The Great Eighties
Outstanding Teams Dominated The Decade
By MIKE LOPRESTI
Gannett News Service
So where were we, the last time a decade was dawning?
A long time ago, 1980. At least in
When you hit a 20-foot jump shot, you
scored two points, of course. If you wanted
to hold the ball for four minutes, you could.
Domes were considered nice places in
which to play baseball and football. But a
basketball tournament? Nan. Who would
fill the seats?
ESPN? What's an ESPN?
Big East? What'* a Big East?
There was a little-recognized school not
far from the banks of the Potomac River
just beginning to make noise, with an earnest coach named John Thompson. Somebody back then called Georgetown Cinderella. Imagine that. Cinderella. We found
out Cinderella could play a pretty mean
Louisville did not have any national
championships yet. What Louisville had
then was a rap.
"Louisville can't win the big ones. Lou-
penny Crum of Louisville led the Cardinals
to national titles in 1980 and 1986.
North Carolina's Dean Smith directed his
teams to 10-straight NCAA championship
berths in the exciting eighties.
isville can't play against zones. Louisville
this, Louisville that," guard Jerry Eaves
said one day, mimicking the critics of the
Soon after, Louisville made its first of
four Final Four trips in the decade and won
its first of two national championships. Nobody said Louisville could not win the big
Dean Smith was still looking for his first
national championship at North Carolina.
And nobody had yet hit on the idea of naming an arena after him.
With the 1990 NCAA championship, college basketball commences a new decade,
and it can only hope the one coming will
match the one past.
It would be hard to better the 1980s. How
can you top a decade that had everything?
You want great coaches? It had great
Denny Crum, Bob Knight, Smith,
Thompson, Mike Krzyzewski, Larry
Brown, Guy Lewis. They did not know the
meaning of the word rebuild. All they knew
how to do was reload.
Crum took four Louisville teams to the
Final Four and won twice. Knight won
twice. Thompson, Krzyzewski, Brown and
Lewis each brought three teams to college
basketball's big weekend. Brown did it at
both UCLA and Kansas. Lute Olson did it
at both Iowa and Arizona.
You want great stars? It had great stars.
Your choice, foreign or domestic.
From Michael Jordan to Danny Manning
to Patrick Ewing to Ralph Sampson to
Sampson was Associated Press national
player of the year three times. But he never
won the national championship, never saw
the view from the mountaintop that Jordan
and Ewing and Manning saw.
Ewing nearly had three titles. His Hoyas
lost by one point in the 1982 title game, by
two in 1985. Someone once asked him if he
had any disappointments in his career at
Said Ewing, "I had two." It was not hard
to guess what they were.
A strange thing about the 1980s, though.
Look at the top 15 season scoring averages
in NCAA Divison I history. Not one came
Championship Coaches of the '80s
Seven coaches led their teams to NCAA titles during the 1980s. Denny Crum of Louisville
and Bob Knight of Indiana were the only coaches to capture more than one championship.
Crum led the Cardinals to NCAA crowns in 1980 and 1986 while Knight directed his Hoosiers to
the 1981 and 1987 championships.
NCAA Championship Finishes
Denny Crum, Louisville
Bob Knight, Indiana
John Thompson, Georgetown
Dean Smith, North Carolina
Larry Brown, Kansas, UCLA
Rollie Massimino, Villanova
Jim Valvano, North Carolina State
Steve Fisher, Michigan
Years Won Lost Pet. 1st 2nd 3rd 4th