With the Final Four just days away, it's time to reminisce to when Cougar Basketball wasn't the laughing stock of the West Coast. The 1941 WSU team, led by Head Coach Jack Friel, reached the national semifinals where they defeated Arkansas 64-53.
The team eventually fell to Wisconsin in the national title game, 39-34, but went the farthest into the tournament in program history. Yesterday, the Pac-12 Networks was nice enough to rekindle this happier time with a charming video about the team.
It's #TBT! Let's take a #100Pac12 look at the 1941 @WSUMensHoops squad that went to the Final Four. https://t.co/wo9GEudzAq— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 31, 2016
The Cougs were one of eight teams to make the tournament that season after finishing first in the Pacific Coast Conference. They dispatched of Creighton in the Elite Eight (first round) to take on an Arkansas team that had gone undefeated in Southwest Conference play.
Paul Lindeman, Kirk Gebet and Vern Butts all scored in double figures for the Cougs, who were able to hold onto a 12 point halftime lead. The offense struggled in the title game, however, and Lindeman, an All-American, was limited to 3 points.
The 26 wins in that season was the most of any team coached by Friel, and the only WSU team under his tutelage to make the tournament. A few years back, The Seattle Times Jayson Jenks wrote a story about this team, that's worth revisiting.
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