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Perfect Fit

November 16, 2000

Arizona center--and team spokesman--Loren Woods says that the 2000-01 Wildcats can do something that no NCAA Division I basketball team has done in 24 seasons--go undefeated. It's a feat that has been accomplished 12 times in the "modern era" of college basketball (starting in 1937-38, as established by the NCAA Basketball Records guide.) A look at the 12 teams that had undefeated seasons:



Record: 24-0

Coach: Clair Bee

Top Player

Irv Torgoff: 9.5 points per game

In '30s and '40s, there was no bigger name in coaching than Clair Bee, whose career winning percentage (.826) is the highest in the NCAA's major schools category. A defense mastermind, Bee developed the 1-3-1 zone, and his teams rarely allowed an uncontested shot. Bee was influential in having the three-second rule implemented--and showing he had the "write" stuff off the court--he was also the author of the fictional Chip Hilton sports books for kids. The 1938-39 Blackbirds won the first of two NIT championships for Bee, but his collegiate coaching world would come crashing down after the 1951 season. When LIU was among the New York City schools (CCNY, NYU and Manhattan were the others ) implicated in the point-shaving scandal of two years earlier, Bee promptly resigned. The Blackbirds would have to take their broken wings and learn to fly again--the program was discontinued until 1957.



Record: 19-0

Coach: John "Honey" Russell

Top Player

G Bob Davies: Not Available

Almost four decades before Magic Johnson and "Showtime," and about five years before Bob Cousy, "the Houdini of the Hardwood," would dazzle college basketball, there was Davies--the player who helped take the sport out of the dark ages of two-hand set shots and chest passes. Davis is credited with being the first player use a behind-the-back dribble in a college game. In 1941--a year after Seton Hall compiled an unbeaten record but did not participate in a postseason tournament--Davies stunned a Madison Square Garden crowd of 18,000 in an NIT game by dribbling behind his back during a drive to the basket. One newspaper account called Davies a "catlike court magician." Five years later, after serving in the military, Davies took his night moves to the brave new world of the NBA and became its first showman and one of its best players.



Record: 15-0

Coach: Edward Kelleher

Top Players

Edward Christl and Dale Hall: NA

With war being waged in both Europe and the Pacific Ocean, little attention was being paid to college basketball, but the games did go on. At Army, team captain Edward Christl and Helms All-American Dale Hall led a quiet charge to a unbeaten season. Christl graduated from West Point that year and went off war. He was killed in Austria in 1945. In 1986, Army's 5,043-seat venue for men's and women's basketball was named Christl Arena in his honor.



Record; 25-0

Coach: Adolph Rupp

Starting Lineup

F Lou Tsioropolous: 14.5

F Billy Evans: 8.4

C Cliff Hagan: 24.0

G Frank Ramsey: 19.6

G Gayle Rose: 6.7

What should have been Hagan-Dazs for Kentucky--a hook shot-cranking scoring machine at center surrounded by a talented cast--melted in the dark. Kentucky was banned from competition in 1952-53 for being one of the schools implicated in the point-shaving scandals that signaled the end of the innocence for college basketball, but came back with a vengeance in 1953-54--battering opponents by an average of 27 points a game. However, the Wildcats refused to play in the NCAA tournament after its three "postgraduate" (fifth-year) stars--Hagan, Ramsey and Tsioropolous--were declared ineligible for the postseason.



Record: 29-0

Coach: Phil Woolpert

Starting Lineup

F Carl Boldt: 8.6

F Mike Farmer: 8.4

C Bill Russell: 20.6

G K.C. Jones: 9.8

G Gene Brown: 7.1

USF had to retool after losing three starters from its NCAA championship team in 1954-55, but it still had Russell--basketball's version of the Sultan of Swat. So dominant was Russell in the NCAA tournament that the Dons defeated each of their opponents by double digits without another future basketball Hall of Famer, the defense dynamo Jones, who was declared ineligible in the postseason as a fifth-year player. The first of USF's tournament victims was UCLA, coached by then-mere mortal John Wooden.



Record: 32-0

Coach: Frank McGuire

Starting Lineup

F Lennie Rosenbluth: 28.0

F Pete Brennan: 14.7

C Joe Quigg: 10.3

G Tommy Kearns: 12.3

G Bob Cunningham : 7.2

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