One win shy of breaking school record, 2013 Broncos still can’t touch 1967 team


March 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Santa Clara Broncos forward Marc Trasolini (15) shoots against Loyola Marymount Lions forward Godwin Okonji (22) during the first half in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When Santa Clara’s basketball team started off the season 5-0, they began drawing comparisons to the last Bronco team to do so, the 1967 team. And when they finished the season with 26 wins, it was bandied about as the second highest win total in school history- second only to that 1967 squad who won 27 games. But last year’s broncos, despite their win total, were nothing close the second greatest team in school history. What happened with the 1967 team, though it is often forgotten by the younger generation, is something that a program like Santa Clara, and a conference like the WCC, need to stop and savor, for it comes around only very rarely
The Ogden brothers, Bud and Ralph, were San Jose kids, the sons of Carlos Ogden, a WWII Medal of Honor winner. After graduating from Lincoln High School, not but a few miles from SCU, both brothers would enroll at SC, Bud first, and then Ralph. They would go on to become the driving force behind Santa Clara’s crowning basketball achievement.
Pairing with 6’10 center Dennis “the Tree” Awtrey, the Ogden brothers formed a three-man Protestant front line the likes of with the proud old Catholic college had never seen. During Bud Ogden’s four seasons as a Bronco, the combined record of his teams was 70-10.
And none of those pristine records was more sterling that in 1967. After blasting future short-lived WCC member Nevada by a score of 101-64 in the season opener, the Broncos ran up a 21 game winning streak that saw Ogden score a still standing record of 55 points against Pepperdine. It is no wonder then that he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated before all was said and done.
Dreams of an undefeated regular season, however, could not last. In January, when the Broncos clashed with their eternal 7-mile rival- the San Jose state Spartans- the perfect season received its first imperfection. Both schools at that time shared the San Jose Civic center as a home arena, where opposing fans famously stared each other down from opposite balconies. In what may be the crowning moment in Spartan basketball history, the No. 3 ranked Broncos fell in double overtime by a score of 73-69.
Not discouraged, Santa Clara reeled off five more wins, including a first round NCAA victory over Weber State. However, UCLA, who had ended Santa Clara’s season a year earlier and was just beginning its run of 7 straight NCAA championships, would best the Broncos on their home floor to end the wonder season. Still, an overall record of 27-2 and a program best No. 3 national ranking remain the bright spot in 100 plus years of Santa Clara basketball, a history which includes nearly a dozen NCAA trips and dozen All-Americans. “We kind of caught lightning in a bottle that year,” said Bud Ogden, recalling their miracle season years later. 4 Broncos were named to the All-WCC team, and Awtrey won WCC player of the year.
Bud went on to play for the 76ers, but was a bit undersized for the NBA. A short NBA stint awaited Ralph too, and Awtrey would play for 12 NBA seasons, bringing home a championship with the 1979 Seattle Supersonics. And while future NBA draft pick and All-American Mike Stewart stepped into the spotlight at SCU shortly after, that spotlight grew dimmer and dimmer as hopes of a NCAA championship at Santa Clara became farther and farther from reality.
So when you see that last year’s team won 26 games, don’t be fooled into thinking that was something akin to the best thing to ever happen on the court at SCU. In 1967, the Broncos won 27 of their 29 games- and they didn’t need a third rate tournament or cupcake schedule.The win totals may be similar, but the 1967 team will always remain in class of its own.