UW-Platteville's 1994-95 men's basketball team inducted into the Pioneer Hall of Fame
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The pursuit of perfection is mostly seen as almost negative, unattainable and even moreso, unthinkable. In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” And Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” Yet, by taking a one-game-at-a-time approach, the 1994-95 UW-Platteville men’s basketball team did reach perfection, winning all 31 games and the NCAA Division III national championship.
The 1994-95 squad was inducted into the Pioneer Hall of Fame on May 5, becoming just the second team ever to be inducted en masse.
“This was such an unbelievable year, an unbelievable sequence of occurrences that happened in 1994-95,” said then-Pioneer coach Bo Ryan, now the Wisconsin Badgers’ head coach. “You would never know though coming into our practices that we were 8-0 or 15-0 or 20-0. We had leadership through a lot of places. I never had to worry about leadership, whether they were starters, all-conference or reserves.”
The 1994-95 team became the first to win all 16 Wisconsin State University Conference games, claiming the league title. Included in that stretch was a 67-65 win at UW-Eau Claire, breaking a 20-year University Arena jinx. The Pioneers went on to defeat St. John’s and UW-Whitewater in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament in Williams Fieldhouse. In the Sweet 16, the Pioneers topped Millsaps and Hampden-Sydney earning a trip to the final four.
After beating Trinity, Conn., in the semifinals, the Pioneers met another undefeated squad, Manchester, Ind., coached by Steve Alford, who now is the UCLA head coach. The Pioneers capped off their perfect 31-0 season beating Manchester 69-55. It’s the first and only NCAA basketball championship game at any level between two undefeated teams.
Eighteen players, coaches and student personnel assembled on Bo Ryan Court to relive the experiences. Aaron Lancaster and Saul Phillips spoke on behalf of the players, while Ryan also addressed the 175 in attendance.
“Thanks goes to the fans, the best fans in America,” Ryan said. “No DIII program has better fans than these in Platteville.”
Dr. Kyle Metzloff, a professor in the industrial studies department, and Assistant Professor Eric Rimel, worked with students Kellsey Welter and Jared Stearns to produce the unique medallions given to the newest inductees.
Written by: Paul Erickson, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, firstname.lastname@example.org
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