Recently, fellow poster, Hari Seldon, pointed out that many of the younger generation, don’t really care about what happened years ago, don’t really care that Unitas went to UofL, don’t really care about history. He was correct, of course, but that doesn’t make it right.
So we play Cincy today. Huggins, Thuggins, Kenyon Martin, maybe Nick Van X, if you go back that far.
Well, there was a basketball program up the Ohio long before that.
Oscar Robertson, the “Big O’ (before every half way decent player had a flashy nickname) may have been the best college player of all time, better than Alcindor, better than Walton. He led the Bearcats to national prominence in the late ‘50’s and along with Jerry West of West Virginia, became one of the best NBA players in history. He was a tall two guard with a great jumper, excellent assist man, and could rebound. I always preferred West in the NBA because of his defense, but Oscar once averaged a Triple Double for the SEASON.
The Cincinati Bearcats, led by Ed Jucker, went to five Final Fours in a row. I’m gonna say that again, FIVE Final Fours in a row. And much of this was accomplished after Oscar graduated. The early 60’s team led by George Wilson, Tom Thacker, and Ron Bonham, won the NCAA championship two years in a row, and were nipped by Loyola of Chicago in OT in their third attempt. The vanquished victims in the championship games were the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeye team was led by Jerry Lucas, Larry Siegfried, John Havlicek, Mel Nowell (who all had significant NBA careers), and a slow moving, always gunning, substitute guard, named Bob Knight, who couldn’t shoot, and played shitty defense. And by the way, three of the Final Fours were played, you guessed it, at Freedom Hall.
Yeah, it was long, long ago, but that should not make Cincy’s accomplishment less distinguished, less important. It was hard to win an NCAA championship back then, too.
And to diminish their run merely because so much time has gone by, will, at some point, begin to diminish our championship years of 1980 and 1986. After all, it has been a while between sips for us, too.
And we all know what George Santayana said about history and stuff:
“Those who fail to learn from the events of history are destined never to return to the Final Four.”