Former University of New Orleans star Ardith Wearren passes away
An outstanding staple of outstanding teams at the University of New Orleans in the 1970s has passed away.
Ardith Wearren died on Monday, June 1 at his home in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was 64.
Wearren signed with the University of New Orleans out of George Washington High School in Indianapolis. He played for the Privateers under Ron Greene from 1974-78 at a time when UNO transitioned from Division II to Division I status.
In the 1974-75 season, UNO finished as national runner-up in Division II as the Privateers fell 76-74 to Old Dominion in the national championship game at Evansville, Indiana on a Privateer team led by Wilbur Holland as UNO finished 23-7.
In the 1975-76 season, New Orleans moved up to Division I and went 18-8.
In the 1976-77 season, the Privateers became a member of the Sun Belt Conference and posted an 18-10 record and finished second in the Sun Belt Conference at 4-2.
Greene departed for Mississippi State following the 1976-77 season and Butch Van Breda Kolff took over for the 1977-78 season.
Fielding one of their best teams in program history, the Privateers went 21-6 and won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, beating South Alabama 22-20 in the championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Three of the losses that season came in overtime and three of the losses came by one point.
In that season, New Orleans defeated LSU in Baton Rouge and downed Tulane as Wearren was outstanding, teaming with future NBA star Wayne Cooper to form a huge, formidable, talented front line of players that were 6-foot-11 and 6-10, respectively.
The conference championship game in Charlotte went a long way toward a rules change on the NCAA level.
South Alabama chose to hold the ball for most of the game in an attempt to slow down the more talented, taller Privateers, resulting in just 42 points scored in the game.
After experimenting with it for two seasons, the NCAA implemented 45 second shot clock by 1985 to eliminate stalling. That was reduced to 35 seconds by 1993.
Unfortunately, since UNO was only in its second year of being in the Sun Belt Conference, it did not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and one of the best teams in school history was left out of the postseason. That team included Wearren, Cooper, Nate Mills, Rico Weaver, Jordan Crump, Heyward Hewitt, Mike Edwards and Lloyd Terry, among others.
Wearren led UNO in rebounds in the 1974-75 season and led the team in field goal percentage in the 1976-77 season.
Wearren went on to play professional basketball in Belgium, England and France.
Wearren is survived by his wife, Monica.
Click here for the obituary.
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