Interesting Basketball Facts - II

The 1979 NCAA championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State received a TV rating of 24.1 and a 38 share (which translates into 18,000,000 homes). Both of these are the highest for any basketball game ever. The attraction that evening was the matchup of Magic Johnson of MSU and Larry Bird of ISU. The Spartans won 75-64 in Salt Lake City.

Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals averaged a triple-double for the entire 1961-2 NBA season: 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game. This incredible feat, accomplished before the term "triple-double" had been invented, has never been duplicated. Furthermore, Oscar did this in only his second year in the league. Robertson also played college ball in Cincinnati for the Bearcats, where he averaged 33.8 points and 15.2 rebounds a game. Only Pete Maravich scored more points than Oscar for a three-year career. At 6'5" Robertson could play any position on the court, often posting up smaller defenders. He is arguably the greatest point guard ever, driving defenses crazy with quickness and a variety of shots and passes. The National Association of Basketball Coaches voted him the Player of the Century. He played for one NBA championship team, the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks with a young Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). His jersey number has been retired by two different franchises, the Sacramento Kings (ancestor of the Royals) and the Bucks.

Kentucky dominated the SEC throughout the Adolph Rupp era (1930-1971) and beyond so that they sport some astounding series records against their traditional opponents. Here are some of them (through the 2007 season).

  • Auburn 81 wins-17 losses
  • Georgia 106-21
  • Mississippi State 84-18
  • Vanderbilt 129-41
  • South Carolina 39-7
  • LSU 77-22
  • Alabama 96-35
  • Florida 84-30
The most lopsided of all is Ole Miss: 94-11, including 46-2 in Lexington. The two Rebel victories were in 1927 and 1998. Tennessee has defeated Kentucky more times than any other team by far, 64, but has lost 139.

During the 1950-1 season, the NBA played by this new rule

After a made free throw in the last three minutes, a jump ball is held between the player who committed the foul and the player who was fouled.

The purpose of the rule was to eliminate deliberate fouling and roughness. In 1952-3, the rule was amended to require the jump ball between the man who is fouled and the player guarding him. This was done to eliminate the advantage of having a tall man foul a short one. The jump ball rule wasn't needed once the 24-second shot clock was introduced for the 1954-5 season.

The first women's college basketball game was played on April 4, 1896 in San Francisco between Stanford and Cal. Stanford won the game 2-1. The rules were much different from today. There were nine players on each side, and players could play in only certain areas of the court. Women weren't allowed to steal the ball from each other because it was considered "unladylike" and they had to wear clothes covering every part of their bodies except their hands and face!

The only coach in Kansas men's basketball history with a losing record is none other than James Naismith, the inventor of basketball! He coached at Kansas from 1898-1907, ending with 55 wins and 60 losses.

First held in 1973, the Derby Festival Basketball Classic is the second-oldest continuously-held high school all-star game in the nation. In 1987, the Classic set a record for attendance with a crowd of 19,041 at Freedom Hall in Louisville. Players such as Jamal Mashburn, Moses Malone, Rex Chapman, Pervis Ellison, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Darrell Griffith, and Anfernee Hardaway have starred in the Classic.

When Canadian James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 in Springfield MA, each hoop was like a peach basket with a bottom. Each time a team made a basket, the referee would climb on a ladder and get the soccer ball. It would be ten years before bottomless nets were attached to the rims.

Skip Prosser, who died suddenly in the summer of 2007, took three schools to the NCAA Tournament in his first season as head coach at the school: Loyola MD, Xavier, and Wake Forest. He is the only coach in Division I history to do that.

The first televised college basketball games were in 1940. Pittsburgh defeated Fordham, 57-to-37, and New York University beat Georgetown, 50-to-27, at Madison Square Garden.

The three-point basket has been a staple of both men's and women's basketball for several decades. A three-point rule was tested as early as 1933 but not adopted. It surfaced again in a 1945 NCAA game between Columbia and Fordham, again with no lasting impact. It took the American Basketball League to adopt the rule in 1961. The Eastern Professional Basketball League followed suit in 1963-4. However, the shot did not become popular until implemented by the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1968. During the 1970s, the ABA used the "downtown" shot and the slam dunk to compete with the older NBA, which finally adopted the shot for the 1979-80 season. International basketball followed suit in 1984.

College conferences received permission to experiment with three-point shots starting with the Southern Conference in 1980. Eventually the NCAA adopted a 19' 9" line in 1986. It remained at that point until May 2007 when the rules committee lengthened the arc radius to 20' 9" (beginning in 2008-9).

The NCAA records for scoring average in a season by a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior are all held by players from the same school: LSU. Because freshmen were ineligible when Pete Maravich arrived in Baton Rouge, the Pistol doesn't hold the freshman record. That honor goes to Chris Jackson.

Senior: Pete Maravich, LSU (1970) 1,381 points; 44.5 points per game
Junior: Pete Maravich, LSU (1969) 1,148 points; 44.2 ppg
Sophomore: Pete Maravich, LSU (1968) 1,138 points; 43.8 ppg
Freshman: Chris Jackson, LSU (1989) 965 points; 30.2 ppg

How much of this trivia about Michael Jordan did you know?

  • Michael was born in Brooklyn, not North Carolina.
  • His first love was baseball, which was also his father's favorite sport. Many years later, this led to his trying baseball for several years after his first retirement from the NBA.
  • Michael's older brother Larry was also an outstanding athlete, especially in basketball. It was the desire to emulate his brother that led Michael to hoops.
  • As a 5'10" sophomore at Laney High School in Wilmington NC, Michael was cut from the varsity team. He grew to 6'3" over the summer and made the team as a junior.

Coaches who want to recruit high school hoopsters in Illinois know that their best source of information is the website What is so interesting about that? There are hundreds of recruiting websites across the country. Well, the Illlinois site is the product of 16-year-old Daniel Poneman, a junior at Evanston Township High. His site is free of charge, although he is adding a pay section with more detailed info. Poneman and his assistant Cavan Walsh (also 16) claim they "can get information the older guys can't" because they know how to relate to prospects their own age.

Poneman's dream? "I want to be a general manager in the NBA. Anything less would be unacceptable."