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Two Decades of Not Quite, Part II

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Moving on to schools that actually fancy themselves as having had “glory days”

Simon and Garfunkel could write a song, this shit is so far in the past. “Where have you gone...”
Your all-time NBA points leader among PSU alums

t-10. Penn State Nittany Lions: 2 wins since 2000.

At least the fine folks in Happy Valley had the good sense to combine their two wins into the same appearance and thus be able to claim a Sweet Sixteen appearance out of the deal. Penn State’s 2001 Sweet 16 appearance helped wash away the taste of shitting the bed in a 12/5 upset loss to Arkansas in their first appearance as a B1G school in 1996. And anytime you can say you knocked off a #2-seed North Carolina team to make the second weekend, that’s something to take pride in.

Wait, it’s been 20 years. How DID Penn State beat UNC?...opens sports-reference/cbb...“Seasons”...“2001 NCAA tournament”...“South”...clicks “UNC” link:

“2000-01 UNC Tar Heels Roster and Stats”—->“Coach: Matt Doherty”

Oh.

Get Off My Lawn: Frank Brickowski is a damned national treasure. After Penn State, he spent a couple of years playing overseas (and this is the early 80s, he’s not making a fortune doing it), before getting his chance in the NBA, where he sticks around for most of 13 seasons! I remember him mostly on the Bucks, but I would probably fail a quiz that asked me to match the names and faces of “white big men who played for the Bucks in the 80s and early 90s.”

Oh, think you could do better? Paul Mokeski, Randy Breuer, Jack Sikma, Dave Hoppen, Brad Lohaus, Larry Krystkowiak, Fred Roberts, Danny Schayes, Dave Popson, Frank Brickowski.

Ready. Set. Go.

Though he joined the Bucks too late to play for Don Nelson, the fact that—according to Wikipedia—the Brick owns a ranch in Montana where he was once busted with pot tells me that he and Nelson are kindred spirits.

But don’t let that obscure Brickowski’s defining achievement: getting annoyed by Dennis Rodman during the 1996 NBA Finals.

Penn State? Uh. Um...guess it will be interesting to see where all their players end up next year. Did any of them stick around to play for their new coach. What’s his name again? Jonah Thimbleberry? Did PSU pay for moving expenses from his estate in Northumberland? Does he know that York, PA and Lancaster, PA are NOT AT ALL like what he’s probably expecting?

[ed.—We’ll try to rein him in, but sometimes he just goes off on tangents...]

Poll

If I said Penn State’s record is 27-9, you would...

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    A) Ask me how long I’ve known Don Nelson
    (13 votes)
  • 52%
    B) Break it down into three consecutive 9-3 seasons and comment "Yep, that’s pretty James Franklin, isn’t it."
    (52 votes)
  • 35%
    C) Nod your head knowingly, as you also realize that Penn State is a NIT juggernaut (champs 2009, 2018; 2nd in 1998; 3rd in 1990, 1995, 2000)
    (35 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now
“Somebody mention me?”

t-10. Minnesota Golden Gophers: 2 wins since 2000.

The post-Clem Haskins era has not been kind to the Gophers. But they deserve some credit for style points. In 20 years when nobody knows any better, beating Louisville (2019) and UCLA (2013) in NCAA tournament play will look pretty good. Not as good as three Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights, and a Final Four from 1989-1997, but Jan Gangelhoff couldn’t keep up that pace forever now, could she?

Is blowing out UCLA in the NCAA tournament worth an NIT title? Because when it come to the NIT, the Gophers make Penn State look like pikers. 33-12 all-time. 3 titles (1993, 1998, 2014), 2 runner-up finishes (1980, 2012), and a semifinal appearance in 2003. The 1998 title came at the expense of the Nittany Lions, seemingly settling the B1G NIT pecking order. Too bad the NCAA vacated it along with the 1997 Final Four appearance. [And how many teams make a Final Four without making the NCAA tournament the year before OR the year after anyway?]

Get Off My Lawn: Okay, I know you’re a UW fan so you can’t help taking potshots at the Gophers misdeeds, but can we talk about the fact that Willie Burton, the star of the ‘89 and ‘90 squads, scored 53 points in an NBA game ON 19 FIELD GOAL ATTEMPTS?! Willie Burton could always score. Willie Burton should’ve gone to a Big Eight school. He could’ve scored 2,500 points in his college career. Damn.

Poll

What was Minnesota’s most satisfying NIT title?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Definitely 1993: One point title-game victory over Georgetown? Thrilling!
    (25 votes)
  • 27%
    Gotta be 1998: Winning the rubber match against Penn State? Sublime!
    (22 votes)
  • 41%
    Nah, give me 2014: Beating Larry Brown and SMU by a bucket for the crown? Mesmerizing!
    (33 votes)
80 votes total Vote Now
“I hear we’re getting the band back together?”

9. Iowa Hawkeyes: 5 wins since 2000.

For absolutely no reason whatsoever, I’ve been doing a little research. Wondering how many coaches have 25 years of experience, with at least 10 coming in a power conference, and no Sweet 16 appearances to show for it. I won’t pretend that I’ve been exhaustive, but so far I’ve found two. One of them is Oliver Purnell (who was 0-6 in the NCAA tournament). I forget who the other one is...it’ll come to me in a minute...on the tip of my tongue...wait, got it:

“No Fran. I said show me joyous.” “I am.”

Maybe Iowa just has the wrong attitude. You know how Miami (OH) is the “Cradle of Coaches” in CFB? Maybe that’s what Iowa should shoot for. Ralph Miller leaves Iowa, becomes a legend at Oregon State. Lute Olson leaves, builds Arizona into a national-title winning powerhouse. Steve Alford leaves, suddenly he’s winning Mountain West titles and making as many Sweet 16s his first four years at UCLA as Iowa has made since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Iowa, you’re a feeder school. Set Fran free so he can make a Sweet 16 before his head explodes.

[Steve Alford has 544 career D-I victories. Gene Keady has 550. Weird.]

Get Off My Lawn: Maybe I’m turning into a pushover, but a word on behalf of the Hawkeyes during the Tom Davis era. No idea if he was a nice guy or not, but he must have pissed off somebody in the NCAA main office. The Simple Rating System (SRS) has them at #17 in 1992, they get a 9-seed and run into Duke (Laettner, Hurley, Hill repeat champions Duke) in the second round. 1993, Chris Street dies tragically, and they finish 10th in SRS anyway. Final Four darkhorse but for his passing. 1995, they’re #21 in SRS and don’t get picked for the tournament. 19-11/9-9 in (admittedly weak) B1G and they don’t get chosen? 1996? Beat 1-seed UConn on a neutral court, finish #10 in SRS and here’s a 6-seed for your efforts. 14th in 1997? Great, how about an 8-seed opposite Kentucky? 1998? A winning B1G record and 14th in SRS...and no bid. Maybe SRS is fundamentally flawed in some way (KenPom loves good defensive, low tempo teams; maybe SRS loves teams who press and fancy bounce passes?), but Iowa deserved better, right Fran?

“I’m definitely getting suspended for this.”

Poll

DOES Iowa deserve better?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    No. You employ Fran.
    (44 votes)
  • 28%
    No. Gary Barta (see above).
    (37 votes)
  • 26%
    No. You get what you earn, and Oregon ran circles around you.
    (34 votes)
  • 10%
    Okay, maybe. You are Don Nelson’s alma mater, after all.
    (13 votes)
128 votes total Vote Now
“How come I never got a shot with the Bucks?”

8. Indiana Hoosiers: 14 wins since 2000.

Yes, Indiana, 14 wins are more than the six teams below you combined. Guess what? You’re still in the bottom half of the conference. Ouch. Banners fly forever, which is good considering that every day fewer and fewer people have any first hand memory of Indiana winning a national title.

I’ve mentioned this before, but that doesn’t mean I can resist mentioning it again. On March 5, 2000, the B1G regular season ended when Indiana came to the Kohl Center. Indiana was 35-1 their last 36 games vs. the Badgers, but UW erased a 50-45 deficit by ending the game on an 11-3 run. UW would make a miracle run to the Final Four as an 8-seed. Indiana didn’t win the rest of the year. It was Bob Knight’s final regular season game as Indiana head coach. UW is 30-8 vs. Indiana from that day forward.

I am convinced UW captured Indiana’s basketball soul that day. Though maybe that was just the symbolic transfer and it actually happened in October, 1999 when Knight was hunting in the state of Wisconsin without a license, accidentally shot a member of his hunting party (no life-threatening injuries) and did not report it. Who knows?

Get Off My Lawn: Yes, yes, yes. Whatever you want to say about Bob Knight as a human being, I’ll probably just concede it. And, I know you know all about the 1976 champs, the last undefeated national champion. And the 1987 team—Steve Alford, the year after “A Season on the Brink,” Knight beating UNLV at their own game in the Final Four—is pretty storied at this point. But don’t forget about the 1981 squad. They were a 3-seed, but let’s not shit ourselves. That team was a juggernaut. The 21-9 regular season doesn’t scream “all-time great” and there was a rough tournament in Hawaii with an embarrassing loss to Texas-Rio Grande Valley (though T-RGV also beat Elite Eight participant Wichita State that year), but six of the losses were to teams in the top 10, and everybody knew it just a matter of the team gelling. Sitting at 10-7/3-2, they finished the regular season on a 12-2 kick, winning the B1G title. That was the warmup. Then came the NCAA tournament.

Round of 32 vs. a 6-seed Maryland led by future long-term pros Buck Williams and Albert King? 99-64 Hoosiers. UAB in the Sweet 16? 87-72 Hoosiers. Cinderella story and 8-seed St. Joseph’s in the Elite Eight? 78-46 Hoosiers. But surely, 1-seed LSU (31-3 entering the game) would give Indiana trouble? Yeah. For a half. Then Indiana outscored them 40-19 in the second half on the way to a 67-49 victory. Okay, but surely Dean Smith, with James Worthy and Sam Perkins at his disposal, will have something up his sleeve? Yeah, again, for a half. 27-26 Indiana at the break. 63-50 Indiana at the end of 40.

[ed. Yeah, and that was as close in time to UW winning the 1941 NCAA title as it is to today. But he’s right. That team was on a roll few teams have experienced. Really, right down to Isiah Thomas/Magic Johnson, that team had a lot of parallels to Sparty’s 1979 title team.]

Poll

Do you hunt?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    No.
    (29 votes)
  • 32%
    Not if Bob Knight is around.
    (34 votes)
  • 12%
    Yes, recreationally.
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Yes, I am picky about protein.
    (1 vote)
  • 25%
    Man is the most dangerous animal of all.
    (27 votes)
104 votes total Vote Now