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Wooden’s Life Lessons Will Live on

Three years ago during this site’s infancy, the announcement was made that UCLA would be renovating Pauley Pavilion with the intention of having it ready for the 2010 season. The goal was to dedicate the restoration of Pauley to Coach John Wooden on October 14th, 2010 — the day he would turn 100 years old. Unfortunately Wooden died on Friday evening, June 4th, four months prior to his 100th birthday. Though we’re saddened that Wooden died, the lessons he taught, the messages he delivered, the way he lived his life, and everything positive for which he stood still lives on.

At a time when people are concerned with being the star of the show, the center of attention, and building their own brands, Wooden preached teamwork, cooperation and togetherness. He famously said that “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” Can you imagine Hanley Ramirez hearing this from Wooden the day after he loafed to a ball in left field and rationalized it by saying the other guys on the team can’t play as well as he can?

In a 12-year span, Wooden’s teams won 10 national championships and often played at their highest possible level, winning 88 straight games at one point. No matter how good your team is, winning when you have a target on your back and you’re taking everyone’s best shot is never easy. When you win 88 straight games and seven straight national titles, you’re not having off days and unfocused moments. Maybe his teams did not have those let downs because Wooden believed that “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Wooden, his players, and his teams, didn’t just settle for beating opponents or winning conference titles — they wanted to be as good as they were capable of being.

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John Wooden Has Not Died But He is in the Hospital

Reports are surfacing that John Wooden, the most successful men’s college basketball coach of all-time, has been hospitalized and is “gravely” ill.  According to a report by CBS 2 in Los Angeles, Wooden “hasn’t eaten in the last couple days and is very ill.”  Some of the postings on Scout.com’s Bruin Report Online forum seemed to suggest that the former UCLA coach had passed away, but UCLA’s Athletic Department says that any reports of him having died are false.

While Wooden appears to be ill and in the hospital, rumors that he has died are inaccurate. Wooden is 99 years old.

UPDATE: The Washington Post is the latest organization to be incorrect with their reporting:

Sources:
John Wooden In Hospital At UCLA Medical Center [CBS 2 Los Angeles]

Josh Pastner Still Recruiting from the Delivery Room

If you ever wonder how a guy becomes a head coach of a good basketball program like Memphis at the age of 31, Josh Pastner has the answer. Pastner’s recruiting efforts and excellent work ethic have helped him jump to the front of the crowded coaching field. His dedication was on display last week when his wife was giving birth to their first child. As explained by an article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal via Sports by Brooks Live, Pastner was still recruiting while in the delivery room:

Pastner did take his cell phone into the delivery room. But he had it on vibrate. That’s progress, right?

“I had to keep in touch,” he said.

OK, but did you call any recruits?

“I did,” he said.

So much for progress.

“I also told them where I was calling from,” he said.

Some people might view that as dedication whereas others might see it as sickening. That’s the kind of work ethic that gives guys like Urban Meyer serious health problems. The Memphis people have to be proud of this story, you just hope that Pastner doesn’t wear himself out. If there’s ever an occasion to take a few moments off, that probably was it.

Sources:
Diaper dandy changes Pastner lineup [Memphis Commercial Appeal]
SbB Live

Source: USC May Challenge NCAA’s Ability to Sanction Them

It’s been over three months since the NCAA Infractions Committee met with USC officials for a hearing. The typical lapse between an infractions hearing and the sanctions handed down by the NCAA is six to 10 weeks, but this case has taken much longer. The LA Times suggests the long wait is due to logistics and there’s no question the NCAA wants to get it right. Why might they be taking extra time to ensure their sanctions are well reasoned? They could be facing an unprecedented legal response from USC in appeals if the penalties are too harsh.

Even though the Trojans are optimistic as they await word from the NCAA, I’m told they have a backup plan in case things don’t work out as well as hoped. Sources close to the USC athletic program and familiar with the legal proceedings say the school’s attorneys are planning to challenge the NCAA’s ability to sanction them. The source noted that USC has the legal and financial resources to put up this type of “groundbreaking” effort.

The obvious question at this point is: under what grounds could USC possibly challenge the NCAA’s sovereignty in the matter? It’s possible that USC would file their appeal under the umbrella of the public policy doctrine, if not something else. Should USC appeal the sanctions handed down by the NCAA under these grounds, they wouldn’t be the only ones challenging the NCAA’s power; Ed O’Bannon is leading a class-action suit against the NCAA regarding the use of former athletes images and likenesses for profit.

Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown Praise Ben Howland, UCLA Program

While watching the fourth quarter of the Hawks/Bucks closeout Game 7 on ABC, I couldn’t help but be pleased when I heard the national broadcast team of Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown speak so glowingly about the UCLA basketball program. Bucks second year forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had tipped a ball out of bounds while going for an offensive rebound when Tirico started talking about him and the UCLA program. After the ensuing Hawks’ offensive possession, Mbah a Moute grabbed the defensive rebound, ran the floor, and was fouled going up for a layup. While he was at the free throw line, Tirico took the time to continue his praise of UCLA and the volume of quality NBA players they’ve produced recently under coach Ben Howland. Former coach and current analyst Hubie Brown also joined in on the action. Here’s how their exchange went:

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Calipari’s Boys Not Very Bright

John Calipari managed to resurrect some of the winning ways Kentucky has come to be known for when he came to the Wildcats from Memphis.  One thing he doesn’t seem to have done is stimulate his players to perform as well in the classroom as they did on the court.  According to KentuckySports.com — via Sports By Brooks live — his players posted a GPA of 2.025, the lowest of the 20 University of Kentucky athletic teams.  It is also the lowest for the Kentucky men’s team since 2002 and worst of the nine SEC schools that were willing to provide their team GPAs to the public.

When taking into account the Derrick Rose SAT cheating incident at Memphis, Calipari doesn’t exactly have a clean track record regarding academic issues and his players.  While it should be noted that freshman-phenom John Wall had all As and Bs during the fall semester — as Calipari pointed out in December — the fact that Kentucky had so many one-and-done freshmen almost certainly contributed to the low team GPA.  Four of the five Wildcats who entered the NBA draft were freshmen and two players posted GPAs below the minimum requirement for eligibility, which is 1.8.  However, that minimum requirement only comes into play at the start of an athlete’s second year, so it’s safe to assume if those two were eligible to play, they were first year players.

Considering the four freshmen who declared were probably more concerned with their NBA futures than their midterms, they were probably about as bored in the classroom as Calipari is with the press conference in the picture above.  Am I saying this is all a huge deal for the Wildcats men’s basketball program?  Hardly, as I’m sure classroom performance is an issue with plenty of major athletic programs.  However, given some of the issues Calipari has had with these things in the past, it isn’t exactly the best reflection on him as a coach.

Sources:
SbB Live
Calipari’s squad posts worst grades of UK teams [KentuckySports.com]

NCAA Selection Committee Handed Duke the Championship

I mean that in the most literal sense possible. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero doubles as the NCAA Selection Committee Chairman and he was the one who handed Duke and their coach Mike Krzyzewski the championship trophy for winning the NCAA tournament. See:

As commenter J.S. has pointed out, the NCAA tournament doesn’t necessarily yield the best team in the country but rather the tournament champion. I still believe Kansas and Kentucky were the two top teams in the country and that they would have met in a championship had there been a double-elimination format or seven game series. Both those teams made early exits from the tourney and now we recognize Duke as the national champion for the fourth time. Moreover, coach Mike Krzyzewski is now in a class with Adolph Rupp and John Wooden as the only coaches with more than three titles (Wooden has 10, Rupp four).

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