The 1976 Final Four team will be honored tonight. Fans will receive commemorative poster & 1st 500 receive a t-shirt pic.twitter.com/QUOcP5Otwu
— Rutgers Basketball (@RutgersMBB) January 9, 2016
Tonight during halftime of the Rutgers-Nebraska men's basketball game, the 1975-1976 Final Four team will be honored. It's the 40th anniversary of the greatest Rutgers basketball team in history. Aaron, Dave and Bob share some thoughts here.
Aaron Breitman on the Statistical Briliance of this Team
What a team, led by all-american Phil Sellers, who is the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. The rest of the starting lineup was made up of current Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan, Hollis Copeland, James Bailey, and Mike Dabney. All five of them were drafted to the NBA. Sixth man Abdel Anderson was a key cog on this team as well. They scored an average of 93.3. points per game, BEFORE the three-point arc was in college basketball. Think about that for a second, truly remarkable. All six players and coach Tom Young are rightfully in the Rutgers Hall of Fame. The starting five remain in the top eight for all-time scorers in Rutgers basketball history. Sellers and Bailey scored over 2,000 points and had over 1,000 rebounds for their careers.
Some of their statistics are really impressive, click here for a complete look. All six players in the regular rotation scored a season high of 21 points or better in a game. Four starters averaged 12.9 points or better, with Sellers and Dabney both averaging over 19 points a game. Sellers actually averaged a double-double at 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Dabney and Jordan both averaged over 3 steals per game, as coach Tom Young was relentless in calling for the full-court press.
The night Rutgers defeated St. Bonaventure to clinch an undefeated regular season record of 26-0, "paint chips fell from the ceiling that night, caused by the tremendous, vibrating noise and the heat generated in the building." In the ECAC Final to claim an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, Rutgers played St. John's at Madison Square Garden. People have told me the atmosphere was electric that night. Imagine that, watching a ranked Rutgers team play in the basketball mecca that is the garden, in front of a raucous crowd. Hopefully, we all get to experience something similar to the Final Four run that the 75-76 team made. We can dream can't we?
Dave White's Thoughts
Man, the stories I've heard about Jordan are legendary. Quick hands, quick feet, made everyone better. Back in the 70s, when you could actually run and gun and catch teams off balance. That must have been fun to watch.
It will be fun to see Sellers and Jordan interact on Saturday. It seems like they had some great chemistry on the court, and I'd imagine they still have it today. Jordan was clearly trying to duplicate that success this year with Corey Sanders and Deshawn Freeman, but injuries and youth have so far derailed that plan.
The coach we all wish stayed and made Rutgers legendary. Listening to Jordan tell stories of Young when he was in the NBA and young was his assistant (or consigliere?) was pretty cool. He certainly knew what buttons to press for this team and got this team where it needed to be.
Bob Cancro's Thoughts on The Barn
The Barn was the best place I ever watched a game. Talk about being on top of the game; there were bleachers literally a couple of feet off the out of bounds lines. Keep your feet in or you're in the game. I wrote about this in another post, but leading up to 1976, the later years that I was on campus, you had to line up - often with a tray of dinner food from the Commons - in order to get in. There were no season tickets; the crowd was mostly students and we got in for free. It was where games were meant to be played. And I'll reference a Jerry Carino story about playing in a "gym", not an arena.
For Jerry Carino's article on six tales from the magical season, click here.
For a great profile from last spring in the New York Times, click here.