The Maryland- UCLA final marked the first time that two traditional men's college basketball powers had made it to the championship game. Immaculata, a small (enrollment 500) Catholic school in Pennsylvania, had dominated the early years of the AIAW tournament, winning three consecutive titles and finishing second two times. When Immaculata finally was toppled, it was by Delta State of Cleveland, Miss. (enrollment 3,200), which went on to win the next three championships. But this year, for the first time, neither Immaculata nor Delta State made it to the finals, and when the AIAW splits into a Division I, II and III setup similar to the NCAA's for the 1979-'80 season there is a good chance that one or both of those powerhouses will become second-class citizens in a sport they helped put on the map.
Perhaps the best indication of how far women's basketball had come when it "arrived" at Pauley last week was that four years ago Wayland Baptist was the only school in the tournament that gave scholarships. This year Montclair State was the only school that did not.
What Montclair was happy to offer, however, was 5'10" Carol (The Blaze) Blazejowski, the most relentlessly exciting performer in the history of women's basketball. The Blaze averaged 38.5 points this season before finishing her career with 40 points over Meyers' head in the Squaws' 85-77 loss to UCLA on Thursday and 41 more in a 90-88 overtime defeat of Wayland Baptist in the consolation game Saturday night. That brought her career total to 3,199 points, only 468 behind Pete Maravich's collegiate record of 3,667.
Whenever a UCLA team wins a national championship strange things seem to happen. Any minute now, for example, we can expect to hear that Anita Ortega, the Bruins' catalytic guard who scored 23 points in the final, has changed her name to Oregano Abdul-Jamal, or that the bloodthirsty UCLA alumni association has driven Gary Cunningham, the Bruins' men's coach, whose team had a 25-3 record in his first season, to coach the Alabama Vocational & Disc Jockey Training Institute, and that Billie Moore had been installed as the Wizardess of Westwood.
Meanwhile, Ann Meyers is still out there somewhere, signing autographs for dozens of little girls who want to grow up someday to be just like her. Yeah, maybe women's basketball has arrived at that, even if they won't reveal how much the women weigh.