On March 25, 1967 in Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky the UCLA Bruins 30-0 coached by John Wooden met the Dayton Flyers 25-6 coached by Don Donoher. Donoher was in the third season of his 25 year career at UD where he finished with a 437-275 record.
The Flyers had a much more difficult road to the final as they defeated Western Kentucky 69-67 in the opening round, Tennessee 53-52 in the second round and Virginia Tech 71-66 and North Carolina 76-62 to get to the title game.
The Bruins won their games rather handily against Wyoming 109-60, Pacific 80-64 and Houston 73-58.They featured future NBA and college basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar whose name then was Lew Alcindor, who averaged 29 points per game and 15.5 rebounds per game as well as Lucius Allen 15.5 ppg. Mike Warren 12.7 ppg and Lynn Shakelford 11.4 ppg.
Dayton was led by Don May 22.2 ppg, 16.7 rpg, Bobby Hooper 11.7ppg, Rudy Waterman 11.2 ppg, Glinder Torain 10.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg and Dan Obrovac 6.4 rpg.
A problem for the Flyers was matching up against the 7’ 2” Abdul-Jabbar as 6’ 10” sophomore Dan Obrovac and the 6’ 4” Don May would have to guard him in the game.
Kareem was the most dominant college center since Wilt Chamberlain in 1956-57, 1957-58 as he was such a good athlete for his height.
I remember watching the game as UCLA took control in the first half and led at halftime by a 38-20 score. UDfared better in the second half, outscoring the Bruins 44-41 but that was againstsome reserve players.
The Flyers played valiantly against the taller Bruins and the final score was a somewhat respectable 79-64 with Alcindor getting 20 points on 8 of 12 field goals, 18 rebounds and Lucius Allen scoring 19, Mike Warren 17 and Lynn Shakelford adding 10.
Don May led the Flyers with 21 points and 17 rebounds and Rudy Waterman added 10 points in what has been Dayton’s only NCAA final appearance.
UCLA ‘s win was the third in four years and the start of seven championships in a row and a phenomenal ten in twelve years before Wooden retired at the end of the 1974-75 season with a 664-162 record and an .804 winning percentage in 29 years of collegiate coaching, 27 at UCLA and 2 at Indiana State.
As a way of comparison Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski who has coached more years, has a .765 winning percentage and five NCAA titles but it is more competitive today with more talented teams than during Wooden’s time as coach.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate