Jan. 19, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara University men's basketball was recently named one of the top 100 greatest college basketball programs of all-time in a publication produced by Street & Smith's. The publication will be available on newsstands and in store on January 25th. It will also be available at SCU home basketball games beginning January 27th.
The Broncos were ranked 72nd among the 100 programs and were one of four West Coast Conference teams represented in the listings.
From the glory days of the 1950s when the Broncos advanced to the school's only Final Four, through a successful decade of the 60s with some of the West Coast's top players and a cinderella-filled 90's, the Santa Clara University basketball program has had its share of success over the years.
The best way to categorize the Bronco hoops family is consistency. In the early 1950's, led by highly-successful coach Bob Feerick, the Ken Sears-led Broncos charged through to three-straight NCAA regional finals and the 1952 Final Four. The first ever collegiate basketball player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Sears was a two-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year and earned All-America honors as well. He played professionally for seven years with the New York Knicks before returning to play for Feerick with the newly-relocated San Francisco Warriors of the NBA.
The decade of the 60's saw the Broncos produce a number of names who were household names on the West Coast. Bud Ogden and his brother Ralph were local products who, along with Dennis Awtry, who brought distinction to SCU and California's Bay area through their style, determination and toughminded play. Ogden, who also appeared on the cover of SI as a senior, earned All-America honors, while Awtry typified the SCU student-athlete with three straight Academic All-America awards.
Under coach Dick Garibaldi, the Bronco squads of the late 1960's were ranked as high as number one in the nation and advaned to three-straight NCAA Tournaments, twice losing to powerful UCLA squads. In 1968-69, Santa Clara won 21-straight games to open the season, went 27-2 on the year and ranked third in the final national poll.
In 1970, Garibaldi turned over the reigns to longtime assistant Carroll Williams, who led the Bronco program for the next 22 seasons. During that time the popular Williams coached All-America Mike Stewart, future Los Angeles Laker great Kurt Rambis and dominating 7-1 center Nick Vanos. His teams won 20 games five times between 1982-88 and finished in the top half of the WCC throughout his tenure.
Like Garibaldi to Williams, Dick Davey took over the Bronco program in 1993 after spending considerable time as an assistant coach at Santa Clara. The likeable Davey led SCU through a time in the mid-1990s when the Broncos helped shape the term cinderella in the minds of college basketball fans.
Under Davey's guidance and the magical ballhandling and shooting of Canadian Steve Nash, the Broncos knocked-off the University of Arizona 64-61 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. In that game, the 15th-seeded Broncos, making their first NCAA appearance since 1988, stunned the fifth-seeded Wildcats, prompting a local columnist to write that the "Broncos are harder to kill than roaches."
Two seasons later, Santa Clara opened the season with an improbable 78-69 win over defending national champion UCLA in the first round of the Maui Invitational, knocked-off Georgia Tech in the Cable Car Classic then clinched its place in the legend of college hoops with a 91-79 demolishion of Maryland in the NCAA Tournament.
If there has ever been a small college program who has defied the odds while maintaining excellence on the court and in the classroom, it's the Santa Clara Broncos.