guards Veryl and Vance Law, sons of major league pitcher Vern Law, combined for more than 10 ppg for the third straight year. Vance went on to become an infielder for 11 major league seasons from 1980 through 1991. . . . San Diego State sophomore Mike Dodd, who led the PCAA in free-throw shooting (83.9 percent), became one of the premier players on the professional volleyball tour. . . . Hawaii-Hilo defeated Nebraska and New Mexico. . . . Junior college trasfer Danny Kaspar, who averaged seven points per game for North Texas State, went on to coach Stephen F. Austin.
Philadelphia Textile defeated Villanova for the second straight year. . . . Villanova's squad included three brothers (Keith, Larry and Reggie Herron). . . . Norm Nixon was named ECBL player of the year although Duquesne had a 3-7 regular-season league record. . . . Swingman Tony Hanson became Connecticut's only All-American in a 38-year span from 1956 through 1993. . . . Fairfield sophomore guard Joe DeSantis, who finished sixth in the nation in free-throw shooting (89.2 percent), eventually became coach at Quinnipiac (Conn.) when the school moved up to Division I at the end of the 20th Century. . . . Jim Baron, who led St. Bonaventure in assists for the second time in three years, went on to become coach at his alma mater and Rhode Island. . . . Pat Harris, Army's leader in free-throw percentage (76.1%) under coach Mike Krzyzewski, eventually coached his alma mater. . . . Jack Phelan, who led St. Francis (Pa.) in assists and scored 42 points against Duquesne, later coached Hartford for 11 seasons from 1981-82 through 1991-92. . . . American University captain Brad Greenberg went on to coach Radford after being an assistant in the NBA. His brother, Seth, was a backup player for Fairleigh Dickinson before coaching Long Beach State, South Florida and Virginia Tech to national postseason competition.
1977 NCAA Tournament
Summary: Tears of joy flowed for coach Al McGuire when Marquette won the championship in his farewell. The Warriors overcame halftime deficits to win their first three playoff games against Cincinnati, Kansas State and Wake Forest before trailing most of the second half against UNC Charlotte in the national semifinals. Marquette succeeded in the postseason despite losing an NCAA-champion high five home games, including its last three, to register the Warriors' worst record in 10 years. They lost those home games in Milwaukee Arena, where during one period McGuire's teams were 145-7, including an 81-game winning streak. McGuire, leaving the bench before the game was even over with tears running down his cheeks, pulled away from a hug by long-time assistant Hank Raymonds and made his way to the silence of the locker room. "I want to be alone," McGuire said. "I'm not afraid to cry. All I could think about at the end was--why me? After all the jocks and socks. All the odors in the locker room. All the fights in the gyms. Just the wildness of it all. And to have it end like this ..." McGuire is the only individual to twice direct a school to the Final Four (Marquette also appeared in 1974) after participating as a player in two NBA Finals (1952 and 1953 with the New York Knicks in his first two pro seasons).
Outcome for Defending Champion: Indiana (14-13) finished fourth in the Big Ten although two defeats to Minnesota were later deemed forfeit victories. The Hoosiers had their league-record 37-game winning streak in regular-season Big Ten competition snapped in their conference opener by Purdue, 80-63. They wound up losing their last four conference road games.
Star Gazing: Punctuating UNC Charlotte's 75-68 victory over top-ranked Michigan in the Mideast Regional final was freshman guard Chad Kinch's Jordanesque-type first-half dunk over Wolverines star Phil Hubbard. The slam seemed to send a message to the previous year's national runner-up that the 49ers wouldn't be intimidated.
Biggest Upset: Gene Bartow departed after only two seasons as John Wooden's successor following UCLA's 76-75 setback at Idaho State. The Bruins, ranked fourth by UPI entering the tourney, finished with a 24-5 record when guards Roy Hamilton and Brad Holland combined to hit just 8 of 24 field-goal attempts. Idaho State (25-5), prevailing despite shooting just 40.6 percent from the floor, received 27 points and 12 rebounds from Steve Hayes. Bartow did the unfathomable, leaving the country's most illustrious program to build one from the ground floor at Alabama-Birmingham. What most observers didn't know was that Bartow tripled his salary from a base of $33,000.
One and Only: Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell is the only player to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds for an NIT semifinalist one year and an NCAA semifinalist the next season. His UNC Charlotte coach, Lee Rose, became the only individual to coach teams in the NAIA Tournment, NCAA Division III Tournament, NCAA Division II Tournament, NIT and NCAA Division I Tournament. . . . UNLV is the only Final Four team to have as many as six players compile a double-digit season scoring average--forwards Eddie Owens (21.8 points per game) and Sam Smith (14.8); guards Glen Gondrezick (14.6), Reggie Theus (14.5) and Robert Smith (12.8), and center Lewis Brown (10.2). The Rebels, averaging 107.1 points as a team on their way to a national third-place finish, also had two other players come close to a double-figure scoring average--guard Tony Smith (9 ppg) and center Larry Moffett (8). Tony Smith was the only one of the eight players in UNLV's regular rotation never to appear in an NBA game.
Celebrity Status: Hofstra guard Arnold Coleman was the school's top wide receiver the previous two football seasons before playing in the NCAA playoffs against Notre Dame in the East Regional. Coleman led the basketball squad in assists with 4.9 per game.
Numbers Game: Mike O'Koren became the only freshman to score more than 30 points in a national semifinal or championship game. The North Carolina forward scored 31 in an 84-83 victory over UNLV in the national semifinals. O'Koren and his teammates enjoyed a 28-5 edge over the Rebels in free-throw attempts. . . . Hubbard hauled in a tourney-high 26 rebounds in Michigan's 86-81 victory over Detroit in the Mideast Regional semifinals. . . . Southern Illinois' Mike Glenn (35 points vs. Arizona), Michigan's Rickey Green (35 vs. Holy Cross) and Hofstra's Rich Laurel (35 vs. Notre Dame) tied for the highest-scoring game in the playoffs. . . . UCLA eliminated Louisville from the playoffs for the third time in six years. . . . Arkansas participated in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 19 years. . . . Kentucky guard Truman Claytor, who averaged a modest 6.6 points per game, erupted for a game-high 29 points in the Wildcats' 93-78 triumph over VMI in the East Regional semifinals.
What Might Have Been: Guards Phil Ford and John Kuester combined to score 28.4 points per game on 52.7 percent field-goal shooting for North Carolina. If only they combined for 20 points instead of 11 points on 5 of 16 field-goal shooting (31.3 percent) in the championship game, the Tar Heels could have defeated Marquette rather than losing 67-59. . . . National third-place finisher UNLV (29-3) was without Jackie Robinson, a medical redshirt (ankle operation) who led the Rebels in rebounding the previous year. . . . Notre Dame (22-7) would have had sufficient resources to avoid being edged by Carolina in the East Regional semifinals if Adrian Dantley hadn't defected to the NBA and if senior tri-captain Ray Martin didn't suffer a season-ending broken ankle in the sixth game of the year against Indiana. . . . Big Ten runner-up Minnesota, which defeated national champion Marquette on the Warriors' home court, was ineligible for the NCAA Tournament because of an NCAA probation. Minnesota (24-3) could also have boasted Mark Olberding if he didn't leave school two years earlier for the ABA after his freshman season. . . . Louisville was flying high with a 19-3 record before forward Larry Williams broke his foot against Tulsa in mid-February. The Cardinals went 2-4 to close out the season, erasing memories of an early-season victory at Marquette. . . . Holy Cross, playing without injured standout freshman guard Ronnie Perry (23 points per game), led top-ranked Michigan with less than five minutes remaining before succumbing in the opening round, 92-81. . . . UCLA (24-5) might not have been upset at Idaho State in the West Regional if Richard Washington didn't leave school early for the NBA. . . . Kansas (18-10) probably would have given Kansas State more of a challenge for the Big Eight title if Norm Cook had stayed in college and not turned pro early. . . . Oregon State (16-13), which tied for third place in the Pacific-8 after back-to-back second-place finishes behind UCLA Final Four teams, likely would have been postseason bound if forward-center Lonnie Shelton had remained in school instead of taking the hardship route to the pros. . . . Memphis State (20-9) probably would have participated in the NCAA playoffs rather than the NIT if John Gunn didn't take ill with a rare disease (Stevens-Johnson Syndrome). Gunn, who averaged 11 points and nine rebounds per game the previous two years for national postseason tournament teams, died midway through the season due to complications of the disease.
Putting Things in Perspective: North Carolina senior center Tommy LaGarde was averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game when he injured a knee at midseason and was lost for the remainder of the year. Teammate Phil Ford, a first-team consensus All-American and Carolina's leading scorer, hyperextended his shooting elbow (right) in the East Regional semifinals and scored a total of just 20 points in the team's last three playoff games, including six points on 3 of 10 field-goal shooting in a national final defeat against Marquette.
NCAA Champion Defeats: Louisville (3-point margin in OT), Minnesota (7), at Cincinnati (1), DePaul (5 in 2OT), Detroit (1), Wichita State (11), and at Michigan (1). DePaul's victory was sparked by center Dave Corzine's 26 points, the highest output during the season by an individual opponent against Marquette.
Scoring Leader: Cedric Maxwell, UNC Charlotte (123 points, 24.6 ppg).
Highest Scoring Average: Mike Glenn, Southern Illinois (65 points, 32.5 ppg).
Rebounding Leader: Cedric Maxwell, UNC Charlotte (64 rebounds, 12.8 rpg).
Highest Rebounding Average: Phil Hubbard, Michigan (45 rebounds, 15 rpg).
Walter Davis, F, Sr., North Carolina (39 points, 13 rebounds in final two games)
Bo Ellis, F, Sr., Marquette (18 points, 14 rebounds)
*Butch Lee, G, Jr., Marquette (30 points, six rebounds)
Cedric Maxwell, C, Sr., UNC Charlotte (47 points, 28 rebounds)
Mike O'Koren, F, Fr., North Carolina (45 points, 19 rebounds)
Jerome Whitehead, C, Jr., Marquette (29 points, 27 rebounds)
*Named Most Outstanding Player.
Championship Team Results
First Round: Marquette 66 (Ellis team-high 17 points), Cincinnati 51 (Miller 20)
Regional Semifinal: Marquette 67 (Lee 26), Kansas State 66 (Dassie 18)
Regional Final: Marquette 82 (Ellis 20), Wake Forest 68 (Schellenberg 19)
National Semifinal: Marquette 51 (Whitehead 21), UNC Charlotte 49 (Maxwell 17)
Championship Game: Marquette 67 (Lee 19), North Carolina 59 (Davis 20)