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History of Cincinnati Basketball




Bearcat Basketball History

The University of Cincinnati stands among the nationís elite in college basketball.

Six Final Four appearances, and back-to-back national championships, are accomplishments only a handful of programs can boast.

In fact, UC is one of the winningest teams in NCAA Tournament history. The Bearcats have compiled a 40-23 record in NCAA play for a .635 percentage.

Cincinnatiís 1,499-855 record (.635), compiled over 104 seasons, places the school among the top 30 winningest programs. Since post-World War II, the beginning of modern day college basketball, UC has a 1,161-533 ledger (.685), an average of 19.7 wins per year. The Bearcats have advanced to post-season play 32 times and have been conference champions in 30 seasons.

UCís losses in tournament play have also been noteworthy. Cincinnati has been eliminated from the NCAA playoffs five times by teams which eventually won the title and lost twice to the eventual champ in NIT competition.

The Bearcatsí excellence is not portrayed in numbers alone. UC is the alma mater of several of college basketballís greatsó29 Bearcats have earned All-America honors, two went on to become Olympic Gold Medalists and two are enshrined in the National Basketball Hall of Fame.

One of the first of Cincinnatiís long list of standouts was Jack Twyman, who earned All-America status in 1954-55. He went on to NBA stardom and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Oscar Robertson is still widely-recognized as one of the greatest to ever play the sportócollege or professional. A unanimous three-time All-American, he was college basketballís all-time leading scorer at the close of his career. His 33.8 scoring average today ranks third on the NCAA career charts, and he has the NBAís third most career assists. The Hall of Famer led the U.S. Olympic team to the 1960 Gold Medal.

Sparked by the exploits of Robertson, who became the first player to lead the nation in scoring in three consecutive seasons, Cincinnati advanced to the Final Four in 1958-59 and 1959-60, settling for third place both years.

With a rookie head coach and without Robertson, the Bearcats won their first national title in 1960-61. Then to prove that its 1961 championship was no fluke, UC repeated as champion in 1961-62.

Cincinnati made a then-unprecedented fifth-straight trip to the Final Four in 1962-63, and narrowly missed capturing a third-straight national crown when Loyola (Ill.) overcame a 15-point deficit and defeated the Bearcats by a basket, 60-58, in overtime.

During those five seasons, UC recorded a 37-game win streak and posted a 161-16 ledger. The five straight Final Four appearances is a feat topped only by UCLA.

Connie Dierking (1958), Ralph Davis (1960), Bob Wiesenhahn (1961), Paul Hogue (1961, 1962), Tom Thacker (1963), Tony Yates (1963), Ron Bonham (1963, 1964) and George Wilson (1963) were accorded All-American recognition with Wilson playing on the U.S. 1964 Olympic gold medal team.

The Bearcats success continued in the 1970ís, during which UC compiled a 170-85 record (.667). Cincinnati inaugurated the Metro Conference by winning the leagueís first two tournament championships and made four post-season appearances. Jim Ard (1970), Lloyd Batts (1973), Steve Collier (1976), Gary Yoder (1977), Bob Miller (1978) and Pat Cummings (1979) earned All-American recognition.

Cummings closed his illustrious career as UCís No. 2 leading scorer of all-time. The 1980ís saw Roger McClendon, capitalizing on the new 3-point field goal rule, take over as the No. 2 career scorer.

While UC made only one postseason appearance, groundwork was laid which would make Cincinnati a dominant team in the 1990ís.

The last 17 seasons has been one of the brightest periods in the University of Cincinnatiís rich basketball history. In fact, only the late 1950ís and early 1960ís, during which the Bearcats made five straight trips to the Final Four and won back-to-back national championsips, shines brighter.

Bob Huggins, who was named head coach in 1989, rekindled those national championship expectations in only his third season at the helm when he directed UC to the Final Four. The Bearcats have advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament three times and have reached the Sweet 16 four times.

Cincinnati has won its conference season and/or tournament title in 12 of the last 15 seasons. UC has claimed eight league tournament titles and 10 regular season crowns during this span. The Bearcats have finished in the Top 10 of the final polls in seven of the past 13 years. During this time, Cincinnati has ranked among the nationís winningest programs both in terms of winning percentage and victories.

Fifteen Bearcats have garnered first team all-conference honors during this era with three of those, Danny Fortson, Kenyon Martin and Steve Logan, picking up a total of four C-USA Most Outstanding Player Awards.

Fortson, Nick Van Exel, Ruben Patterson, Bobby Brannen, Melvin Levett, Logan, Martin and Pete Mickeal have joined Cincinnatiís list of All-Americans. Fortson was a consensus first team All-American in 1996-97 after receiving second team recognition in 1995-96. Martin was college basketballís top player of the 1999-2000 season, making a clean sweep of the national player of the year awards. Logan was a consensus All-American in 2001-02 and a finalist for every national player of the year award.

As further evidence of Cincinnatiís excellence, 13 Bearcats have been selected in the NBA draft, three of whom were top 10 picks. The headliner of this list is Martin who was the No. 1 pick of the entire 2000 draft by the New Jersey Nets. DerMarr Johnson was the No. 6 pick of the 2000 draft by the Atlanta Hawks.

 

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