Last year, Street & Smith magazine attempted to rank the nation’s college basketball programs for all of history. If I remember correctly, NC State came in somewhere around 20th. (For some reason my memory is blurry on this and I feel relatively confident saying that we were somewhere between 17th and 22nd. Don’t ask me why those numbers stick in my mind.)
Because of the program’s gradually deteriorating position on college basketball’s national landscape over the last 15 years, I can’t complain very much with a ranking around #20. But, it doesn’t make it any less painful when you consider that just 20 years ago NC State was undoubdtedly one of the Top 10 programs in college basketball history. (You can see a related link to contemplate by clicking here)
One of the more unique components of NC State’s Basketball history is the significant amount of “high magnitude” events for which the program is responsible compared to its ranking of (approx) #20. This is interesting to me because it mirrors the uniqueneness of college basketball as a sport — largely a tournament sport that creates situations where a team can make a huge impact on a single, high-intensity stage. You need look no further than NC State’s 1970 and 1987 ACC Championships over South Carolina and North Carolina as examples of etching your name into history without having to dominate the entire season.
NC State has had a similar impact in more ancillary items related to college basketball. A quick laundry list of high impact events that grow from Raleigh are things like:
* Everett Case, credited with “bringing basketball to the South” and accepted as the “grandfather” of the greatest basketball conference in the country
* Reynolds Coliseum (formerly the largest on-campus arena in the country) and its many tournaments (Dixie Classic & ACC)
* the tradition of cutting down the nets after a Tournament Championship
* the creation and evolution of the alley-oop
* responsibility for stopping UCLA’s unprecedented string of National Championships in 1974
* Willis Casey’s role in expanding the NCAA Tournament Championship and creating “March Madness” as we know it today
* the greatest run in NCAA history to the NCAA Championship in 1983
* Jim Valvano’s significant impact on coaching and the ongoing focus and fight on cancer
^ That list could be much longer with a little more time, and it would include the role of Spud Webb and his dunk contest championship in the NBA in the mid 1980s. Spud came back to the spotlight this weekend when Nate Robinson used Spud to jump over on his way to jumping towards the 2006 NBA Dunk Contest Championship in what was easily the best dunk contest since the “good old days.”
I find former Wolfpacker, Spud Webb’s influence on the role of the dunk in the NBA particularly unique when you consider that it was just 10 years earlier that another former-Wolfpacker played a primary role in the evolution of the art form known as dunking.
As most old-schoolers remember, the 1976 ABA Dunk Contest was actually the event that got the dunk rolling towards what it is today. And, of course, David Thompson played a monster role in the event. I’d like to thank ESPN.com for running this great retrospective on the 1976 Dunk Contest that I think that you will enjoy in light of this weekend’s re-emergence of Spud.
But the night belonged to Skywalker and Doc and their dueling dunks. They were so much the show, in fact, that other players in the game didn’t go into the locker room at halftime, preferring instead to stay courtside and watch what they’d come up with. “The guys were all there,” Hundhausen said. “Some of them on the bench, some of them laying on the floor, and some of them sitting cross-legged near center court. It was crazy.”