Lucas had a secret weapon, his mind
Chat wrap with Jerry Lucas
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Lucas was All-American on court, in class
By Mike Puma
Special to ESPN.com
March 19, 1960 - Ohio State had ended the regular season ranked No. 3 in the country, while defending national champion California was rated second. But when the NCAA final was over, it was clear that the Buckeyes, led by Jerry Lucas, were No. 1.
The sophomore All-American center connected on 5-of-6 field-goal attempts in the first half as Ohio State started 16-of-19 in taking a 37-19 halftime lead. The five-point underdogs didn't let down in the second half and coasted to a 75-55 victory in the Cow Palace in San Francisco as five Buckeyes scored in double figures.
"One of the great things about that team is that it was a team," Lucas said.
He was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after being the top scorer (16 points) and rebounder (10) in the biggest title-game rout in the first 22 years of the NCAA Tournament. But the job he did defensively might have been his biggest contribution.
Lucas had the task of guarding All-American center Darrall Imhoff, who had scored 25 points in Cal's semifinal victory over No. 1-ranked Cincinnati and Oscar Robertson. But the 6-foot-8 Lucas forced the 6-foot-10 Imhoff into 3-of-9 shooting, holding him to eight points and five rebounds.
Odds 'n' EndsLucas' teams won more than 125 consecutive games from the fifth grade until his last game as a high school senior.
At his insistence, Lucas entered Ohio State on an academic rather than an athletic scholarship.
In his NCAA Tournament debut, Lucas scored a career postseason high 36 points and had 25 rebounds in Ohio State's 98-79 victory over Western Kentucky in 1960.
That year, Ohio State became the only national champion to win all its NCAA Tournament games by more than 15 points.
One of Lucas' teammates at Ohio State was Bobby Knight, who was a substitute guard for three seasons.
Four individuals from the 1960 Ohio State national championship team -- Lucas, Knight, John Havlicek and coach Fred Taylor -- are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Lucas was inducted in April 1980, along with Olympic teammates Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.
Eight days after scoring 25 points in the United States' gold-medal game victory over Brazil in the 1960 Olympics, Lucas wed fellow Ohio State student Treva Geib. They had two children before they divorced in 1973.
Lucas scored a career-high 48 points against Michigan State on Feb. 11, 1961.
In winning his second Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four award in 1961, Lucas scored 56 points (20-of-28 from the field and 16-of-17 foul shots) and grabbed 25 rebounds.
Though he had game-highs of 27 points and 12 rebounds in the final, No. 1 Ohio State was upset by Cincinnati, 70-65 in overtime, ending the Buckeyes' 32-game winning streak.
Sports Illustrated named Lucas "Sportsman of the Year" for 1961.
Lucas sprained his left knee in No. 1 Ohio State's 84-68 rout of Wake Forest in the 1962 NCAA Tournament semifinal.
In the final the next night, Lucas was outplayed by Cincinnati center Paul Hogue, who scored 22 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the No. 2 Bearcats' 71-59 victory. Lucas shot only 5-of-17 in scoring 11 points to go with 16 rebounds.
For his career, Lucas averaged 22.2 points and 16.4 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.
In each of his three seasons at Ohio State, Lucas led the nation in
field-goal percentage - 63.7, 62.3 and 61.1.
Lucas became the first college player to gain five individual national
statistic titles in a career (two for rebounding, three for shooting).
Lucas finished his career with the three best single-season rebounding
marks in Big Ten history (16.3, 17.4 and 17.8).
He grabbed at least 30 rebounds in a game three times.
Ohio State went 78-6 in Lucas' three seasons (25-3, 27-1 and 26-2).
Lucas is the only forward in NBA history to have collected 40 rebounds in a game, against Philadelphia on Feb. 29, 1964.
Though Lucas and Robertson were Cincinnati Royals teammates for six seasons, the team won only one of five postseason series and in 1968 and 1969, it didn't even make the playoffs.
Lucas had his multiple 20-20 seasons in 1964-65 (21.4 points, 20 rebounds) and 1965-66 (21.5 points, 21.1 rebounds). The only player who accomplished this feat more was Chamberlain, who did it 10 times.
Although he was outstanding on the boards, Lucas broke a cardinal rule of rebounding by seldom boxing out. "Boxing out wasn't important to me because I was going to get there fast anyway," Lucas said. "As a rule, I never boxed out. I just went and got the ball."
In October 1969, new coach Bob Cousy got rid of Lucas, trading him to the San Francisco Warriors for two spare parts, Jim King (7.2 career average) and Bill Turner (5.4).
During an appearance on the Tonight Show in the seventies, Lucas met the members of the audience before the show and then put names to faces for host Johnny Carson.
In 1989, two years after divorcing his second wife, Shara Lee Beard, he married Cheri Wulf.
In 1996, Lucas was selected as one of the NBA's 50 greatest players as part of the league's 50th anniversary celebration.
Ohio State retired Lucas' No. 11 on Feb. 23, 2000. He became the first
men's basketball player in Buckeyes' history to have his uniform retired.
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