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At a Glance
NCAA Champion--Kentucky (30-2; coached by Joe B. Hall/sixth of 13 seasons with Wildcats; won SEC title by three games with a 16-2 record).
NIT Champion--Texas (26-5; coached by Abe Lemons/second of six seasons with Longhorns; tied for first place in SWC with a 14-2 record).
New Rule--A seeding process is used in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. A maximum of four automatically-qualifying conference teams are seeded in each of the four regional brackets. These teams are seeded based on their respective conferences' won-lost records in tournament play the previous five years. At-large seeding in each region is based on won-lost records, strength of schedule, and eligibility status of student-athletes for postseason competition.
NCAA Probation--Centenary, Clemson, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, UNLV, Western Carolina.
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans--Larry Bird, F, Jr., Indiana State (30 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 52.4 FG%); Phil Ford, G, Sr., North Carolina (20.8 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.8 spg, 52.7 FG%, 81 FT%); David Greenwood, F, Jr., UCLA (17.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 53.8 FG%); Butch Lee, G, Sr., Marquette (17.7 ppg, 4.9 apg, 50.6 FG%, 87.9 FT%); Mychal Thompson, C, Sr., Minnesota (22 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 53.6 FG%).
National Players of the Year--Ford (NABC/USBWA/Wooden) and Lee (AP/UPI/Naismith).
National Coaches of the Year--Duke's Bill Foster (27-7/shared NABC); Texas' Abe Lemons (26-5/shared NABC); DePaul's Ray Meyer (27-3/USBWA), and Arkansas' Eddie Sutton (32-4/AP, UPI).
Evansville's initial year at the Division I level ended in tragedy when coach Bobby Watson and 13 members of his Purple Aces squad perished in a plane crash moments after taking off en route to their fifth game of the season. Someone forgot to remove the rudder lock, which combined with improper weight distribution caused the tail of the plane to spin out of control. The DC3 charter out of Indianapolis was slated to take Notre Dame back to South Bend after a game at Indiana before inclement weather modified schedules. The Aces' lone victory in their first four outings was a 90-83 verdict over Pittsburgh, which finished the season with a winning record (16-11) and tied for third place in the Eastern 8. Watson, a Vietnam veteran with five Purple Hearts, was hired after former Evansville All-American Jerry Sloan, who went on to a distinguished coaching career with the Utah Jazz, had been named coach of the Purple Aces before abruptly changing his mind. Mike Duff, hailed as Evansville's most promising player, was among those who died. Duff signed with Missouri but changed his mind and was able to immediately attend Evansville because the Aces weren't affiliated with the national letter of intent. Dick Walters was appointed Watson's successor and guided the Aces to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1982.
The North-South Doubleheader in Charlotte, N.C., became a watershed event in Furman history. The Paladins, after losing their first 16 games to North Carolina, defeated the Tar Heels, 89-83. Then, they posted their lone victory over North Carolina State (68-67) in a 29-game stretch of their series from 1940 through 1986. . . . North Carolina set an NCAA record for highest field-goal percentage in a half by hitting 16 of 17 shots (94.1 percent) after intermission against Virginia. . . . National player of the year Phil Ford was so adroit at running Carolina's Four Corners spread offense that it was called the "Ford Corners." . . . Mike Gminski, the first player in major-college history to score 1,000 points before his 19th birthday, helped power Duke to a second-place finish in the ACC after the Blue Devils finished in a tie for last the previous year.
North Carolina A&T, which compiled a 3-24 record the previous season, improved by 16 1/2 games to 20-8. . . . Appalachian State, coached by Bobby Cremins, ended UNC Charlotte's 60-game homecourt winning streak, 71-64. . . . Rutgers started a 15-game winning streak in its series with Massachusetts. . . . Forward Sly Williams became Rhode Island's first All-American in 32 years. URI (24-7), coached by Jack Kraft, won six times in an eight-game stretch the first half of the season when all of the contests were decided by fewer than six points. . . . Lefthander Mike Stenhouse, who averaged 4.1 ppg with Harvard, became a first-round pick in the 1979 amateur baseball draft before playing five major-league seasons from 1982 through 1986 as a first baseman-outfielder. His father, Dave, was a three-time All-Yankee Conference basketball selection before pitching with the Washington Senators in three seasons from 1962 through 1964.
UNLV's 72-game homecourt winning streak, which started in 1974, was snapped by New Mexico, 89-76. Before the season started, Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian filed suit and was granted an injunction to retain his job after the NCAA placed UNLV on probation for 18 rules violations and recommended that Tarkanian be suspended for two years. . . . New Mexico's Marvin Johnson set a Western Athletic Conference record for most points in a league game with a school-record 50 against Colorado State. CSU, however, compiled its only winning WAC record (8-6) in the Rams' first 14 years in the conference. . . . Arizona and Arizona State each compiled a 6-8 mark in WAC competition in their final season as members of the league. . . . California (11-16), in Dick Edwards' final year as coach, had seven of 10 games in a mid-season stretch decided by fewer than three points.
Portland State guard Freeman Williams became the first major collegian to average more than 30 points per game in his career while playing four seasons in Division I. The senior scored a school-record 81 points against Rocky Mountain. He had 41 games in his career with at least 35 points. . . . West Chester State's Joe Senser, the country's No. 3 pass receiver in Division II football in the fall, led the nation in field-goal accuracy for the second consecutive year. Senser was a tight end with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings when he was selected for the Pro Bowl following the 1981 season after catching 79 passes for 1,004 yards and eight touchdowns. . . . Minnesota's Mychal Thompson led the Big Ten Conference in scoring and rebounding, but finished his career as the last NCAA consensus first-team All-American to never participate in the NCAA Tournament.
All five LSU starters fouled out, but the Tigers defeated NCAA champion-to-be Kentucky, 95-94, in overtime. . . . Guard Ron Brewer and swingman Sidney Moncrief became Arkansas' first All-Americans in 30 years. . . . South Alabama's stall didn't prevent the Jaguars from losing to New Orleans, 22-20, on Nate Mills' last-second jumper in the final of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The next season, the Sun Belt became the first league to experiment with a 45-second shot clock. . . . Eugene Harris, who averaged 12.1 ppg for Florida State, went on to coach Florida A&M. . . . Atlee Hammaker, who averaged 4.9 ppg for East Tennessee State in its final campaign as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, went on to pitch for the San Francisco Giants when he led the National League in ERA in 1983 and appeared in the 1989 World Series.
Georgetown, coached by John Thompson, earned a spot in the Top 20 of a final wire-service poll for the first time in school history (20th in UPI). Thompson was in his sixth season as bench boss of the Hoyas. They started what became a 17-game winning streak in their series with Seton Hall after dropping six of their previous seven decisions against the Pirates. . . . Junior Kevin Bannon, who led St. Peter's in assists, eventually coached three other colleges in New Jersey (Trenton State, Rider and Rutgers). . . . St. Francis (N.Y.) compiled its first winning record in 11 seasons (16-9). . . . Dennis Wolff, who paced Connecticut in free-throw accuracy (84%), went on to coach Boston University to the NCAA playoffs. . . . La Salle co-captain Joe Mihalich later coached Niagara. . . . Junior forward Tic Price, Virginia Tech's leader in field-goal shooting (52.9%), eventually coached New Orleans and Memphis.
East Carolina's Oliver Mack (47 points vs. USC-Aiken) set a school Division I single-game scoring standard. Jackson State's Purvis Short (29.5 ppg), ECU's Mack (27.9), Northeastern's Dave Caligaris (24.6), Montana's Michael Ray Richardson (24.2), UNC Wilmington's Denny Fields (22.5) and Northern Arizona's David Henson (19.6) established school Division I records for highest scoring average in a single season. VMI's Ron Carter had 19 consecutive games with 20 points or more.
Michigan State, coached by Jud Heathcote, finished in the Top 20 of a final wire-service poll and participated in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1959. Freshman sensation Magic Johnson helped the Spartans improve by an amazing 11 1/2 games from the previous season. . . . Miami (Ohio) lost four of five games in a mid-season tailspin but the Redskins (19-9/coached by Darrell Hedric) finished in the final top 20 of a wire-service poll for the only time in school history. Miami senior forward Randy Ayers, a second-team All-Mid-American Conference selection, was named national coach of the year with Ohio State in 1990-91 and guided the Buckeyes to the 1992 Southeast Regional final. . . . Oklahoma State lost 15 consecutive games to Kansas State in their series until edging the Wildcats, 67-65. . . . Iowa State co-captain Ricky Byrdsong eventually coached Detroit and Northwestern. . . . Future longtime NBA players Orlando Woolridge, Bill Laimbeer and Bill Hanzlik were backups for Notre Dame's only Final Four team. . . . Creighton, after a 29-year absence, captured the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles in its first year back in league competition. Rick Apke, brother of Bluejays coach Tom Apke, was the team's leading scorer for the third consecutive year. They defeated Larry Bird-led Indiana State three times, including one game by a 32-point margin. . . . Indiana State lost five straight mid-season contests earlier in the campaign.
Portland, coached by Jack Avina, compiled its only record with fewer than 10 defeats (19-8) since the 1963-64 campaign by posting a 10-3 mark in games decided by fewer than six points. But the Pilots lost to small-school power Puget Sound (Wash.) for the 10th consecutive year. . . . Air Force registered its last winning season of the 20th Century (15-10/coached by Hank Egan). It was the only time in the last 39 years of the century that USAF and the two other major service academys--Army (14-11/Mike Krzyzewski) and Navy (14-11/Bob Hamilton)--each posted a winning mark in the same season. . . . Boise State guard Trent Johnson, an All-Big Sky second-team selection, went on to become coach at Nevada as the century came to a close before accepting similar jobs at Stanford and LSU. . . . Fresno State went from last place the previous season in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association to a tie for first under first-year Bulldogs coach Boyd Grant.
Cal State Fullerton (23-9/coached by Bobby Dye) had its winningest season in school Division I history. Detroit (25-4/David Gaines) and Pan American (22-4/Bill White) tied their school records for most victories in a single Division I season.
Southern California's Cliff Robinson (28 vs. Portland State/subsequently tied) and Appalachian State's Tony Searcy (24 vs. High Point) set school Division I single-game rebounding records. . . . Alabama's Reggie King had a string of 13 consecutive games with at least 10 rebounds. . . . Southern Mississippi, coached by second-year mentor M.K. Turk, ended its streak of seven consecutive losing seasons by compiling a 13-12 record. . . . West Virginia opposed intrastate rival Marshall for the first time in 47 seasons and Nebraska met intrastate foe Creighton for the first time in 46 seasons.
Purdue's Fred Schaus, who previously coached West Virginia, chose to enter athletic administration, ending his 12-year coaching career with a 251-96 record. The Boilermakers finished in the first division of the Big Ten but they were drubbed in a non-conference game at Indiana State, 91-63, when the Sycamores' Larry Bird collected 26 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists. . . . Chuck Daly left Penn six weeks before the start of the season to become an assistant coach under Billy Cunningham with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Quakers promoted assistant Bob Weinhauer to succeed Daly. . . . Ray Mears, who never had a losing record in his 21-year career at Wittenberg and Tennessee, did not coach the Volunteers because of exhaustion. He then got out of the coaching profession with a 399-135 record.
1978 NCAA Tournament
Summary: Jack Givens sank 18 of 27 field-goal attempts against Duke's zone defense and scored Kentucky's last 16 points of the first half en route to a 41-point performance in a 94-88 triumph in the final. Givens and three different teammates comprised the four different players to lead Kentucky in scoring in the four previous tourney games. It marked the vaunted Wildcats' lone NCAA championship in a 37-year span from 1959 through 1995. The basketball gods might have preordained the title as a tribute to former UK coach Adolph Rupp, who passed away early in the season (December 11, 1977). Neither of Kentucky's top two point producers--Givens or Rick Robey--led the Wildcats in scoring in any of their first three playoff victories that propelled them to the Final Four. Duke, after finishing in last place in the ACC regular-season standings the previous four years, improved to second one game behind North Carolina before winning the ACC Tournament and reaching the Final Four.
Outcome for Defending Champion: Marquette (24-4), making its eighth of 10 consecutive tournament appearances, wasted a five-point, halftime lead and lost in the first round of the Mideast Regional against Miami, OH (84-81 in overtime). Former Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State coach Randy Ayers collected 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Redskins to help offset national player of the year Butch Lee's 27 points for Marquette.
Star Gazing: DePaul center Dave Corzine scored a tourney-high 46 points in a 90-89 victory over Louisville in the Midwest Regional semifinals. Corzine is the only individual ever to score at least 45 points in the NCAA playoffs and never become an NCAA first- or second-team consensus All-American or Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Corzine broke his finger the day before the regional final and the Blue Demons succumbed to Notre Dame, 84-64. . . . Notre Dame sophomore backup Bill Hanzlik went on to become an NBA first-round draft choice and coach of the Denver Nuggets.
Biggest Upset: Cal State Fullerton (23-9) had four players score from 18 to 23 points and made 62.1 percent of its field-goal attempts to erase a six-point, halftime deficit and upend fourth-ranked New Mexico, 90-85, in a West Regional opener. Future Lakers standout Michael Cooper had an off-game for the Lobos (24-4), sinking just six of 15 field-goal attempts. In the second round, Cal State Fullerton overcame a 12-point deficit at intermission to notch a 75-72 triumph over San Francisco (ranked 11th by AP and 13th by UPI). Incredibly, the Titans almost erased a 15-point, halftime deficit in the regional final before losing, 61-58, against Arkansas (ranked 5th by AP and 6th by UPI). Fullerton, participating in its only NCAA playoff, fell short because of 40.3 percent field-goal shooting compared to 61.7 percent for the Razorbacks.
One and Only: Guard Bob Bender, a member of Indiana's 1976 unbeaten NCAA champion before transferring to Duke, became the only player in NCAA Tournament history to play for two different teams in the championship game.
Celebrity Status: Leonard Mitchell, a 6-7, 260-pound defensive end, was a first-round NFL draft choice who played seven seasons (1981-87) with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. After leading Houston in QB sacks with eight, he played briefly as a freshman center for the Cougars in their 100-77 opening-round setback to Final Four-team-to-be Notre Dame. . . . Swingman Ulice Payne, who went on to become President/Wisconsin World Trade Center, Commissioner of Securities for Wisconsin and honorary consul to Botswana, collected 11 points, four rebounds and four assists for defending NCAA champion Marquette when the Warriors were eliminated in the opening round by Miami (Ohio). . . . John Shoemaker, who tied eventual Ohio State and NBA coach Randy Ayers with a team-high 20 points in the 84-81 victory over Marquette before Miami was eliminated in the next round by eventual titlist Kentucky, went on to compile more than 2,000 career victories as a minor-league manager in the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization.
Numbers Game: None of the five NCAA consensus first-team All-Americans advanced to a regional final, let alone the Final Four. . . . Eight of 11 conference regular-season champions failed to win their league postseason tournament. . . . St. John's George Johnson grabbed a tourney-high 20 rebounds in a 76-68 loss to Louisville in the opening round of the Midwest Regional. . . . UCLA defeated Kansas in the playoffs for the third time in the '70s with an 83-76 triumph in the first round of the West Regional. The Jayhawks won the Big Eight Conference regular-season crown, but squandered a home-court advantage in the Midwest Regional by losing to Kansas State in the Big Eight Tournament after whipping the Wildcats three times earlier in the year. . . . Arkansas was the first Southwest Conference member in 22 years to reach the Final Four. . . . Duke coach Bill E. Foster posted his first NCAA playoff victory in his 15th major-college season.
What Might Have Been: Arkansas' acclaimed trio - guard Ron Brewer, swingman Sidney Moncrief and forward Marvin Delph - combined to shoot 55.7% from the floor during the season. If only they collaborated to hit half of their field-goal attempts instead of 41.7% (15 of 36) in the national semifinals, the Razorbacks could have defeated eventual champion Kentucky rather than losing 64-59. Also, the Hogs' depth was hurt when freshman backup guard Michael Watley quit before the Final Four because of a lack of playing time earlier in the playoffs. . . . The Wildcats were fortunate to overcome a five-point halftime deficit in their previous game, a 52-49 victory against Michigan State in the Mideast Regional final. Spartans freshman sensation Magic Johnson hit just two of 10 field-goal attempts and committed six turnovers. Johnson shot a lowly 27.8% from the floor (10 of 36) in three tourney games. . . . Phil Hubbard, projected as a first-team All-American for defending Big Ten champion Michigan, missed the season after undergoing knee surgery. The Wolverines went 16-11. . . . New Mexico (24-4) might have lived up to high poll ranking in playoffs if guard Phil Spradling didn't miss season because of a broken foot. He wound up attending a J.C. before averaging 11.4 ppg for Tulsa's 1981 NIT titlist. . . . North Carolina State (21-10) might have wound up in the NCAA playoffs instead of the NIT if Kenny Carr didn't forgo his final season of eligibility to turn pro. . . . The average margin of defeat for NIT champion Texas (26-5), coached by Abe Lemons, was only 3.6 points. The Longhorns lost to homestanding Houston, 92-90, in the SWC Tournament final.
NCAA Champion Defeats: At Alabama (16-point margin) and at LSU (1 in OT). The highest-scoring output by an individual opponent against Kentucky was 39 points by Portland State's Freeman Williams.
Scoring Leader: Mike Gminski, Duke (109 points, 21.8 ppg).
Highest Scoring Average: Dave Corzine, DePaul (82 points, 27.3 ppg).
Rebounding Leader: Gene Banks, Duke (50 rebounds, 10 rpg).
Highest Rebounding Average: Greg Kelser, Michigan State (37 rebounds, 12.3 rpg).
Ron Brewer, G, Sr., Arkansas (36 points, 11 rebounds in final two games)
*Jack Givens, F, Sr., Kentucky (64 points, 17 rebounds)
Mike Gminski, C, Soph., Duke (49 points, 17 rebounds)
Rick Robey, F-C, Sr., Kentucky (28 points, 19 rebounds)
Jim Spanarkel, G, Jr., Duke (41 points, eight assists)
*Named Most Outstanding Player.
Championship Team Results
First Round: Kentucky 85 (Claytor team-high 16 points), Florida State 76 (Dillard 21)
Regional Semifinal: Kentucky 91 (Phillips 24), Miami (Ohio) 69 (Ayers 18)
Regional Final: Kentucky 52 (Macy 18), Michigan State 49 (Kelser 19)
National Semifinal: Kentucky 64 (Givens 23), Arkansas 59 (Brewer 16)
Championship Game: Kentucky 94 (Givens 41), Duke 88 (Banks 22)