Thursday, April 15, 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
After the championships in collegiate basketball were completed on April 6, the question surfaced – Are there any dynasties in collegiate basketball? There is a chance that the case can be made.
The NCAA Women’s Division I started its present form of playoffs back in 1982. The Final Four that year was comprised of Louisiana Tech, Cheyney, Maryland and Tennessee. Tech won that tournament, coached by Sonya Hogg. It beat Cheyney.
The Lady Trojans of USC, coached by Linda Sharp, was the first team to go back to back in ’83 and ’84.They beat Tech the first year and Tennessee the second. Tech made the Final Four five times between ’83 and 1990.
Old Dominion stunned the women’s Division I world in 1985 when it beat Georgia for the title.
The Pat Summitt era began in 1987 when she led the Lady Vols over Tech for her first title. They would go on to win eight crowns under the masterful techniques of Summitt, who took Tennessee to the Final Four a record 17 times up to 2010. She won three straight titles between ’87 and 2007, those being registered in ’96, ’97 and ’98.
Geno Auriemma and the Lady Huskies began crashing the Big Dance in 1991 when they made the Final Four. They grabbed their first title in ’95 when they beat Tennessee. Auriemma would duplicate Summitt’s three-peat in ’02, ’03 and ’04, beating the Lady Vols in ’03 and ’04. The Lady Huskies are well on the way to a second three-peat. And Geno is one title away from tying Summitt’s eight.
The building of power house teams in the men’s Division I could be said to date back to 1939. Although that is the year which could be said to precede the “March Madness” we enjoy today, the format of selection underwent a myriad of evolutions. From 1901 to 1941, champions in the NCAA were selected, retroactively, by what was known as the Helms Foundation. The foundation stopped its selections in 1982.
The format started as an “Elite Eight,” then a “Sweet Sixteen” and finally the field of 65 in 2001 (And, don’t faint, but there is talk of a field of 96 in the future).
The first title holder in 1939 was Oregon with a win over Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State, guided by Hank Iba, would be the first team to go back to back in ’45 and ’46. Then the Kentucky Wildcats under the renowned Adolph Rupp would repeat in ’48 and ’49. As great a program builder that he was, Rupp would have to share the basketball mogul title with John Wooden of UCLA. No one to date has matched the string of titles knitted by Coach Wooden. He dominated the field for an entire decade. During that time, UCLA failed to make and win the title game one time in 1964.
That is why to this day, when names of “dynasty teams and coaches” are thrown out, the Summits, Auriemmas and Rupps will most certainly be prefaced by John Wooden.
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