NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – For the first time in 38 years, the entire 1975-76 Rutgers University men’s basketball team – 12 players and four coaches – reunited back “On the Banks.” An intimate affair of approximately 40 people, the reunion took place Saturday evening at Steakhouse 85, a short walk from the revered College Ave Gym where the group made history.
“It says a lot for Eddie that he can get everyone back, every player and every coach,” said head coach Tom Young when asked his impressions of the evening.” The bottom line is that if you go back to when we were playing, this team got along extremely well. They really did.”
The players and coaches signed balls for future fundraisers and re-lived the many memories of one of the greatest seasons in Rutgers Athletics history and undoubtedly the greatest campaign to ever take place on the hardwood.
“Everyone is here and everyone looks great…It’s just a very special night for us,” said Eddie Jordan. “Hey, they’re eating and drinking for free, what else can they ask for.”
The story of the 1975-76 squad has been told and re-told for nearly 40 years. The number of people who claim to have been in the then 2,800-seat College Avenue Gym on March 1, 1976, the night RU sealed the perfect regular season with an 85-80 win over St. Bonaventure, is in the hundreds of thousands. As was the case so many times before, paint chips fell from the ceiling that night, caused by the tremendous, vibrating noise and the heat generated in the building.
The names on that team still resonate within the minds of all Rutgers fans; Sellers, Dabney, Copeland, Jordan, Bailey, Anderson and on and on. That team pressed and ran opponents right out of the gym on a nightly basis. In an era without the three-point shot, the team broke the 90-point barrier 25 times, the century mark on 11 occasions. The constant defensive pressure applied would often dictate an opponent mistake and an ensuing long pass and, ultimately, an open layup. Sellers to Dabney to Jordan - a blur of uniforms streaking to the hoop.
“The chemisty,” said Jordan when asked his fondest memory of the team. “Playing together and helping one another, just built to a crescendo throughout the state and the country. The pride that the state of New Jersey had (in the team) was so important to me then and now.”
That team won its first 31 games, made an appearance in the NCAA Final Four in Philadelphia, featured a National Coach of the Year and included five of the six leading scorers in Rutgers history at the time. Five players on the team earned All-America honors during their Rutgers careers and four went on to play in the NBA. Six players, the head coach and the team as a whole were inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame. All were there on Saturday night.
Perhaps the highlight of Saturday’s dinner took place after the reception and before a single salad was served. That was when the group configured to re-take the iconic 1975-75 team picture. All the coaches and players were in their original positions.
“Hopefully the guys in the first row can still kneel down and get up,” Jordan joked to Gannett NJ a few days beforehand. “I’m one of them.”
Well, he did. They all did. And they looked great doing it. Just like last time.