Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Mens College Water Polo
jeff
Posts: 1055
Joined: Sat May 31, 2014 6:27 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: I am a fan.

Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby jeff » Wed Apr 08, 2020 5:44 pm

It seems that almost every day, The Athletic, ESPN, Yahoo Sports, or the major newspapers are publishing a list of the all-time greats in one sport or another. (If you’re a baseball fan and don’t read The Athletic, I recommend that you subscribe just to read “The Baseball 100” by Joe Posnanski. I think this lengthy piece is the best writing about baseball since Roger Angell’s work for The New Yorker.)

Because I like to compile lists and because it might be a nice diversion during these difficult times, I am posting my “Top 10 Men’s Teams of the NCAA Era” (1969 to the present). It is difficult to compare players and teams from different decades and eras, especially in a sport like water polo that has not done a good job of maintaining records and statistics, but I will attempt to make these comparisons anyway.

A note about some of the factors I considered in making my selections:

First, every team I selected won an NCAA championship. There have been a number of really good teams that finished second in the NCAA tournament (for example, Cal’s 1989 team), but a team had to win the NCAA championship to make my list.

Second, I considered a team’s won-loss record and I gave credit to teams that went undefeated (although not every undefeated team made my list).

Third, I considered a team’s performance and won-loss record in the year before and the year after the year in question. For example, while considering Pepperdine’s excellent 1997 NCAA championship team (25-3), I considered their poor record in 1996 (10-18) and uninspiring record in 1998 (13-11). I did this because I believe that, as a general matter, a truly great team should be really good in more than one year.

Fourth, I considered the quality of a team’s competition (for example, in the 1970s and 80s, the top teams played each other more frequently than they do now).

Fifth, I considered whether (and at what level) a team’s players received All-American recognition from the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) and whether one of the team’s players was named the ACWPC’s player-of-the-year and/or won the Cutino Award. The ACWPC’s website lists an All-American team for 1975 (the list appears to be incomplete), does not list an All-American team for 1976 or 1977, and lists an All-American team for every year since 1978 (the website is missing a link to the 1980 All-American team). The ACWPC website does not list a coach-of-the-year or a player-of-the-year until 1982. The NCAA named its first All-Tournament Team and the Tournament’s “Most Outstanding Player” in 1972. The NCAA website lists only 3 players on the All-Tournament Teams for 1973 and 1974. I assume these lists are incomplete. The NCAA website does not list a “Most Outstanding Player” for the 1973 and 1978 seasons. I don’t know if this is because of an inadvertent clerical error or because no player received the award in those years. In addition to the information I found on the ACWPC and NCAA websites, I have cited information I found on the websites from the colleges on my list. For example, the Cal and UCLA websites list All-American players from the mid-1960s. I’m not sure which body bestowed All-American honors in the 1960s, but I have included the All-American team information I found on the Cal and UCLA websites. The Olympic Club established the Cutino Award in 1999. In most years, the same player won the Cutino Award and the ACWPC player-of-the-year award. The exceptions are 2004, when Tony Azevedo won the Cutino Award and Brett Ormsby was the player-of-the-year; 2006, when John Mann won the Cutino Award and Juan Delgadillo was the player-of-the-year; 2012, when Balazas Erdelyi won the Cutino Award and Nikola Vavic was the player-of-the-year; and 2013, when Erdelyi won the Cutino Award and he and Vavic shared the player-of-the-year award.

Sixth, I considered how a team’s top players performed after their collegiate careers because doing so gives us additional and useful information about the players.

Seventh, I did not select a team from the same college in back-to-back years (this was to avoid selecting the same or mostly the same team more than once). For example, after selecting a 2008 team, I did not select a team from that college in 2007 or 2009. As we will see, just two players played a significant role on two teams that made my list.

Eighth, I considered the opinions of people who are much more knowledgeable about water polo than I am.

With that introduction, here is the write-up of my top 10 teams, beginning with Team No. 10 (if an asterisk appears in the first line of a particular entry, I think that team was the best team of the decade):

Team No. 10: USC, 2008*

USC’s 2008 team was undefeated (29-0), winning the school’s fourth NCAA championship and the first of six consecutive championships. The 2008 NCAA tournament was played at Stanford. USC beat Navy 14-9 in the semifinals and Stanford 7-5 in the finals before 2,660 fans. USC outscored its opponents 340-138 in 2008, winning three games in overtime and six games by one goal. USC finished 19-3 in 2007, losing to Cal 8-6 in the NCAA championship game. USC finished 26-2 in 2009, beating UCLA 7-6 in the NCAA championship game. USC’s 2009 team won its first 7 games, so the 2008-09 teams won 36 straight games.

Jovan Vavic was the Division 1 coach of the year in 2008. But for his alleged role in the college-admissions scandal, Vavic was certain to be inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame and his record speaks for itself. Center J.W. Krumpholz won the Cutino Award in 2008 and 2009, was named the player-of-the-year by the ACWPC in both years, and was named the “Most Outstanding Player” of the 2008 NCAA tournament. Krumpholz and Shea Buckner were first team All Americans in 2008. Goalie Joel Dennerley, Matt Sagehorn, and Arjan Ligtenberg were 2nd team All Americans; Jovan Vranes was a 3rd team All American; and Justin Rappel was an honorable mention All American. Buckner was a member of the 2012 Olympic team. Krumpholz was a member of the 2008 Olympic team. Although Krumpholz did not have a lengthy international career, he has a chance to be inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame. As an aside, Krumpholz’s father, Kurt Krumpholz, won two NCAA water polo championships with UCLA (1971 and 1972) and was a 3x All American. Kurt was also a great swimmer, setting the world record in the 400-meter freestyle in 1972 and swimming on the American 800-meter freestyle relay team that won the gold medal and set the world record at the 1973 World Championships.

Joel Dennerley was 21 when he entered USC as a freshman in 2008. Even taking his age advantage into consideration, Dennerley had a tremendous career at USC. He was a 4x NCAA champion, a 2nd team All American in 2008, an honorable mention All American in 2009, and a 1st team All American in 2010 and 2011. Dennerley won the Cutino Award in 2011, becoming the first goalie to win the Award, and was named the player-of-the-year by the ACWPC. He played for Australia in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and would have been on Australia’s 2020 Olympic team if the Olympics had not been postponed. Dennerley was considered by some to be the 6th best goalie in the world in 2016. Considering a player’s performance during his collegiate career only, I think Dennerley is among the top 4 or 5 goalies of the NCAA era, behind Stanford’s John Gansel and in the same class as Cal’s Jeff Brush and UCLA’s Garrett Danner and Matt Swanson. Considering a player’s performance during his collegiate and international careers, Dennerley probably ranks in the top 7 or 8 collegiate goalies, behind UCSB’s Craig Wilson and in the same class as San Jose State’s Steve Hamann, Stanford’s Chris Dorst, Pepperdine’s Merrill Moses, U.C. Irvine’s Chris Duplanty, and UCLA’s Brandon Brooks and Dan Hackett. Dennerley will almost certainly be inducted into the Australian Water Polo Hall of Fame.

If anyone finds errors in my text, please send me a message offline and I will gladly correct them.

Just for the heck of it: Recognition to the first person who can tell us, without looking it up, the name of the classic R&B song in which the lead singer says, “Play it, Steve.” Extra credit if the person can also tell us which instrument “Steve” played.

Next up, later in the week, Team No. 9.

tepcanman
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:30 pm

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby tepcanman » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:32 pm

Soul Man. Guitar.

-32H20polo
Posts: 71
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:13 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: fan

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby -32H20polo » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:34 am

Soul Man- Saxaphone

jeff
Posts: 1055
Joined: Sat May 31, 2014 6:27 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: I am a fan.

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby jeff » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:34 pm

Next up on my top 10 list:

Team No. 9: Stanford, 1994

Stanford’s 1994 team was 27-1, winning the school’s eighth NCAA championship and second in a row. The 1994 NCAA tournament was played in Long Beach. Stanford beat Air Force 20-6 in the first round, UCLA 9-5 in the semifinals, and USC 14-10 in the finals before 3,608 fans. Stanford has not published a detailed summary of its 1994 season, so I don’t have access to the results from every Stanford game that year. Stanford suffered its only defeat late in the season, losing to Cal by one goal in a game played in Berkeley. Although this loss kept Stanford from having an undefeated season, a player on the team told me that the loss to Cal came at the right time because the team had become a bit complacent. Stanford finished 24-6 in 1993, beating USC 11-9 in the NCAA championship game. Stanford finished 17-11 in 1995. Stanford was one of the pre-season favorites in 1995. However, Jeremy Laster missed the first several weeks of the season because he was training with the national team and Stanford never fully recovered. I selected Stanford’s 1994 team over Stanford’s 1993 team because the 1994 team had a better record, the 1994 team had more 1st team All Americans, Wolf Wigo was the player-of-the-year in 1994 and not 1993, and Stanford’s core players in 1994 were a year older and had more experience than the core players in 1993.

Dante Dettamanti was the coach-of-the-year in 1994. In his 25 years at Stanford, Dettamanti’s teams won eight NCAA championships, finished second six times, finished third five times, and finished fourth once. He won at least one NCAA championship in four decades. No other water polo coach has accomplished this feat. Dettamanti’s record at Stanford was 570-148-6. His record at Stanford, UCSB, and Occidental was 666-209-6. Only Ted Newland won more NCAA games than Dettamanti. Dettamanti was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2002. Although it’s a close call, I think Dettamanti is the greatest coach of the NCAA era.

Wolf Wigo was the ACWPC player-of-the-year in 1994. Wigo, Goalie Jack Bowen, Center Frank Schneider, and Jeremy Laster were 1st team All Americans. Brian Wallin was a 2nd team All American. Bowen, Laster, and Schneider shared the NCAA tournament’s “Most Outstanding Player” Award. Laster was a member of the 1996 Olympic team. Bowen was an alternate (behind Dan Hackett and Chris Duplanty) on the 1996 Olympic team.

Despite missing a number of games at Stanford because of back problems, Wigo was a 2x NCAA champion, a 3rd team All American in 1991, a 2nd team All American in 1992, a 1st team All American in 1993 and 1994, and the player-of-the-year in 1994. Dettamanti has been quoted as saying that Wigo, Tony Azevedo, and Jody Campbell were the three best players he coached at Stanford. Wigo was a member of the senior national team for 12 years, a 3x Olympian, the captain of the American Olympic team in 2004, and USA Water Polo’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1999, 2000, and 2003. Wigo was the leading scorer on our 2000 Olympic team, scoring 16 goals. He was a finalist for the World Water Polo Player-of-the-Year Award in 2000. Wigo had a tremendous desire to win. Jack Bowen has said that, “Wolf dislikes losing more than anyone I know.” Reggie Jackson thinks there should be a separate wing within the Baseball Hall of Fame reserved for the truly elite players. (If you followed Jackson’s career, you know that Jackson believes he is one of those elite players.) Wigo was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2011. In my opinion, he is one of the seven greatest American water polo players and would be a starter on America’s all-time team. If there were an elite wing within the Water Polo Hall of Fame, Wigo would be one of the charter members.

Stanford 9, USC 8. In a hypothetical matchup between my No. 9 and 10 teams, I think the 1994 Stanford team would beat the 2008 USC team by one goal. USC goalie Joel Dennerley was a 2nd team All American in 2008 and played for Australia in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Stanford goalie Jack Bowen was a 1st team All American in 1994 and an alternate on our 1996 Olympic team. Although Dennerley has had a better career than Bowen, he didn’t have a lot of NCAA experience in 2008 and I think Bowen would hold his own in our hypothetical matchup. USC center J.W. Krumpholz won the Cutino award and the ACWPC player-of-the-year award in 2008 and was a member of our 2008 Olympic team. He would be a handful for Stanford in our matchup. Stanford center Frank Schneider (from Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose) came into his own during the 1994 season and was a 1st team All American. I give the edge, but not an enormous one, to USC at the center position. USC’s best attacker was Shea Buckner, a 1st team All American in 2008 and a 2012 Olympian. Left-hander Jeremy Laster, a 1st team All American in 1994 and a 1996 Olympian, was Stanford’s second-best attacker. Although they were both excellent players, I give the edge to Laster over Buckner. In our hypothetical matchup, I think USC would take a one or two-goal lead at half-time. However, Stanford’s endurance, speed, relentless counterattacks, and pressure defense would catch up to USC by the middle of the third quarter and Stanford would pull ahead late in the game on a great play by Wigo. In this matchup, USC would ultimately have no answer for Wigo. The best player in the pool on this day and not by a slight margin.

Just for the heck of it: In which song does a rock star claim that he was “born in a crossfire hurricane” and “raised by a toothless, bearded hag”?

Note: Once the coronavirus pandemic is under control, I will buy several rounds of Pliny the Elder IPAs for the winner of my trivia contest (assuming the winner is of legal drinking age and doesn’t use the Internet to find the answers to my questions). The leader after round one of the competition is tepcanman, who was the first to tell us that the words, “Play it, Steve,” appear in the song “Soul Man” and that “Steve” played the guitar. The original (and best) version of “Soul Man” was released by Sam & Dave in 1967. Steve Cropper played rhythm and lead guitar for Booker T. and the MG’s, a band that was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 (the same year Sam & Dave were inducted into the Hall of Fame). In addition to recording their own songs, Booker T. and the MG’s served as the house band for the legendary Stax records in Memphis. Among other performers, Booker T. and the MG’s recorded songs with Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, and Johnnie Taylor. Cropper later played with the Blues Brothers and appears on their version of “Soul Man.” In its list of the 100 greatest guitar players of the Rock & Soul era, Rolling Stone magazine listed Cropper 39th. I would have ranked him higher. Cropper's team-first mentality would have fit in well with the 1994 Stanford team. In Cropper's words, "I don't care about being center stage. I'm a band member, always been a band member."

Next up, in a few days, Team No. 8.

kernsting
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 4:39 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: Daughter plays in Pacific zone. Involved dad and photographer.

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby kernsting » Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:53 pm

Mick Jagger - Jumpin Jack Flash.

In fact its a gas..

thanks for the diversion. this is as close to polo as I am getting for a while.

Rbpolo0414
Posts: 3392
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:43 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: Fan

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby Rbpolo0414 » Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:01 pm

jeff wrote:Next up on my top 10 list:

Team No. 9: Stanford, 1994

Stanford’s 1994 team was 27-1, winning the school’s eighth NCAA championship and second in a row. The 1994 NCAA tournament was played in Long Beach. Stanford beat Air Force 20-6 in the first round, UCLA 9-5 in the semifinals, and USC 14-10 in the finals before 3,608 fans. Stanford has not published a detailed summary of its 1994 season, so I don’t have access to the results from every Stanford game that year. Stanford suffered its only defeat late in the season, losing to Cal by one goal in a game played in Berkeley. Although this loss kept Stanford from having an undefeated season, a player on the team told me that the loss to Cal came at the right time because the team had become a bit complacent. Stanford finished 24-6 in 1993, beating USC 11-9 in the NCAA championship game. Stanford finished 17-11 in 1995. Stanford was one of the pre-season favorites in 1995. However, Jeremy Laster missed the first several weeks of the season because he was training with the national team and Stanford never fully recovered. I selected Stanford’s 1994 team over Stanford’s 1993 team because the 1994 team had a better record, the 1994 team had more 1st team All Americans, Wolf Wigo was the player-of-the-year in 1994 and not 1993, and Stanford’s core players in 1994 were a year older and had more experience than the core players in 1993.

Dante Dettamanti was the coach-of-the-year in 1994. In his 25 years at Stanford, Dettamanti’s teams won eight NCAA championships, finished second six times, finished third five times, and finished fourth once. He won at least one NCAA championship in four decades. No other water polo coach has accomplished this feat. Dettamanti’s record at Stanford was 570-148-6. His record at Stanford, UCSB, and Occidental was 666-209-6. Only Ted Newland won more NCAA games than Dettamanti. Dettamanti was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2002. Although it’s a close call, I think Dettamanti is the greatest coach of the NCAA era.

Wolf Wigo was the ACWPC player-of-the-year in 1994. Wigo, Goalie Jack Bowen, Center Frank Schneider, and Jeremy Laster were 1st team All Americans. Brian Wallin was a 2nd team All American. Bowen, Laster, and Schneider shared the NCAA tournament’s “Most Outstanding Player” Award. Laster was a member of the 1996 Olympic team. Bowen was an alternate (behind Dan Hackett and Chris Duplanty) on the 1996 Olympic team.

Despite missing a number of games at Stanford because of back problems, Wigo was a 2x NCAA champion, a 3rd team All American in 1991, a 2nd team All American in 1992, a 1st team All American in 1993 and 1994, and the player-of-the-year in 1994. Dettamanti has been quoted as saying that Wigo, Tony Azevedo, and Jody Campbell were the three best players he coached at Stanford. Wigo was a member of the senior national team for 12 years, a 3x Olympian, the captain of the American Olympic team in 2004, and USA Water Polo’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1999, 2000, and 2003. Wigo was the leading scorer on our 2000 Olympic team, scoring 16 goals. He was a finalist for the World Water Polo Player-of-the-Year Award in 2000. Wigo had a tremendous desire to win. Jack Bowen has said that, “Wolf dislikes losing more than anyone I know.” Reggie Jackson thinks there should be a separate wing within the Baseball Hall of Fame reserved for the truly elite players. (If you followed Jackson’s career, you know that Jackson believes he is one of those elite players.) Wigo was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2011. In my opinion, he is one of the seven greatest American water polo players and would be a starter on America’s all-time team. If there were an elite wing within the Water Polo Hall of Fame, Wigo would be one of the charter members.

Stanford 9, USC 8. In a hypothetical matchup between my No. 9 and 10 teams, I think the 1994 Stanford team would beat the 2008 USC team by one goal. USC goalie Joel Dennerley was a 2nd team All American in 2008 and played for Australia in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Stanford goalie Jack Bowen was a 1st team All American in 1994 and an alternate on our 1996 Olympic team. Although Dennerley has had a better career than Bowen, he didn’t have a lot of NCAA experience in 2008 and I think Bowen would hold his own in our hypothetical matchup. USC center J.W. Krumpholz won the Cutino award and the ACWPC player-of-the-year award in 2008 and was a member of our 2008 Olympic team. He would be a handful for Stanford in our matchup. Stanford center Frank Schneider (from Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose) came into his own during the 1994 season and was a 1st team All American. I give the edge, but not an enormous one, to USC at the center position. USC’s best attacker was Shea Buckner, a 1st team All American in 2008 and a 2012 Olympian. Left-hander Jeremy Laster, a 1st team All American in 1994 and a 1996 Olympian, was Stanford’s second-best attacker. Although they were both excellent players, I give the edge to Laster over Buckner. In our hypothetical matchup, I think USC would take a one or two-goal lead at half-time. However, Stanford’s endurance, speed, relentless counterattacks, and pressure defense would catch up to USC by the middle of the third quarter and Stanford would pull ahead late in the game on a great play by Wigo. In this matchup, USC would ultimately have no answer for Wigo. The best player in the pool on this day and not by a slight margin.

Just for the heck of it: In which song does a rock star claim that he was “born in a crossfire hurricane” and “raised by a toothless, bearded hag”?

Note: Once the coronavirus pandemic is under control, I will buy several rounds of Pliny the Elder IPAs for the winner of my trivia contest (assuming the winner is of legal drinking age and doesn’t use the Internet to find the answers to my questions). The leader after round one of the competition is tepcanman, who was the first to tell us that the words, “Play it, Steve,” appear in the song “Soul Man” and that “Steve” played the guitar. The original (and best) version of “Soul Man” was released by Sam & Dave in 1967. Steve Cropper played rhythm and lead guitar for Booker T. and the MG’s, a band that was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 (the same year Sam & Dave were inducted into the Hall of Fame). In addition to recording their own songs, Booker T. and the MG’s served as the house band for the legendary Stax records in Memphis. Among other performers, Booker T. and the MG’s recorded songs with Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, and Johnnie Taylor. Cropper later played with the Blues Brothers and appears on their version of “Soul Man.” In its list of the 100 greatest guitar players of the Rock & Soul era, Rolling Stone magazine listed Cropper 39th. I would have ranked him higher. Cropper's team-first mentality would have fit in well with the 1994 Stanford team. In Cropper's words, "I don't care about being center stage. I'm a band member, always been a band member."

Next up, in a few days, Team No. 8.


I attended this final at the old Belmont Plaza (my first NCAA final). It was loud in there and I can’t imagine the players could hear the coach yelling out instructions. Anyone know who used to announce those games? I can remember the echo of his voice saying Wolf Wiiiigo.

User avatar
stickman
Posts: 694
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:54 pm

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby stickman » Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:55 am

”I attended this final at the old Belmont Plaza (my first NCAA final). It was loud in there and I can’t imagine the players could hear the coach yelling out instructions. Anyone know who used to announce those games? I can remember the echo of his voice saying Wolf Wiiiigo.“

I’m gonna guess John Montrella. He used to announced a lot of the CiF finals for swim and polo at Belmont, so he might have done this game too.

Thanks Jeff...good stuff as always.

jeff
Posts: 1055
Joined: Sat May 31, 2014 6:27 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: I am a fan.

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby jeff » Sun Apr 12, 2020 7:17 pm

Next up in my Top 10 list, Team No. 8.

Team No. 8: U.C. Irvine (UCI), 1982

Of the five schools represented in my Top 10 list, the Cal, UCLA, and USC water polo websites are the most robust. UCI’s website could be more informative. My thanks to UCI’s sports information director who was kind enough to answer some of my questions from her home in Orange County.

UCI’s 1982 team was undefeated (30-0), winning the school’s second NCAA championship. The 1982 NCAA tournament was played at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach. UCI beat Brown 13-2 in the first round, Cal 8-5 in the semifinals, and Stanford 7-4 in the finals before 2,128 fans. Hall-of-Famer Mike Evans did not play for UCI in 1982 because he was completing his Mormon mission in South America. Imagine how good UCI would have been if Evans had played in 1982. UCI finished 22-10-1 in 1981. Hall-of-Famer Peter Campbell redshirted in 1981, probably because coach Ted Newland sensed that he had a chance to win the NCAA championship in 1982. UCI finished 22-11-2 in 1983. UCI finished fourth in the 1981 and 1983 NCAA championship tournaments.

Ted Newland was the coach-of-the-year in 1982. In his 39 years at UCI, Newland’s teams had a record of 714-345-6, won three NCAA championships (1970, 1982, and 1989), finished second six times, and participated in 21 NCAA tournaments. Newland was named the ACWPC coach-of-the-year three times and coached 12 Olympians and seven members of the Water Polo Hall of Fame. Five of Newland’s players were members of the 2004 Olympic team. For about the first half of the NCAA era, the “Big Four” of college water polo was comprised of Cal, Stanford, UCLA, and UCI. (USC replaced UCI in the “Big Four” towards the end of Newland’s tenure and after the arrival of Jovan Vavic at USC.) UCI’s success during Newland’s tenure was attributable, in no small part, to his ability to find and develop lesser-known high school players. Before arriving at UCI in 1966, Newland helped start the boys’ water polo programs at Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar High Schools. Newland was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2014. He died in 2019. Newland will be remembered as one of America’s greatest water polo coaches. Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, if Newland were alive and read this posting, he would let me have it for not rating his 1982 team higher than No. 8.

Peter Campbell was the ACWPC player-of-the-year in 1982. Peter Campbell, Goalie John O’Brien, and John Vargas were 1st team All Americans in 1982. Peter’s younger brother, Jeff, was a 2nd team All American. Trevor Dodson and Diggy Riley were 3rd team All Americans. George Robertson was an honorable mention All American. Peter Campbell, O’Brien, and Stanford’s James Bergeson shared the NCAA tournament’s “Most Outstanding Player” Award in 1982. As good as the Campbell brothers and Vargas were in 1982, a UCI insider told me that the players on the 1982 team would say that O’Brien was the best player on the team.

In addition to being the ACWPC player-of-the-year in 1982, Peter Campbell was a 4x All American, a member of the senior national team for about 12 years, and a member of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic teams. He was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2000. Jeff Campbell was the player-of-the-year in 1985, a 4x time All American, a member of the senior national team for about 12 years, and a member of the 1988 and 1992 Olympic teams. He was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2001. John Vargas was a 2x time All American, a member of the 1992 Olympic team, and the coach of the 2000 Olympic team. His Stanford teams have won two NCAA championships (2002 and 2019).

Just for the heck of it: The first person to correctly identify the song quoted below (without looking it up) gets one point; the first person to give us the name of the woman who is featured prominently in the song gets one point.

“Beyond the Palace, hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
Girls comb their hair in rear-view mirrors, and the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark, kids are huddled on the beach in a mist”

Note: Tepcanman and kernsting are the leaders after the first two rounds of my contest. Tepcanman won round 1. In round 2, kernsting was the first person to tell us that Mick Jagger said he “was born in a crossfire hurricane” and “raised by a toothless, bearded hag” in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the Rolling Stones’ classic rocker from 1968.

Next up, in a few days, Team No. 7 and a description of the matchup between UCI and Team No. 7.

DavisWP
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:32 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: fan

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby DavisWP » Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:02 pm

Born to Run - and the everlasting kiss goes to Wendy.

SwimCoach
Posts: 1285
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:23 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: Fan, Instructor, Lifelong Swimmer

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby SwimCoach » Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:02 pm

That was such a great UCI team. Got to love Coach Newland. Keep them coming!

-32H20polo
Posts: 71
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:13 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: fan

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby -32H20polo » Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:50 am

I cannot believe you would give credit or give any type of honor to a person or team/school that are so shady as USC and Jovan Vavic. Maybe the players deserve it but the school and the coach DO NOT.

Rbpolo0414
Posts: 3392
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:43 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: Fan

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby Rbpolo0414 » Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:06 pm

-32H20polo wrote:I cannot believe you would give credit or give any type of honor to a person or team/school that are so shady as USC and Jovan Vavic. Maybe the players deserve it but the school and the coach DO NOT.


This is what is known as a fun exercise. When Jeff is done with his thoughtful list, you can submit your top 10. Sound good?

jeff
Posts: 1055
Joined: Sat May 31, 2014 6:27 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: I am a fan.

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby jeff » Wed Apr 15, 2020 3:04 pm

Next up on my Top 10 list, Team No. 7.

Team No. 7: Cal, 1973

Cal’s 1973 team went (25-1), winning the school’s first NCAA championship, the first of three in a row, and the first of Cal’s 14 NCAA championships (no other school has won more than 11). Cal’s only loss in 1973 was by one goal to USC in USC’s shallow-end pool. The 1973 NCAA tournament was played at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach. Cal beat New Mexico 8-1 in the first round (how many people remember that New Mexico once had a water polo team?), UCLA 4-2 in the semifinals, and U.C. Irvine 8-4 in the finals. The NCAA website does not list all of the players who made the All-Tournament team in 1973, it does not show which player (if any) was named the tournament’s “Most Outstanding Player,” and it does not show how many people attended the championship game. The NCAA placed Cal on probation in 1971 and 1972 because of violations committed by Cal’s football team. Because Cal was ineligible to participate in the NCAA water polo tournaments in 1971 and 1972, Cal coach Pete Cutino decided to redshirt about half of his team in 1971 and the other half in 1972. Cal finished 16-7 in 1972. Cal won its second NCAA championship in 1974, beating U.C. Irvine 7-6 in the finals and finishing 25-2. Cal won its third straight NCAA championship in 1975, beating U.C. Irvine 9-8 in the finals and finishing 22-6. For the three-year period from 1973 through 1975, Cal was 72-9. I selected Cal’s 1973 team for my Top 10 list over Cal’s 1974 and 1975 teams because Hall of Famer and Olympian Peter Schnugg played for Cal in 1973, but not in 1974 or 1975.

I won’t attempt to do it here, but someone should write a book about Cal’s legendary coach Pete Cutino. Cutino was born in Monterey, California. His father was a fisherman. Cutino was well liked by almost everyone, including opposing coaches. One could easily picture Cutino as one of Doc’s friends in Cannery Row, John Steinbeck’s novel about the Monterey Peninsula. As a water polo coach, Cutino was a larger-than-life figure, constantly roaming the pool deck, and baiting the officials. He believed in the value of hard work and sacrifice. Hall of Famer Kirk Everist has been quoted as saying this about Cutino, “He taught us that anything worth accomplishing would not come without discomfort. And he was always there to administer the discomfort.” Cutino had a great sense of humor and was known to exhibit it even during games. For example, Everist tells this story about Cutino: “My freshman year, we were playing UCLA at home and I got into the game and had the worst minute-and-a-half span possible. I missed a shot, got kicked out, got scored on—just a train wreck. Pete called a timeout and walked down the pool deck. He looked up into the stands in my mom and dad’s direction and yelled, ‘it has to be hereditary.’”

Cutino played water polo and was on the swim team at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He became the head coach of the Cal water polo and swim teams in 1963. He held both positions until 1974. Cutino coached the Cal water polo team until 1988. He coached seven Olympians and seven members of the Water Polo Hall of Fame. During his 26-year tenure as the water polo coach, Cutino’s teams went 519-172-10. His teams were 65-54 during the pre-NCAA years from 1963 through 1968. For the 20-year period from 1969-1988, his teams were 454-118-10, won eight NCAA championships, and finished second four times. For the 20-year period from 1973 through 1992 (Cutino's protégé, Steve Heaston, coached the Cal team from 1989 through 1998) Cal won 11 NCAA championships, including seven during the ten-year period from 1983 through 1992. During the 11-year period from 1983 through 1993, a Cal player was named the ACWPC’s player-of-the-year or co-player-of-the-year eight times. In two of those years, Cal players shared the player-of-the-year award. It seems safe to say that no school will ever match what Cal did for the period from 1973 through 1992.

Cutino was named the NCAA coach-of-the-year four times (he should have won the award several more times). He was the coach of the senior national team from 1972 to 1976. Cutino has been criticized for the American team’s performance in the 1975 Pan American Games, which were held in Mexico City. We needed to beat Mexico in the finals to qualify for the 1976 Olympics, but lost by one goal. (The American team missed two penalty shots during the game. On one of the penalty shots, the crowd was reportedly so loud that the American player didn’t hear the whistle and wasn’t able to attempt a shot in the time allotted to do so.) Some people have suggested that Cutino selected too many Cal players for the team that represented the United States in the 1975 Pan American games, and that he should have selected more players with international experience. Of the 11 players Cutino selected for the team that represented the United States, five were from Cal (Peter Schnugg, Jon Svendsen, Tom Belfanti, Peter Asch, and Mike Loughlin), three were from UCLA (Paul Becskehazy, Jim Ferguson, and Eric Lindroth), two were from U.C. Irvine (Goalie Guy Antley and Jim Kruse), and one was from San Jose State (Goalie Steve Hamann). I think it’s fair to question three of Cutino’s selections (Belfanti, Loughlin, and Antley). Hamann, a member of the Hall of Fame and the 1980 Olympic team, was generally thought to be the best goalie of his era. Antley was an excellent goalie, but some people were surprised that Cutino selected Antley over UCLA’s Kevin Craig. Asch was a member of the 1972 Olympic team and is in the Hall of Fame, Schnugg was a member of the 1980 Olympic team and is in the Hall of Fame, and Svendsen was a member of the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams and is in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Cutino for selecting Asch, Schnugg, and Svendsen to be on the 1975 Pan American team. Some have suggested that Cutino should have selected Cal’s Barry Weitzenberg, UCLA’s Stan Cole, and/or UCLA’s Bruce Bradley for the 1975 team. Weitzenberg was Cutino’s first great player at Cal. He was a member of the 1968 and 1972 Olympic teams and is a member of the Hall of Fame. I’m assuming, but have not confirmed, that Weitzenberg chose not to be on the 1975 Pan American team. I don’t know whether Cole (a member of the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic teams and a member of the Hall of Fame) and Bradley (a member of the 1968 and 1972 Olympic teams and a member of the Hall of Fame) chose not to be on the 1975 team.

Cutino was known for his large recruiting classes at Cal. It was not uncommon for his teams to have “C” and “D” teams. In Cutino’s words, “the cream rises to the top.” One sometimes hears parents and players suggest that, as part of a player's recruitment process, one coach or another makes unfulfilled promises about playing time. That wasn’t Cutino’s practice. Consider Kirk Everist's description of his recruiting process:

"I grew up in Orinda and Miramonte High School had a long history of sending players to Cal. I also played in the summers for [the] Concord Water Polo [Club,] which was run by Coach Cutino and Coach Heaston. So, Cal was always at the top of my list. At the end of the day, I think it was the way I was recruited that sealed the deal for me. Cal was the last school I visited and every other school spent a great deal of time telling me how much I would impact their team and the great things they were going to do. When I visited Cal, Pete sat me down and said, 'Kirk, we’d really like you to come to Cal, but you must understand, I don’t know if you will ever play for me.'”

Cutino was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1999, the Olympic Club established the “Cutino Award” in recognition of Cutino’s tremendous accomplishments and his contributions to the sport. The “Cutino Award,” which is given each year to the top male and female collegiate player, is college water polo’s most prestigious award. Cutino died at age 71 in 2004. He will be remembered as one of America’s two or three greatest collegiate coaches.

Peter Schnugg was the NCAA player-of-the-year in 1973. Eight of his 1973 teammates were All Americans, including Jon Svendsen, Tom Belfanti, and goalie Dean Crane. In addition to being the player-of-the-year in 1973, Schnugg was a 2x All American, a member of the senior national team for about seven years, and a member of the 1980 Olympic team (the boycott year). If the United States had qualified for the 1976 Olympics, Schnugg would have been one of the 11 members of the team. Schnugg was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1987. Schnugg’s niece, Maggie Steffens, is one of America’s greatest female players and will almost certainly be inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame after her playing days are over. Cutino recruited Schnugg to be on the Cal swim team because he knew Schnugg also wanted to play water polo. As a swimmer, Schnugg was a 2x All American. He was the 1973 Pac 10 champion in the 100-free with a time of 47.0 and swam the anchor leg on the Cal 400-free relay team that won the 1973 Pac 10 title with a time of 3:06.9.

Jon Svendsen was a 3x NCAA champion, a 3x All American, the 1975 NCAA player-of-the year, a member of the senior national team for about 12 years, and a member of the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams. If the United States had qualified for the 1976 Olympics, Svendsen would have been one of the 11 members of the team. Svendsen was an outstanding two-way player. Considering his speed, ability to accelerate quickly, strength, toughness, and ferocity, I think Svendsen is one of America’s three best 2M defenders. He was inducted into the Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1989. As a swimmer, Svendsen was a 2x All American and swam the first leg on the Cal 400-free relay team that won the 1973 Pac 10 title with a time of 3:06.9.

Tom Belfanti was a 3x NCAA champion and a 3x All American. If the United States had qualified for the 1976 Olympics, Belfanti would have been one of the 11 members of the team. He was on Cal’s swim team for two years.

Cal 8, UCI 7. In a hypothetical matchup between my No. 7 and 8 teams, a good case can be made for either team. If our matchup were a seven-game series, I think one team would win four games and the other team would win three games. UCI’s 1982 team was undefeated, had three 1st team All Americans, the ACWPC player-of-the-year, three Olympians, two Hall-of-Fame players, and a Hall-of-Fame coach. Cal’s only loss in 1973 was by one goal to USC in USC’s shallow-end pool. Cal’s 1973 team had nine All Americans, the NCAA player-of-the-year, two Olympians, two Hall-of-Fame players, and a Hall-of-Fame coach. If we were to select a starting lineup comprised of players from UCI’s 1982 team and Cal’s 1973 team, I think UCI would have four starters (Goalie John O’Brien, Peter Campbell, John Campbell, and John Vargas) and Cal would have three starters (Peter Schnugg, Jon Svendsen, and Tom Belfanti). Like most of Cutino’s teams, Cal’s 1973 team had excellent depth and Cal’s 1973 team probably had more good players than UCI’s 1982 team. The 1973-75 Cal teams were not as big and physical as Cutino’s best teams in later years. In our hypothetical matchup, UCI had the bigger, more physical team and the better centers. However, Cal’s team was faster and more mobile, with two All American swimmers and three others players who had been or were on Cal’s swim team. In our matchup, Ted Newland would do whatever he could to slow down and interrupt Cal’s counterattack and motion offense. He would make Svendsen work hard on both ends of the pool and hope he got into foul trouble. Watching the matchup between Svendsen on defense and the Campbell brothers on offense would have been worth the price of admission. The outcome of the Cal/UCI game would turn, in no small part, on the officiating. The advantage would go to UCI if the officials allowed a lot of grabbing and holding on the perimeter and called a lot of fouls on Svendsen as he battled the Campbell brothers. Playing out the game in my mind, I think UCI would take a one-goal lead at half-time. Cal’s depth, speed, relentless counterattacks, motion offense, and pressure defense would catch up to UCI late in the game and Cal would win by one goal on a great play by Schnugg or Svendsen. In reaching the conclusion that Cal’s 1973 team was slightly better than UCI’s 1982 team, I noted that Cal won three NCAA championships from 1973 through 1975 and went 72-9 and that UCI lost 10 games in 1981 and 10 games in 1983.

Just for the heck of it: This week, we have two questions. First, we test the depth of the knowledge of our Bruce Springsteen fans. One point to the first person who tells us (without looking it up) the name of the musician who plays the haunting trumpet line in “Meeting Across the River.”

Second, one point to the first person (feel free to use the Internet for this question) to list a 200 or 400-free relay team comprised of very good to great collegiate water polo players that could beat the Cal relay team shown below. You aren’t limited to one college water polo program. Feel free to choose players from as many programs as you want.

First leg: Peter Schnugg (Miramonte). His water polo and swimming accomplishments are noted above.

Second leg: Jon Svendsen (Miramonte). His water polo and swimming accomplishments are noted above.

Third leg: Alan Gresham (El Dorado Hills). As a water polo player, Gresham was a 2x NCAA champion, 3x All American, ACWPC player-of-the-year in 1983 (he shared the 1983 award with his teammate, Peter Cutino, Jr.), and player-of-the-year in 1984 (he shared the 1984 award with Pepperdine’s Mike Grier). If we were selecting a team of great collegiate water polo players who never played in the Olympics, Gresham would be a starter. As a swimmer, Gresham was a 2x All American and was the 1984 Pac 10 champion in the 50-free with a time of 20.15. Imagine swimming a 20.15 50-free in 1984 and being more than a half of a second slower than one of your water polo teammates.

Anchor leg: Matt Biondi (Campolindo). As a water polo player, Biondi was a 2x NCAA champion and a 4x All American. As a swimmer, Biondi was a 4x All American and 3x Olympian. Biondi won seven Olympic gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze medal. At one time or another, he held 12 world records.

Note: DavisWP is the leader after the first three rounds of my contest with two points. DavisWP knew that the lyrics I quoted in my last posting are from Springsteen’s iconic song, “Born to Run,” and that “Wendy” is the name of the woman featured prominently in the song. Tepcanman and kersting are tied for second with one point.

Next up, in a few days, Team No. 6.

User avatar
Polodad
Posts: 476
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:44 pm
Location: Northern California

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby Polodad » Wed Apr 15, 2020 4:44 pm

Thanks for the Cutino write-up. He remains a legend. I had the pleasure of meeting him in my living room in the late '80's. He commanded the room, leaving little oxygen for the rest of us.

tepcanman
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:30 pm

Re: Top 10 Men's Teams of the NCAA Era

Postby tepcanman » Wed Apr 15, 2020 10:21 pm

Relay: Pablo Morales, Craig Wilson, Johnny Hooper, Tim Shaw

Return to “Mens Varsity Water Polo”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests