Halfway through the spring practice season here, I've found something very interesting. It's being able to see how Mora has started to emulate and incorporate the style of John Wooden into his coaching philosophy. I can tell by seeing past interviews, following his twitter account (he posted a picture of Coach's statue just last week, HT to freesia, talking about UCLA's standard) that he truly appreciates Coach not only for what he was able to do in his realm of sport, but how he was able to transform high school boys into respectable young men that knew how to WIN.
The most important part about it all was that Coach never said that "W" word (regardless of how important it is to all of us at BN) but rather focused on the players themselves and playing to the height of their potential. Mora's last comment in the last video here rings of that ideal - "don't play to your opponent's level, play to the UCLA standard". Devin Fuller just the other day quoted on his twitter the following:
Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability— Devin Fuller (@Devin7Fuller) April 12, 2013
It's tangible the effect Coach Mora has on our players and the way in which they handle themselves, and I genuinely appreciate how he has taken notes from the best and applied it to his own. It makes me all the more excited to have a coach follow this mentality, and to see how it will affect the play of our football team only makes it more exciting.
In contrast, Howland would consistently praise Wooden, his ethics, his vision, etc. but then in every single post-game interview talk about how the singular focus was to "just win the next game". As much as it sounds like a typical coaching statement to make, and one that most can agree with, it always rubbed me the wrong way. He didn't truly understand the philosophy Coach created, and I knew then that he probably couldn't teach it either. The ability to motivate is the essence of the great John Wooden, and I think Mora has the complete buy-in of every guy on our roster. It makes me giddy.
I understand the wariness of some of the old-timers to Mora's success, and that it may be an early grace period that may not last. Regardless of what happens I truly like the guy for who he is and how he runs our program, and I don't think last year was a fluke. I simply can't see us losing games and taking it on our back like in the previous regime. Tie that to his response to one of my favorite questions asked below, and...can you just wake me up when it's August already?