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Wooden's Program

Coach Howland earns the highest honor possible in the game of college basketball. Bill Dwyre from the LA Times (finally coming up with a money article on our Bruins) reports on Howland receiving the golden seal of approval:

Ben Howland can win the NCAA title this Monday in Atlanta. He is well aware of that, as is all of college basketball.

What he isn't aware of is that he has already won a basketball coaches' lottery, something priceless. It comes in the form of a quote, uttered Sunday night by college basketball's greatest coach ever.

"I don't think my teams played as good a defense as Ben's teams," John Wooden said.

Wooden is 96 and exaggerates now as much as he ever did. Which is never. He has no hidden agendas. He loves his Bruins but can still look at them objectively, as he looks at all of life. He still watches games, either in person or on TV, like a biology teacher with a frog. Others see, Wooden dissects.

Wooden coached UCLA to 10 NCAA titles, and he says Howland's teams play better defense. Read it again. Let it sink in. You hear something like that from Dick Vitale, you turn the volume down. From Wooden, spoken softly and presented matter-of-factly, it is a wow.
Wow indeed. Coach didn’t stop there. In addition to praising the Bruin defense, Coach also had this observations concerning the "pace" of Ben Ball:
Wooden says he likes the Bruins' game pace. One of his tenets is to be quick but don't hurry.

"We've been behind in a number of games this year," he said, "but I've been liking a lot how we never hurried."

He said he saw the opposite in the Bruins' regional game against Kansas and that he was surprised how the Jayhawks, as good a team as they were, hurried too much and got a bit out of control.

"I call that activity without achievement," Wooden said.
Talk about the golden seal of approval. So the next time you hear morons blabbering on ESPN or on any other outlets in both the traditional and new media about the style of basketball UCLA plays under Coach Howland, just remember those words from the greatest to ever coach this game. Make sure to read the whole piece from Dwyre. It includes a number of other astute observations from the Coach on our Bruins and today’s game in general.

Coach Wooden is not going to make it to Atlanta. However, he is not going to miss out on watching our Ben Ball warriors. Painter from the Daily News reports on Coach’s itinerary this upcoming week which includes watching his beloved Bruins with his former players.

Speaking of Wooden’s program, Daily News has a profile on the only other UCLA head coach with a championship banner. Billy Witz has an article on Coach Harrick. The relevant note here is how Coach Howland has welcome back Coach Harrick into the Bruin family:
UCLA coach Ben Howland has welcomed Harrick back to the school, inviting him to a banquet at the Final Four last year. He also spoke at a coaches' clinic last spring with Howland, Bob Knight, and Bill Self, among others.

"It means a lot to me," said Harrick, who still wears one of his two UCLA championship rings. "When he got the job, he said, `I want to talk to you,' so we went out to dinner in Beverly Hills and we spent six hours talking about everything. I'm really happy for Ben. I hope he wins a national championship, I really do."
I was a student while Harrick was leading us to banner number 11. While I never felt as strongly about Coach Harrick as I do about Coach Howland, I always appreciated how he had restored the program. I think UCLA did the right thing wrt to Harrick (which is a remarkable contrast in comparison to how the morally corrupt losers from South Central are coddling Pom Pom). However, to me it appears Harrick has paid his due. And as long as Coach Howland has welcomed him back the program, I have no problem with Coach Harrick being part of the Bruin family.

Back to the present day of Wooden’s program. The other big news from yesterday was AA earning the award of first team AP All American. Here are the reports from the Daily News and the LA Times. AA as usual is being humble, giving credit to his team-mates, and more importantly keeping his focus on Florida:
So while Afflalo and UCLA Coach Ben Howland were available Monday to talk about the junior guard's latest award, the conversation quickly pointed toward Florida. A year ago, the Gators beat the Bruins, 73-57, in the national title game.

"We just weren't rotating quickly enough," Afflalo said. "We have to keep our same idea of doubling the post players, but Florida has two guys who require a lot of attention," he added in reference to Joakim Noah and Al Horford. "So we have to do a better job of being more focused on that end of the floor."

Afflalo said the loss to Florida a year ago was "horrible."

"Not the game itself," he added, "but the thought of losing. Winners who do things special are never forgotten and to come in second best is not enough. To come in second best last year was very painful."

Howland said watching tape of last year's game has not been easy. "We were dominated," he said. "It's hard to watch because we were not very good and they were very good."

If UCLA's motivation to beat Florida this year is to avoid the pain of losing, Afflalo says Florida players must have a different view.
AA and Coach Howland went on to show the due respect to the Gators for getting back to the Final-4 despite having a bulls eye on their back.

On the other end of the spectrum (if Plashcke’s column is to be taken seriously) Florida is not all that worried about UCLA. They certainly don’t care about showing any respect whatsoever to what Wooden’s legacy means at UCLA. From Plaschke:
"I don't care about UCLA's tradition," said Walter Hodge, a backup guard on the Florida basketball team. "I don't know anything about it."

He was asked if he had heard of a coach named John Wooden.

"I don't know, and I don't care," he said.

He paused.

"Is he that old dude?"
Well there is always something called karma. It has a way of working things out. It may not be a bad idea to clip the Plaschke article and give it to AA. He after all came to UCLA to reestablish Wooden’s program.

I wish we could play this game tonight.