Historical Perspective

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

(Forgive the arrogant use of the first-person plural; I just wish to connote the closeness of the fas to the UCLA team.)

If there is any bright side to this humiliating loss, it is that it doesn't come at the end of a season where all hopes are dashed and the interminable 9-10 month wait begins before we have the opportunity to prove ourselves all over again.

Almost exactly 40 years ago yesterday (January 20, 1968) UCLA had a controversial defeat handed to them by Elvin Hayes, Guy Lewis, and the Houston Cougars in the first nationally televised college basketball game (as described in Elvin Hayes' WikiPedia biography):

On January 20, 1968, the Big E and the Houston Cougars faced Lew and the UCLA Bruins in the first-ever nationally televised regular season college basketball game. In front of a record 52,693 fans at the Houston Astrodome, Hayes scored 39 points and had 15 rebounds while limiting Alcindor to just 15 points as Houston beat UCLA 71-69 to snap the Bruins 47-game winning streak in what has been called the "Game of the Century". That game helped earned Hayes The Sporting News College Basketball Player Of The Year. I was at UCLA at the time and had as fraternity brothers varsity basketball players Lee Walczuk and Steve Seibert.

This loss, on a national stage and all, was a supremely bitter pill to swallow; tremendously hurtful to our pride. We had just had a 47-game streak ended and were considered fallible by the MSM, who rejoiced in writing articles about the end of UCLA's dominance. (Little did they know...)

Pestering Steve and Lee with questions about how we would do for the rest of the season revealed nothing. They remained stoic and tight-lipped, both evincing a thousand-yard stare. I am told that the rest of the team behaved similarly as they went about the business of preparing themselves for the real goal of the 1968 season: the NCAA championships. The results, of course, were the banner that year and, along the way, some well-needed retribution:

In the rematch to the "Game of the Century", Hayes would end his college career in the 1968 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. He was held to 10 points, losing to Alcindor and the Bruins 69-101 in the semi final game. The final game was an almost anti-climactic win against the North Carolina Tar Heels 78-55 for the 1968 title.

Contrast that with the loss to David Thompson and Norm Sloan of NC State, 80-77, in the 1974 NCAA semi-final game. Man, that one really stung because UCLA was was up by as much as six points in the second overtime only to lose. It was a frustrating because the meltdown in the final minutes was reminiscent of what transpired yesterday. Had we won, we most surely have beaten Al Maguire's Marquette team for the championship..

..shoulda, coulda, woulda.

We had to wait a whole year for vindication. But UCLA came back the following year and swept the state of Kentucky, winning an incredible 75-74 game against a Gary Crum-coached Louisville team, and beating Kentucky in the final.

These were small speed bumps in Coach's career (arguably the second is more profound that the first) but, over time and with 10 championships, it shows one that you don't take your eyes off the prize. There is no reason why this season shouldn't be the same.

I only hope that there's some serious hurt dished out to these pretenders from Condomland before the season has run its course.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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