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History of SC Hoops: Top 25 all time Teams, #2

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  • History of SC Hoops: Top 25 all time Teams, #2

    1940, Sam Barry, 20-3

    The previous year SC went 20-5, but finished second in the South behind 24-8 Cal, and third in the Conference behind 29-5 Oregon, which won the first even NCAA tournament. In 39-40 USC was led by Consensus First Team All American Ralph Vaughn, who led the Pacific Coast Conference in scoring at 15 points per game, and hung 36 points in a single game on UCLA, which was a conference record that stood for 21 years. Vaughn appeared on the January 15, 1940 cover of Life magazine, and his name should never be forgotten when talking about the greatest SC players of all time.

    So, in the Winter of 1939 the Trojans embarked on what was described by the Daily Trojan as a barnstorming tour, and one can argue it was one of the most successful road trip in college basketball history. The first game of the year was at DePaul, and SC pulled it out in OT. Then they won at Purdue, and then at Notre Dame. Then came the big show…. Madison Square Garden. USC faced off against Long Island, then a power house coached by the legendary Claire Bee, in a sold out Garden. This was truly the Big Time, and USC beat Long Island by 8, then moved on to Philly where they beat Temple by 16. This Road Trip, before ever playing a home game, put SC Hoops on the map. SC would go on to only lose two games that regular season, away at Stanford and Cal, thus winning the South Division. They would then walk over Oregon State in the best two of three Conference Championship.

    As Conference Champs SC was invited to the second ever NCAA Tournament, an eight team affair with the Western Regional and Final Four being held at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. SC's quarterfinal opponent was Colorado, and SC won 38-32, so on to the second ever national semi-final against Kansas. Also in the Final Four that year were Indiana (eventual winner) making its first Final Four appearance of eight. Kansas was making its first appearance of sixteen, and USC was making its first appearance….. of two.

    So, the Semi Final with Kansas was a back and forth affair. SC led 21 to 20 at half, and held a one point lead at the end of the game. Kansas, coached by Phog Allen and with one star player, Ralph Miller, who would go on to make Oregon State a power, hit a shot pretty much as time expired to win the game.

    The story of the 39-40 season does not end there. The Helms Foundation was pretty much the recognized authority in naming the National Champion for college basketball before the NCAA tournament gained credibility. This is important since there was no NCAA tournament until 1939, but even after the tournament started the Helms Foundation named a National Champion up until 1982. So, for some reason in 1943 the Helms Foundation named USC the National Champion of College Basketball in 1939-40 instead of Indiana, one of six times they named a champion other than the NCAAT winner. Why they did this remains a mystery. The combination of the national semifinal not really being on a neutral court and SCs barnstorming trip that year had to be factors, but no one at this point knows for sure. Regardless, an institution that other schools accept their awarding of Natties awarded one to USC. That is a pretty big deal, and I wish SC would recognize it as such.
    Last edited by uscjohnnymac; 06-12-2024, 06:11 PM.

  • #2
    Wow, great stuff uscjohnnymac! So you are saying that SC could have claimed a national championship, which other schools have claimed from the Helms Foundation or other entities that awarded national championships pre-NCAA tournament? Fascinating.

    Fight on!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by SCthe1 View Post
      Wow, great stuff uscjohnnymac! So you are saying that SC could have claimed a national championship, which other schools have claimed from the Helms Foundation or other entities that awarded national championships pre-NCAA tournament? Fascinating.

      Fight on!
      Below is the Wikipedia summary of the 39-40 Season, and here is a link to the Helm's Foundation Info:

      https://www.rauzulusstreet.com/baske...ampionship.htm

      The only reason I can think of as to why SC takes no credit for this is because they did not win the NCAA Championship, but it is still a pretty big deal.



      Click image for larger version  Name:	Screenshot 2024-06-12 175758.png Views:	0 Size:	79.7 KB ID:	3099
      Last edited by uscjohnnymac; 06-12-2024, 06:06 PM.

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