St. Olaf to welcome back 1968-72 men's basketball teams
February 10, 2012
NORTHFIELD, Minn. - St. Olaf will welcome back members of the 1968-72 men's basketball teams, which reached three national tournaments in four seasons, on Saturday afternoon as the current team hosts Saint John's University.
Under Head Coach Bob Gelle, these teams won three Midwest Conference Championships and earned three NCAA College Division Tournament postseason berths. This was prior to the split that created Divisions II and III.
These teams were a combined 68-27, with eight losses coming against scholarship teams such as Valparaiso, North Dakota State, South Dakota, Kentucky Wesleyan, Missouri State and Winona State. These teams also won three games against scholarship programs. Two of the victories came at the expense of St. Cloud State. In a 1972 NCAA Tournament Game, the Oles defeated North Central Conference Co-Champion South Dakota State 87-72 on the Skoglund hardwood, a game that many long-time Ole Basketball observers describe as the best game ever played by an Ole squad.
These teams faced Saint John's - today's opponent - three times during that period. The Oles prevailed in each game, including a thrilling 97-96 overtime victory at SJU in the opener of the 1970-71 season. Current Johnnie Coach Jim Smith was at the helm in each of those three contests.
This is not the first time St. Olaf College and the Athletic Department have recognized some individual members of these teams. Eight players from these teams have been inducted into the St. Olaf College Hall of Fame. In addition, Coach Gelle and assistant coach Jim Dimick have also been so honored.