Remembering Anthony Davis, other past Final Four legends
The NCAA Final Four has produced numerous highlights, many upsets and classic moments that have stood the test of time. I’ll list but a few here, starting with a pair of current New Orleans Pelicans.
Anthony Davis, now an NBA superstar in New Orleans. was 7 out of 8 from the floor in scoring 18 points, leading Kentucky to a 69-61 win over Louisville in the 2012 semifinals in the Superdome. The Brow added 12 boards and 5 blocks The Wildcat to beat UK’s in-state rivals.
The Wildcats then topped Kansas 67-59 in the final, giving John Calipari his first national championship and Kentucky’s eighth overall title in school history.
For the season, Davis averaged 13.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game.
Pelicans center Emeka Okafor had 24 points and 15 rebounds to pace UConn to an 82-73 victory over Jarrett Jack and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the 2005 title game at the Alamo Dome.
UConn head coach Jim Calhoun celebrated his second National championship with the win. Point guard Ben Gordon chipped in with 21 points for the Huskies.
In 1978, a Final Four to remember for Kentucky’s Jack “Goose” Givens led to title glory. He was 10 of 16 from the floor for 23 points and chipped in nine rebounds to lead the ‘Cats a 64-59 win over Arkansas in the semifinals. Two nights later, Givens put on a show, pouring in 41 points in a 94-88 win over Duke. The Blue Devils were led by center Mike Gminski and Gene Banks.
New Orleans native and former Brother Martin center Rick Robey had 11 rebounds in the win over Duke. Wildcats head coach Joe B. Hall had a powerful lineup, with Kyle Macy and Givens in the backcourt plus the 6-foot-11 Robey and 6-10 Mike Phillips in the paint as well as James Lee on the wing.
Former New Orleans Jazz guard Gail Goodrich lit up the scoreboard for 42 points in the 1965 Final Four title game for the the UCLA Bruins, led by legendary coach John Wooden. UCLA bested Michigan 90-81 in the championship. The Wolverines were led by All-American Cazzie Russell and power forward Bill Buntin.
Goodrich averaged 24.8 points per game throughout the ’65 season. The previous year, Goodrich put on another show, scoring 27 points in a championship game win over Duke. John Wooden captured 10 national titles at UCLA.
Who can forget Bill Walton brilliant performance in the 1973 final. The 6-11 College Player of the Year was unstoppable going 21 of 22 against Memphis State in UCLA’s 87-66 triumph. Memphis had 6-9 All American Larry Kenon but not enough to keep the Bruins from their seventh title. The Tigers were coached by Gene Bartow, who would eventually wind up at UCLA following Wooden’s retirement.
UCLA had topped Indiana in the ’73 semifinals. The Hoosiers were coached by Bobby Knight, who made his first appearance in the Final Four that year.
The Bruins starting quintet included Walton in the middle, flanked by Jamal Wilkes and Larry Farmer. Larry Hollyfield and Tommy Curtis operated in the backcourt.
Danny Manning had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in the 66-59 victory over Duke in the 1988 semis for Jayhawks coach Larry Brown. Manning scored 31 points and tallied 18 boards in the 83-79 title game win over Oklahoma. Manning averaged 24.8 points for the season, carrying the No. 6 seed to a title.
Prior to the era of the three-point shot, West Virginia’s All American guard Jerry West scored 160 points in five games of the tournament in 1959. The Mountaineers fell short of cutting down the nets, losing to California in the championship game. West Virginia was coached by legendary Fred Schaus.
Glen Rice scored 184 points in six contests during March Madness in 1989, including 27 three-pointers. Rice had 31 points in the championship tilt as Michigan downed Seton Hall in a thriller, 80-79. Most fans recall Rumeal Robinson’s free throws to seal the win in overtime.
Lew Alcindor, before he was known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, scored 37 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in a 92-72 victory over All American sharpshooter Rick Mount and the Purdue Boilermakers on March 24, 1969. UCLA had edged Duke in the semifinals, 85-82. You may recall that dunking was not allowed in college basketball at that time, and dominant big men like Alcindor were the primary reason. Yet the skilled artist soon to be known as Kareem averaged 24 points and 14.7 rebounds for the season. He was joined by starters Lyn Shackleford (6-5) and Sidney Wicks (6-8), Curtis Rowe (6-7) and John Vallely (6-2). Vallely, called “Money Man,” chipped in with 22 points in the Finals.
What golden memories from new heros will this year’s Final Four produce?
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…