'Jacksonville U: Can do!' on CBS Sports Network looks at one of the most improbable NCAA Tournament runs
It's been 50 years since Artis Gilmore led Jacksonville to the NCAA championship game
With the NCAA Tournament looming, CBS Sports Network is telling the story of a team that exemplified the "March Madness" moniker and defied the odds. "Jacksonville U: Can Do!," a hour-long documentary featuring the story of the 1969-70 Jacksonville Dolphins, will premiere on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. ET Sunday.
One of the greatest Cinderella stories in sports history, the Dolphins -- who played at the NAIA level just five years earlier -- upset Iowa and No. 1 Kentucky en route to the NCAA Championship game, where they lost to John Wooden's UCLA Bruins. At an enrollment of 2,200, Jacksonville became the smallest school to ever reach an NCAA final.
Artis Gilmore powered Jacksonville to an offense unlike any college basketball witnessed before. That season, Jacksonville averaged over 100 points per game -- the first team in NCAA history to do so. Gilmore, an All-American and eventual Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, averaged 26.5 points and 22.5 rebounds.
Actor Terrence Mann, a Jacksonville student during its NCAA Tournament run, narrates the documentary; Brian Davis produced it. Gilmore and Dan Issel, a member of the Kentucky team Jacksonville beat and later Gilmore's ABA teammate, were interviewed. Sidney Wicks, the 1970 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, as well as sports writer Curry Kirkpatrick and broadcaster Mike Patrick were interviewed, too.
In a celebration of Black History Month, the documentary delves into Jacksonville's university-wide integration in 1968, and how the 1970 team helped heal the community's racial division.
Gilmore went pro in 1971, eventually playing 19 seasons across the NBA and ABA. He's one of only four players in pro basketball history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season (1971-72). An 11-time All-Star, Gilmore won an ABA Championship with the Kentucky Colonels -- and Issel -- in 1974-75.
Joe Williams, the Dolphins' coach in 1969-70, left for Furman after that season. He then led the Paladins to five NCAA Tournament appearances in eight years; the school has only once tournament appearance since. In 1978 Williams began coaching at Florida State, where he stayed until his 1986 resignation.
Rex Morgan was also instrumental in Jacksonville's NCAA Tournament run. The 6-5 guard fed Gilmore down low, averaging nine assists to go along with his 18.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. The Boston Celtics selected him with the 34th pick in the 1970 NBA Draft; Morgan played two seasons with them.
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