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Bruins Basketball Past

Some say UCLA greatness is in its past. Wrong, UCLA will always be great in part because of its past.


While there was news about the current team recently, yesterday UCLA's past in basketball also came in the news. And I felt it is important to write about this in part in response to this comment. There is a lot wrong with the comment IMO but I will focus on Clay saying "i think the alford hate has more to do with not wanting to come to terms that UCLA isnt a top program in basketball anymore" he then cites Kentucky. By coincidence, I came across this tidbit in the "UK Basketball notebook" yesterday:

In his first book, which is set for release on Sept. 30, historian John Matthew Smith writes about what his publisher calls "the most significant college basketball program."

Kentucky? Uh, no. The Sons of Westwood chronicles the UCLA dynasty period from 1964 until 1975 when the Bruins won 10 national championships.

That supernova of achievement obscures anything done before or since by the usual suspects in college basketball's pantheon. Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Indiana and Kansas must cede center stage. But UCLA has receded in recent decades. So is UCLA really the most significant college basketball program?

"Without question," said Smith, who teaches American history at Georgia Tech. "Maybe some Kentucky fans would disagree with me. UCLA ushered college basketball into the modern age."

UCLA is still special in college basketball and always will be despite the doubters and the efforts of morons like Dan Guerrero to destroy it. According to the article, the book makes the point that UCLA Basketball was not just significant for how it revolutionized the sport but even for its cultural impact.

While guys like Class of 66 and Fox 71 can comment on more detail it is fascinating to think about the success of Wooden, the straight laced Midwesterner, in the 60s and early 70s. Smith cites Wooden as bringing order to the "cultural chaos."

Getting off track a bit here, can you imagine how Bill Walton or Sidney Wicks would have behaved under Howland? While it is easy to say that Wooden never would have had a Reeves Nelson, I think that is missing the point. I think Wooden could have fixed a guy like Reeves.

Of course that brings me to the next story of basketball past this week Darren "three final fours" Collison. Collison was interviewed at length by Jack Wang. Collison predictably defends Ben Howland. While I know others disagree, Collison staying was part because he wanted to stay with UCLA and Howland. (Howland did really improve Collison. Collison his freshman year was a phenomenal speedster athlete who shot 40% from the field and 32% from three. Howland helped improve him to the point that he shot 50% and 40% by his senior year.) Collison says of Howland:

I talked to him. I had a chance to chat it up with him a little bit. We kind of just talked about our experience together. We were very, very optimistic that he'll get a job again. I know he's in Santa Barbara chillin' right now, waiting for a new coaching gig.

(He'll take a year off,) I think that's what it is. Coaching at UCLA is a lot of work. You've got to know what you're doing. I think he handled that pressure over the course of the year, the least several years. I thought he did a great job. Especially players that left, he didn't expect them to leave but they did. He's had some success with pressure, but I think he handled it well. But I think he definitely needs a break.

Enough on Howland, what does Collison think of Alford? It is also interesting what Collison says on Alford, "a defensive" coach. Remember why Guerrero said he hired him, "up tempo" was it. Sigh. Even if Alford brings home banner 12 it will not likely be because of the reason Guerrero hired him. .

I didn't know too much about him to be honest. But I'm hearing a lot of good things about him. I'm hearing he's a defensive coach, which is something we do need. That's what Coach Howland did bring to the table. Any time we have a new coach that's from a winning organization in New Mexico - they did a good job despite being knocked out early - he's had some success. I think he's definitely a worthy candidate of handling the pressure at UCLA. I'm definitely happy for him. I want to see what he brings to the table. I'm actually going (to UCLA) right now to do a workout, but I haven't talked to him personally.

Glad you are such a good Bruin DC. Of course it is not hard to guess his favorite memory but is still fun to read it again:

I think my best memory there would have to be against Gonzaga (in the 2006 Sweet Sixteen). I think we were down 20 that game. [The Bruins trailed by 17 in the first half, and by nine with just over three minutes left.] I'm exactly sure. The game seemed out of reach. We weren't going to come back. We were getting ready for the summer. We managed to turn things around it and make it one of the best games in college basketball. We happened to make it all the way to the Final Four, just from that one experience.

Which brings us to the Chapter on UCLA Basketball's past I wish we could close, Shabazz Muhammad. Extreme UCLA hater Doug Gottlieb goes after Shabazz. Shabazz goes after Howland a bit. But in the end, I will say it again, kids don't let your parents be Trogans. But even after all Shabazz went through he says:

I really enjoyed playing there[UCLA].

Even though Chanti Dan is not and the last few years have not been, UCLA is still great. Go Bruins!