Sunday, April 26, 2020

Our first good team

Thankfully, those of us who have been fans for more than a couple of years have seen some very good teams - championship caliber. And the old-timers remember the glory days of the win over Notre Dame. But when did Little Rock first leave our mark on the basketball world? It was in 1943.

If you thing things are crazy and out of kilter during this virus, imagine what it must have been like during those years. December 7, 1941 was the attack on Pearl Harbor, which thrust us into the largest conflict in world history. A large portion of the base of young men were being whisked through basic training and sent overseas.

But, Little Rock had a basketball team. At that time we were Little Rock Junior College, and our best effort to that point had been a .500 season (9-9) in 1932, our second season. And during the 1937 through 1939 seasons we were a combined 1-33. It would not be until 1964 that we got over .500.

We had no team in the 1940 and 1941 seasons, and then a team, but no official coach in the 1942 season. Finally, for the 1942-43 season we hired or appointed Herman Bogan as head basketball coach, and a little history was made. We can imagine that he had to piece together a team from among the lads who were not in the military; but he did pretty well with what he had.

The Trojans were 21-10 during that season, which would be our only 20-win season until Ron Kestenbaum led the Trojans to a 23-6 record in 1983. It is only a blip on the recollections of Trojan fans. (I assume that most of them are not even aware of it.) But it was quite an accomplishment, nonetheless.

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