Votes for the most valuable player in the West Coast Athletic Conference had already been cast late last season when Santa Clara, led by a fiercely competitive 6'6" forward named Carlos (Bud) Ogden (see cover), met defending champion Pacific. In serious question for the Broncos was a place in the NCAA regional. Pacific was winning by seven points at halftime, but Ogden stubbornly battled for rebounds as if his whole life depended on them—and Santa Clara won. The MVP award went elsewhere, yet Ogden's play stuck in the mind of Pacific Coach Dick Edwards long afterward. "He came out and just wasn't going to let them lose," he said.
All the proof needed that Bud Ogden is back this season and still refusing to succumb is that last weekend, after nine weeks of upsets, injuries, misguided passes and missed shots, only two major-college basketball teams, both from California, remained undefeated—UCLA and the University of Santa Clara.
At Santa Clara, Ogden is not the whole show. His little brother Ralph, a 6'5½" forward who banks in long, soft jump shots, and 6' 9" Center Dennis (The Tree) Awtrey, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, join with him to form perhaps the finest Protestant front line any Jesuit institution ever had. Coach Dick Garibaldi also has four tough, smart guards of about equal ability. It is a defense-conscious team, strong and aggressive, with a minimum of the elbow-shy players Garibaldi calls "sweetie pies."
Not everybody has been dazzled by the Broncos' unbeaten season and high ranking (they have been third in the polls for several weeks, just ahead of twice-beaten Davidson). Suspicious Ronald Green consulted an NCAA guide and then wrote in his Charlotte News column, "Santa Clara stops in more unknown places than Santa Claus. There are five teams in North Carolina that could win 20 games with that schedule."
February 10, 1969
Proud people in Santa Clara County could make as light of Davidson's schedule, which shows only six out of 27 games on opponents' home floors, but it is true that Santa Clara stepped way down in class to swat such mosquitoes as UC Davis and Hayward State. Columbia, however, is no mosquito and its only loss this season was to the Broncos in the finals of the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii. "They're very sound," said Columbia Coach Jack Rohan. "Santa Clara jumped off to a 16-2 lead, but we started coming back and naturally the crowd was pulling for us. We caught them and went up by one point, but Santa Clara never lost its poise."
The Broncos won 64-58, their closest call, and despite a good defensive job on Bud by Columbia's Jim McMillian, he was named MVP.
"Bud is extremely valuable," said Rohan. "He's a good shooter, he drives, he's strong, tough. Another thing. He is almost like having a second coach on the floor."
Speculation on why Bud Ogden plays with his special verve usually comes around to that old Psych I standby: the theory of sibling rivalry. In this case there probably is some validity to it. Bud, several classes ahead of Ralph at Lincoln High in San Jose, just south of Santa Clara, looked upon himself only as a 6'5", 6'6" guy who could muscle. He was surprised that 10 or 15 schools were interested in him. Then Ralph came along—when Bud was a freshman at Santa Clara. Where Bud had been double-teamed, Ralph sometimes got triple-teamed. The college offers poured in on him, just as they almost inundated a San Jose contemporary, Dennis Awtrey of Blackford High.
While Ralph and Awtrey tore up their competition, Bud was a frustrated would-be at Santa Clara. Just before his first freshman game, he got a bone chip in his left ankle and missed most of the season. Before his sophomore season he fell asleep at the wheel coming home from the beach, ran the car off the road and separated his left shoulder, requiring an operation. He sat out the year. He came back and had to play part of the next season in a mask after his nose was broken by a flying elbow. As a junior he leaped to block a shot and slashed his shooting hand (20 stitches' worth) on a jagged corner of the backboard.
Bud played and starred anyway, and while his desire to outdo Ralph is strong, nobody else had better fool around with his brother while Bud is around. Ralph got into a shoving match with a big, rugged forward last season in practice and before Garibaldi could break it up Bud had put two quick punches to the jaw of Ralph's antagonist.
Awtrey, who chose Santa Clara over UCLA and Duke, gives Garibaldi and his assistant, Carroll Williams, far less trouble than the hot-tempered Ogdens. In fact, he gives them no trouble at all. He is on an academic scholarship and made the Academic All-America last year. He allowed himself to be pushed and hacked as a sophomore, but now retaliates. He gets good position under the basket, muscles in for close shots, hits well from 10 or 15 feet and helps everybody else on defense. Santa Clara's stingy man-to-man defense is built around the idea that The Tree is always back there for rescue work.
The Broncos' defense involves a lot of pro-style jostling and is designed to force the opposition out of its regular patterns. Whatever route an opponent wants to take, with or without the ball, they try to make him detour. They do this so well, and score so well at the other end, that they are second only to UCLA in average margin of victory and one of the country's leaders in holding opposition scores down.
Awtrey has gained a great deal of confidence as a junior. Before the Houston game in the Cable Car Classic, Garibaldi told him, "I put you on the spot. I told everybody you're better than Ken Spain [Houston's 6'9", 230-pound Olympian]." "I am," said Awtrey. Then he went out and outscored Spain 19-11 and outrebounded him 20-9. The Broncos won in a rout.
"Awtrey is a fine pro prospect," said Bob Feerick, general manager of the San Francisco Warriors and an ex-Bronco coach and player. "He doesn't look as tall as he is because he's so well built. He has the strength and the weight and the attitude to do almost anything. He has a good touch and can shoot outside. It is too early to compare him with the best post men in the pros, but it isn't too early to say he's a lot more basketball player than some people think.
"The guards are not pro potential. They play steady, heady ball. They don't make many mistakes. In a way it's good that there isn't a flashy pass-off man back there. The guards work hard and feed well to the front three. This is a super team. The Ogdens, in fact, are as good pro prospects as Awtrey."
Garibaldi, like Feerick, is a "super" man. That fellow is a "super guy," he will say, and that center is a "super player." Not a super player himself during his undergraduate days at Santa Clara, he probably picked up the habit from Feerick, who was his coach. Garibaldi was good, though. Twice he was assigned to guard Seattle's Elgin Baylor. "The first night I leaned on him pretty good," Garibaldi said, "and the second night he showed me how to play the game." More heroic was his basket against Wyoming that won the 1952 NCAA sub-regional in Corvallis, Ore. Friends gleefully remember the night his basketball shorts were completely ripped off during a well-attended game. He had to run to the bench for a towel and hurry on to the dressing room.
Dick Garibaldi was an extraordinary all-round athlete in Stockton, Calif.—a high school All-America quarterback as well as a pro baseball prospect—but Feerick charmed him into attending Santa Clara on a basketball grant. Garibaldi's brother Bob followed him to Santa Clara 10 years later as an even more versatile whiz, but signed a huge bonus contract with the San Francisco Giants after his sophomore year. He gave a $12,500 slice to the school.
Bob, who has had arm trouble, pitched well for the Giants' Phoenix farm club last season and now he is home in Stockton refereeing games and helping Papa Ernie Garibaldi in the produce business. Neither can wait until the Broncos come to Stockton later in the season to play bitter rival Pacific, the team with the best chance to beat Santa Clara out of the WCAC championship.
Dick stayed with Santa Clara after he got his degree and moved from assistant to head man when Feerick left in 1962. His teams were held back until last year by tough opposition from USF and Pacific, a series of injuries to key players, flunkouts and two-sport stars who decided to imitate his brother and go pro. Now he has the makings of a big-time team, but he has not changed much personally. He usually declines to wear a necktie and he still shares a cubicle with Assistant Coach Williams in a crowded basement office that also houses Santa Clara's baseball coach, assistant football coach, athletic moderator and part-time sports publicist.
Front-line substitute Chris Dempsey, an excellent passer whose ample middle has earned him the nickname Wally Walrus, wanders in with his usual two bags of sunflower seeds and, like all the rest of the varsity players, calls his coach Dick. Guard Terry O'Brien is good-naturedly suspected of spiriting away a photograph from the desk, but probably it is just lost in the clutter. Every morning Garibaldi gathers up a gang to go upstairs in the Benson Memorial Center to the Bronco Corral for coffee with the gas station owner from down the street, whose son starred for Pacific but has been forgiven.
Once in a while Garibaldi and Williams (who went to San Jose State and was on the all-WCAC team with Bill Russell) will feel young again and stay after practice to play one-on-one. No sweetie pies, they will shove each other around, lose their tempers like a couple of Ogdens and then go get even more sweaty in a steambath crowded with students and priests.
Garibaldi and Williams feel they are blessed with a vice-president-in-charge-of-inspirational-signs, Trainer Henry Schmidt, who has been taping ankles at Santa Clara and building up his museum of photographs for 42 years. The Broncos' 17 straight wins this season have inspired Schmitty to such heights—or depths—that the locker room is practically wallpapered with his timeworn slogans.
There are only about 2,900 students on the coeducational Santa Clara campus and the atmosphere is California casual: blue jeans, SC jackets (despite the fact that there happens to be another SC in the state) and even a few Berkeley beards. There are olive trees, palm trees and red-tiled roofs, and the buildings are a nice combination of modern comfort and Spanish flavor. Santa Clara claims to be the oldest university in California (founded 1851). Pacific—that place crops up again—makes the same claim. However, Pacific has no Spanish mission on its grounds. Santa Clara does, although its version is not an original, or even a replica. The first mission was built in 1777 and flooded twice in the first three years. A replacement was completed in 1784, another in 1822, still another in 1850 and yet another in the 1920s.
Garibaldi sometimes wishes the padres would get around instead to replacing the Broncos' home arena, San Jose Civic Auditorium, a WPA project that seats 2,500. The score there must be given over the public-address system every minute because the fans sitting on the stage cannot see the scoreboard. With the lighting in the place it is a wonder anybody can see the scoreboard.
A committee is now at work on plans for an arena-convention center to serve the entire booming county, full of towns you never heard of: Los Altos, Los Gatos, Milpitas. The arena would be a step up into the big time, or at least the big money, for Santa Clara, which has not seen too much spare cash since the football team beat Bear Bryant's Kentucky Wildcats in the Orange Bowl 19 years ago. It would be a big boost to Garibaldi's recruiting, too.
Santa Clara seldom attracts players from faraway basketball hotbeds—no human kangaroos from the playgrounds of Philadelphia, no ball-handling wizards from Pekin, Ill. A few years ago a coaches' convention was in Washington, D.C., and Garibaldi figured it was his big chance to go prospecting in New York City, one of the world's important exporters of unconditionally guaranteed All-America candidates. He set up an appointment with a metropolitan hotshot and anxiously left Washington for New York. The kid stood him up.
The Broncos do not do well even in Los Angeles. Their entire starting lineup is from San Francisco or San Jose and only one man on the squad is from out of state. The Ogden brothers can walk to the campus from their parents' home in about 10 minutes.
That modest house on Walnut Grove Avenue has a hoop and backboard nailed up over the garage door and a strip of wood set in the concrete for a free throw line. Here, Bud and Ralph, born 13 months apart, grew up playing a long series of lawless one-on-one games that usually ended with Bud chasing Ralph into the house or throwing him over a hedge. Occasionally their dad, Carlos Sr., would join in, and whenever one of the sons tried to take advantage of the other, Pop would bounce him off the garage door, which luckily had a little give. "There used to be blood on the driveway sometimes," says Carlos.
The elder Ogden was not an exceptional athlete in high school and college in Illinois. He made his competitive mark in World War II, going in as a private, coming out as a major and winning the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in action near Fort du Roule, France in 1944. His company was pinned down by fire from a German 88-mm. gun and two machine guns, and that was not too conducive to survival, much less taking the offensive.
"Arming himself with a M1 rifle, a grenade launcher, and a number of rifle and hand grenades," says the official citation, "he left his company in position and advanced alone, under fire, up the slope toward the enemy emplacements. Struck on the head and knocked down by a glancing machinegun bullet, Lieutenant Ogden, in spite of his painful wound and enemy fire from close range, continued up the hill. Reaching a vantage point, he silenced the 88-mm. gun with a well-placed rifle grenade and then, with hand grenades, knocked out the two machineguns, again being painfully wounded...."
Carlos Sr., now director of Selective Service for California, coached his sons for 12 years in Little League, Pony League and American Legion baseball (seven boys he coached signed pro contracts) and he even cleared out some walnut trees in the backyard for more informal ball games.
"I can remember him coming up face to face with the umpire in Little League," said Ralph, "and he'd get so mad he'd jump up and down, while Mom hid under the stands."
He was a scoutmaster for five years (both Bud and Ralph were Eagle Scouts) and was given the Scouts' Silver Beaver Award for outstanding work with boys. There are two other Ogden brothers, Jim, who was a fine junior college water polo player, and Fred, playing high school basketball now.
"These boys are going to have a hard time following the dad act," said Mrs. Ogden, "because he's been an exceptional father."
The choicest entries in the large scrap-books Carlos keeps for each of his sons would be clippings from an upset win over UCLA, with which Santa Clara seems to be on a collision course. The two teams met in the regional finals at Albuquerque last year and UCLA won by 21 points. One of Garibaldi's stratagems that night was to send Lew Alcindor to the foul line, figuring the New York giant was not much of a free-throw shooter. Alcindor got banged around plenty, but he put in the foul shots with the regularity of a computer.
A rematch this year could be interesting, at least for a while. Neither team rattles easily, and the board war, Ogden, Ogden and Awtrey vs. Curtis Rowe, Sidney Wicks and Alcindor, might register eight on the Richter earthquake scale. Awtrey is a veteran now, but Alcindor has improved, too, especially at making the quick outlet pass to start the fast break. The Bruins have much better reserves, which would have to show up in the second half, and they have played a tougher schedule. Still, the Jets beat the Colts, right?
Garibaldi and his players dismiss this kind of talk as premature. They insist they are thinking only of the remaining league games. However, most of their fans have already mentally traveled to Stockton and carved up Pacific, smashed the first opponent in the NCAA West Regional (perhaps Weber State or New Mexico State) and confidently marched the Broncos into the championship game.
Unhappily for Santa Clara, that confrontation of unbeatens (if everything goes as dreamed) will be in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, where the Bruins have won 47 straight games in four years. Playing Alcindor and his teammates on their own floor is less dangerous than climbing uphill in the face of enemy machine guns, but not much.