With Kentucky two wins away from grasping college basketball immortality, how do members of the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers feel?
Is this a Miami Dolphins situation? The 1972 Fins are the last NFL team to run the table in pro football. They’ve made an identity out of celebrating their feat, often popping champagne and throwing a party after the last team takes an L in the big leagues.
But IU’s alums aren’t like that. They’re rooting for UK to end the 39-year drought of no unbeatens in college hoops.
The Associated Press reports:
The nation’s last undefeated college basketball team is eager to end the 39-year wait to add another member to the club — even if an old rival is trying to make history in the Hoosiers’ backyard.
“These are young people who have a terrific opportunity to do something great,” said (Quinn) Buckner, an Olympic gold medalist, an NBA champion with the Boston Celtics and now a TV analyst for the Pacers. “I think for me and my teammates, it’s hard to pull against young people.”
That’s a refreshing viewpoint, and one shared by many members of that classic Hoosiers team.
Of course, the coach hasn’t felt similar. More from the AP’s story …
Not everyone in the Hoosiers’ camp is rooting for Kentucky. Former coach Bob Knight has said that he didn’t believe John Calipari should still be coaching after Massachusetts and Memphis were forced to vacate Final Four appearances because of NCAA violations that occurred during his tenures. Knight’s ex-players have taken a broader view.
“What Calipari has done a pretty good job with is keeping them guarding,” said Buckner.
“We could have won 50 games. It wouldn’t have mattered because we weren’t going to lose,” Bobby Wilkerson said. “We played all the top teams. We played UCLA the first game our senior year, so our thing was that we were going to start at the top and work our way through.”
Indiana basketball from around 1974 through 1981 was the best program in the country. And it had a stretch at one point where it went 67-1. Outrageous.
Wilkerson said he welcomes Kentucky to the club, but in his yes and for many others, this UK crew will not leapfrog ’75-76 as the best team ever.
“My hat’s off to them if they make it because they’ll be in great company,” Wilkerson told the ap. “I don’t know if they’ll last as long as we did, but they can’t take our place.”
IU went 32-0. Kentucky will be 40 and zip if it wins two more. The argument can definitely be had.