SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2021
The greatest team of all time: We're newly returned from receiving our first vaccination shot.
Let's just say that a fair amount of confusion prevailed, mainly concerning which were the red seats and which were the orange seats, along with which were the black seats and which were the blue.
These questions arose as people were told where to sit as they waited to schedule their second appointments. That said, nothing's perfect, and a whole lot of good got done.
We sat in various seats, waiting for our second appointment to be scheduled. As we did, our eyes fell upon this front-page headline in our hard-copy Washington Post:
Boasts by Gaetz said to include nude photos
That was, and is, a front-page headline in today's Washington Post. BREAKING! A (visibly creepy) junior congressman had boasted about some nude pics!
Such is the world we live in. On Thursday evening, the final segment of MSNBC's All In included such embarrassing clatter as this:
MATT FULLER, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST (4/1/21): This actually started for me almost exactly three years ago. We had a tip that he was dating an intern not in his office, in another office.
I sat across from that intern. I asked her questions. She later confirmed to me that yes, she was dating him. She was over 21 at the time.
I can tell you that yes, I know that he dated women who were much younger than him in his—their early 20s. But with that, you know, the Justice Department probe, that that still remains to be unverified at least by us at this point.
No, we haven't dreamed that up. You can see the transcript right here.
Fuller said he's devoted three years to this problem—to the problem which arose when he learned, in 2017, that a (then) 35-year-old congressman was known to be dating women who were in their early 20s.
He sat across from one of those women, and he asked her questions! On Thursday night, this senior politics editor went on MSNBC and admitted to these facts. A leering, tabloid-ready substitute host urged him to tell us more.
This is happening as a pandemic continues to sweep the globe, attacking people in seats of many colors. There may be more pandemics to come—but in the meantime, we'll always have Florida, and those boasts, to publish headlines about.
Also, major journalists at the Washington Post are putting their thumbs and their elbows on the scales about the conduct of a couple of first-week rookie cops. We humans! It's much as it has always been:
The more powerful are willing to consign the less significant, their lessers, to early cancellation or death.
When we saw that headline in the Post, we made a split-second decision. If Kevin Drum was able to "take a break and talk about" the greatest college basketball team of all time, we were going to take a break and discuss that subject too!
Kevin closed the post in question wondering about the identity of the greatest such team of all time. Today, we answer the question his post implied.
The greatest team of all time:
The greatest college team of all time? It was the 1965-66 UCLA freshman team, the only freshman team to win the NCAA championship.
How did a freshman team manage to win the national championship? Let's take a look at the record:
In the fall of 1965, the UCLA varsity was coming off two straight national championships—the first of the ten the school would win over a 12-year span.
At the start of the new season, the UCLA varsity was ranked #4 in the nation. Sadly, though, they faced one game they couldn't possibly win—the annual preseason game against the UCLA freshmen.
(Note: According to this Sports Illustrated article, the UCLA varsity was rated #1 in the nation in a poll of coaches when they played the freshmen that year.)
Sure enough! The freshman team whipped the varsity, 75-60, thereby wrapping up the national championship. Freshman center Lew Alcindor scored 31 points while amassing 21 "boards."
The NCAA decided to stage its regular season and its post-season tournament just as if nothing had happened. Starting in the 1966-67 season, those freshmen were eligible to play on the varsity level, and they proceeded to win three more national championships, operating under normal procedures.
Just for the record, the greatest college team with upperclassmen may have been the 1971-72 UCLA varsity. With Bill Walton as its sophomore center, that team somehow managed to win these early-season, non-conference games:
Early-season UCLA wins:
12/3/71: Defeated The Citadel by 56 points
12/4/71: Defeated Iowa by 34
12/10/71: Defeated Iowa State by 29
12/11/71: Defeated Texas A&M by 64
12/22/71: Defeated Notre Dame by 58
12/23/71: Defeated TCU by 38
12/29/71: Defeated Texas by 50
12/30/71: Defeated #6 Ohio State by 26
Despite the presence of upperclassmen, the team was off to a decent start. They went 30-0 that year, part of an eventual 88-game winning streak.
Depth was good on that varsity team. Sven Nater, the team's back-up center, was the 16th player chosen in the 1973 NBA draft.
Nater went on to become the only player to lead the ABA and the NBA in rebounding. In his senior year at UCLA, he'd averaged 3.2 points per game as a second-stringer.
Could the team which beat Notre Dame by 58 have handled that earlier freshman squad? There's no way to answer your question.
In modern times, we're denied the pleasure of such unparalleled greatness. On the other hand, we get to read, on a regular basis, about a congressman's boasts.
A philosophical puzzle: Coach Wooden was known for his attention to detail. This creates a philosophical puzzle about the imaginary game between those two UCLA squads.
The question goes like this:
If each team had been taught how to put on its socks, could either team have won?