1978-79 DePaul University Men’s Team

Year Inducted: 2020

Category: Teams

Schools / Organizations: DePaul University

Biography: Perhaps no DePaul team has captured the imagination of Blue Demon faithful and the nation as the 1978-79 edition.  Powered by the “Iron Five” which featured a young team led by a flashy freshman, the 1979 squad put on a late season run that ignited the nation’s interest in the “little school by the L.”  Coming off a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight the previous season, DePaul fans were anxious to see if a promising freshman from Chicago could fill the void left by a veteran trio from the previous season. It took Mark Aguirre all of one trip down the court to announce his presence with authority. Playing at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, the 6-6 forward took a pass off the opening tip; he dribbled, cupped the ball in his hand and dunked over All-American David Greenwood. He would finish the game with 29 points.  Coach Ray Meyer, in his 39th season at DePaul, steered the sixth-ranked Blue Demons, who boasted only one bench player to see action in over half of the games, to a 22-9 regular season and a No. 2 seed in the West Regional of the NCAA Tournament. With the second seed, the Blue Demons earned a first-round bye before facing USC in Los Angeles in the second round.  Curtis Watkins scored 27 points against the Trojans to power the Blue Demons to an 89-78 win.  In a regional semifinal date with Marquette, Aguirre and Watkins each scored 19 points for a 62-56 victory, setting up one of the most famous games in DePaul annals.  With a trip to the Final Four on the line, DePaul and UCLA met in Provo, Utah. The Blue Demons raced to a 51-34 halftime lead and then braced for UCLA’s second-half onslaught which had the Bruins pull within 93-91 in the late stages of the contest before Gary Garland’s lay-up sealed a 95-91 win and sent the Blue Demons to the Final Four.  The national semifinal pitted the Blue Demon’s five against Indiana State and Larry Bird. Watkins played all 40 minutes with a bad knee injured late in the UCLA game, but Bird proved to be too much as DePaul went toe-to-toe with the Sycamores before succumbing 76-74. DePaul beat Pennsylvania 96-93 in the consolation game behind Aguirre’s 34 points.

Team Members in the Picture:

Back Row (L to R): Head Coach Ray Meyer, Asst. Coach Ken Sarubbi, Curtis Watkins, Dennis McGuire, James Mitchem, Mark Aguirre, William Madey, Thomas Barr, Asst. Coach Jim Molinari, Asst. Coach Joey Meyer.

Front Row (L to R): Scott Feiereisel, Dennis Moore, Gary Garland, Chris Nikitas, Clyde Bradshaw.