Of all the teams you could guess that would hand UNLV their only loss in a 55-game stretch that included the 1990 national title, UCSB likely wouldn't be at the top of the list. But the Gauchos were a more than worthy competitor thanks in large part to Carrick Dehart, who to this day remains one of the best players in school history. During DeHart's time at UCSB the Gauchos made two NCAA Tournament appearances (beating Houston in 1990) and an NIT appearance in between. CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with DeHart discussing his career at UCSB, that 78-70 win over UNLV and what he's up to today.
Jon Teitel: In 1987 you were named Big West Freshman of the Year and the following three seasons you were named All-Big West. How were you able to come in and contribute as a freshman, and how were you able to continue to dominate throughout the rest of your college career?
Carrick DeHart: I had been playing basketball at a very high level with great expectations since the 8th grade with the Westside Blazers (now the Blazers Safe Haven) under the coaching of Bennie Davenport. College was just a continuation of this process. The work habits and dedication were already in place, but I had great teammates and a coaching staff that believed in me.
JT: What are your memories of the 1988 NCAA Tournament (DeHart scored 18 points in a ten-point loss to Maryland after your team shot 69% from the field in the 1st half)?
CD: That is the one that slipped away. We were giant killers and that night we tried to take the giant hostage!!!! I remember not having the depth and physicality to compete with the Maryland players. You have to realize that UCSB had no conditioning program or weight facility on campus at that time, so we were at a huge disadvantage and Maryland came back in the second half and outplayed us.
JT: What are your memories of the 1989 NIT (eight-point loss to Wichita State)?
CD: It was a homecoming for me. I am from Wichita, grew up down the street from the arena, and always wanted to be a Wheat Shocker. We were short-handed, as our muscle guy Mike Doyle did not make the trip, and it was a big kick in the morale for us. I did get to play in front of my grandparents and immediate family, and they had all of my baby pictures on the 10PM news. My uncle Arthur DeHart (a prominent doctor in the city) even had our squad over for dinner!
JT: In 1990 you severely sprained your ankle the day before a game against top-ranked UNLV, but after tightly taping your ankle with duct tape you scored a game-high 24 points in an eight-point win over the eventual-national champions (UNLV's only loss over a stretch of 55 games). How good was that UNLV team, and how were you able to defeat such a great team after suffering an injury?
CD: That was one of the best teams I have ever faced in any competition. As people and players, we had great respect for UNLV. I had competed against several of them way before college: Greg Anthony, Stacey Augmon, and Jarvis Basnight, just to name a few. As far as my ankle was concerned, it happened during the very last play of practice the night before that game, and I was freaked out. Our trainer Harry Callihan told me that if I believed in him, he would have me ready to defend the fort the next night and we would be victorious. We started treatment from that point right up to game time, and just before tip-off I was able to walk/run; then the Thunderdome took over and the pain went away. It was also Senior Night, and I wanted to go out as a winner. Ever since I elected not to go to Kansas, most people who had supported me during my high school career told me that my team at UCSB would never amount to anything. They said we would never win 20 games in a season, never play on TV, and never make it to the Big Dance. I just wanted to correct that statement, for history's sake!
1990 NCAA Tournament
JT: You scored 11 points and had a school tournament-record six assists in a four-point win over Houston (Carl Herrera had 19 points), the first and only tourney win in school history. What did it mean to your team to get that win, and what was the feeling like in your locker room afterwards?
CD: That game meant that we had arrived. Not only could we win in the Big West and win some non-conference games, but we could perform and win with the entire nation watching. We were also setting the table for future Gaucho teams to reach for the stars. Our locker room was cranked up to 10 after the game, but we had to come back down to earth really quick because we had to face Michigan State next.
JT: You had a team-high 23 points while playing all 40 minutes in a four-point loss to Michigan State (Steve Smith had 21 points). Did you think your team could pull off the upset, and could you tell at that time that Smith was going to become a star?
CD: Did we think we could pull of the upset? Hell yes!!! We were as physical as they were; we just did not get the same respect as they did when it came to our physicality. They went to the line a lot more than we did and were able to score with the clock stopped, while we were in foul trouble and kept searching for combinations that could be effective and help us win the game. I knew that Steve Smith was going to be special. It is funny: I had watched him all year, and was very impressed with versatility and his knowledge of the game. What a player! Quick note: I believe Steve and I were the only two players in double figures that night.
JT: In 1990 you were named All-American. What did it mean to you to win such an outstanding individual honor?
CD: It was quite an honor for me because up until that time I was always considered a sleeper.
JT: You graduated as the leading scorer in school history, a record that stood for 18 years until it was broken by Alex Harris in 2008. Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were?
CD: Not at all. I knew that I could score but I really enjoy winning and will do whatever it takes to win. My role just happened to be shooting and scoring, but it changed throughout my career. During my senior season I played point guard which was quite a transition for me; it was hard to find the appropriate balance between scoring points and managing the team.
JT: In 2009 you coached a California girls All-Star team with Lynette Woodard (the first woman ever to play with the Harlem Globetrotters). Is it harder to coach boys or girls, and what is it like to be on the sideline with a legend like Woodard?
CD: I love coaching. I believe that players are players whether they are young ladies or young men. It is all about the development of the individual. Each gender has its own emotional tendencies, but I feel that both are equally challenging and rewarding. It was quite an honor to coach with Lynette, because we are both from the same hometown and our families are acquainted. When I walk outside of my home in Wichita, I can see the "Lynette Woodard Recreation Center"! Lynette has been an idol of mine for quite some time, and developing a friendship with her has been special.
JT: Your relative Alyssia Brewer plays for Coach Pat Summitt at Tennessee. Do you get to follow Alyssia's career closely, and do you credit at least some of her success to genetics?
CD: Yes. Lyssi is quite a player, and an even better person. I follow all of her games on the TV sports package, and I even watch Coach Summitt's TV show. I am very proud of Lyssi. I credit some of her abilities to genetics, but also to her immediate family that gave her a great work ethic. I also have to credit her in trusting me sight unseen. I never met Lyssi until she came and played for the Nike Storm. Her father Kevin and I grew up together and he asked me to help her with her career, so I introduced her to Nike Storm coach George Quintero (who was also my high school coach), and now she is writing the rest of the story herself.
JT: You currently work as Director of Development for Regional Giving in San Diego and Orange County. How do you like the job, and what do you hope to do in the future?
CD: I love giving back to the university in this capacity. Development is very important for a university's quality of education and mere survival. I would rather be coaching at the Division I level, and I am actively pursuing this possibility. If anyone out there has any leads, I would be a great asset to any program!
Carrick is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in Big West history.
Cal Poly: Mike Wozniak (2000) 1,903 PTS (#2), 308 3PM (#1), 86 FT% (#2)
CSU Fullerton: Leon Wood (1984) 1,876 PTS (#2), 744 AST (#1), 81.1 FT% (#2), All-American
CSU Northridge: Brian Heinle (2001) 1,641 PTS (#1), 785 REB (#2), 290 AST (#5), 76 BLK (#2), 149 3PM (#2), All-American
UC Riverside: Howard Lee (1972) 1,386 PTS (#2), 1,004 REB (#1)
UC Davis: Mark Olson (1976) 1,440 PTS (#4), 869 REB (#2)
Long Beach State: Ed Ratleff (1973) 1,820 PTS (#3), 683 REB (#4), 410 AST (#5), two-time All-American
Pacific: Ron Cornelius (1981) 2,065 PTS (#1), 973 REB (#4), 57 FG% (#3), two-time All-American, conference Player of the Year
UC Irvine: Jerry Green (2002) 1,993 PTS (#1), 162 STL (#1), two-time conference Player of the Year
UCSB: Carrick DeHart (1990) 1,687 PTS (#2), 133 STL (#2), 196 3PM (#2), All-American