Starting Five: Lew Alcindor, Lucius Allen, Lynn Shackelford, Mike Warren, Mike Lynn
In the late 1960s, John Wooden was establishing his empire and stacking up national championships in Westwood. When the 1967-68 Bruins started rolling, they were nearly impossible to beat. UCLA’s sole loss during the season came against Houston in the Game of the Century when Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) was recovering from a scratched cornea.
Alcindor was a once-in-a-lifetime player. His dominance did not come only because of his size and length. He ruled games by his surprising agility. Because the slam dunk was not allowed in college hoops, he was forced to develop post moves and shooting skills that he would not have otherwise.
Without a doubt, this could have easily become a one-player show. But Wooden, the quintessential teacher of team, made sure that the Bruins were balanced. Alcindor was not alone on the court. All five starters averaged double figures. Lucius Allen stood out as a true shooter who lessened some of the pressure in the paint.
This version of UCLA basketball brilliance was at full luster when it came to the 1968 Final Four. In the national semifinal game against Houston, Alcindor was at full strength and the Bruins crushed the Cougars by 32. The championship contest was not much closer, as Wooden’s warriors trampled the North Carolina Tar Heels, 78-55.
CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello makes a great point about this UCLA team. He said:
A team with one loss might scare some away from anointing this version of the Bruins as one of the greatest of all time, but it shouldn't. UCLA steamrolled teams, averaging 93.4 points per game and beating teams by 26.2 per game.