Sports legends of the Ville (Team Edition): The ’86 Champs

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In the 1985 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament the University of Louisville weren’t ranked, none the less there was plenty of talk surrounding the Cards as they reached 1986.

Denny Crum had established the Cards has an annual powerhouse and with talent like “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison it came as no shock when the red and black were being talked about on a national scale.

The team boasted a 32-7 record, coming out of the Metro conference when March rolled around and Louisville received a number two seed in the west region of the tournament where they met up with Drexel.

Following that victory the Cards went on to claim wins over Bradley, North Carolina, and finally Auburn to reach the Final Four.

Upon reaching that height the Cards beat out another SEC opponent in LSU to go square off with Duke in the National Championship. Then young coach, Mike Krzyzewski had proven his abilities with the Blue Devils; and certainly Crum had done the same with his Cardinals.

As the final buzzer sounded though, Louisville out powered the Blue Devils to claim the championship with a win of 72-69.

The team was made up of mostly area athletes as was the custom for Crum and featured several notables, Eastern alumni Herbert Crook would go on to be drafted by the Indiana Pacers, of course Cards all-star and Georgia native Pervis Ellison would go on to play in the pros for Sacramento, Washington, Boston, and Seattle following his NCAA tournament MVP.

Mississippi native Kenny Payne went to play for the Philadelphia 76ers prior to working as an assistant coach, first at Oregon, and currently at Kentucky.

Small forward, Billy Thompson became a pro with the Lakers, Heat and Warriors and won two NBA championships during his time as a pro.

Outside Sources

Louisville Cardinals

Image courtesy of Basket Infos

About Dave Rose
Recently, I completed a Masters degree in Education and have been writing for Louisville.com for over a year now, prior to that I published a humor book for young adults titled Wearing Socks with Sandals, a book about getting through high school, college, and all of the requisite problems that present themselves during that time. Currently, I spend much of my time in classroom settings as well as writing in various areas. Of course, I’m a big sports fan and love music and film, and love finding new stuff around Louisville.
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