Anyways, join the challenge and get a chance at winning a great piece of Kobe art to hang on your wall. Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like a no lose situation (accept for the part where *you all lose to me). So, get to it guys and gals.
*Note: I am awful at picking college games. You actually have a very good chance of beating me.
Coach John Wooden, who passed away yesterday at the age of 99, was a father, husband, teacher, and coach.
The lessons he left behind will be mined for their wisdom for ages to come.
He is by far the most decorated college coach in the history of the game, but his legacy is not measured by those accolades, but by the impact he has had on players, coaches, and all who encountered him.
What separated him from the ranks of the ordinary can be summed up in his own words.
“Love has dominated my coaching career”
He eschewed more lucrative coaching offers to remain a teacher of young men.
His love of language led him to collect and disperse all manner of sayings and poems that embodied his philosophy on life. He in turn translated that into his coaching philosophy.
“You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
Although his basketball acumen was unparalleled, it was his strong character that left an indelible mark on those who crossed his path.
“They ask my why I teach and I reply, ‘Where could I find more splendid company?’”
But Wooden’s time with the crowd made us all feel blessed to be in his presence.
The gym fell silent as we all bent an ear to grasp at the pearls of wisdom he was dispensing.
He was asked about a pivotal moment in his life, and he immediately began to talk about his “wonderful father”.
It was his father that gave him a small card at age 12 that contained the basic philosophy that has now become The Wooden Pledge and The Pyramid of Success.
One point on the card was “Be true to yourself.”
Thoughts immediately turned to Polonius’ quote from Hamlet, and before we knew it, he was reciting the passage…
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
He was asked how he bridged the gap between his so-called star players and his role players. His answer spoke to his greatest asset as a man, his profound decency.
“I loved them as people, not just as basketball players.”
Coach John Wooden 1910–2010
Coach Wooden is survived by a son, James, of Orange County, Calif.; a daughter, Nancy Wooden, who lives in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley; three grandsons and four granddaughters; and 13 great-grandchildren.
[picappgallerysingle id=”8422103″] Some random thoughts on this Saturday of college hoops…
*Last night’s win against the Jazz was more than just a single win. Why? Because the Spurs showed some of their classic resolve and beat the Magic (Manu torched Orlando for 43 and Duncan added another 23 to take down Orlando – wow). That means that the chase for the second best record in the league and the claim to home court down the road – should there be a rematch of last years’ Finals – just got pushed one more step in the Lakers’ direction. The one game cushion over the Magic going into last night is now two games with only 6 games left to play. The Magic have an easier schedule down the stretch than the Lakers, but I’d rather be the team ahead with so few games left in the season and that’s where the Lakers are.
*Speaking of last night’s game, sure Odom was tremendous and Pau did his all-around thing, but what really caught my eye was Sasha’s beard. Classic. I joked on twitter that instead of saying sorry, Sasha grew a beard and that his beard would look like Deshawn Stevenson’s before he actually saw some game action. It turns out that I was wrong as Sasha got some burn late in the game when the contest was already decided. Why’d he finally get into the game? John Ireland’s twitter feed says it all. Apparently the fans aren’t the only folks that want tacos.
*Enough about the Lakers and the pro game, though. Tonight is where we get one step closer to crowning a college champion as Duke faces off against West Virginia and Michigan State plays Butler. I have no idea who is going to win but I’ll take Duke and Butler to advance just for the slew of stories on the mid-major program vs classic juggernaut Final on Monday. Which probably means that it will be WVU and Michigan St. in the Final. But, who do you guys got? However it plays out, these should be some good games and I’m anxious to watch tonight.
*And speaking of the tournament, the Final Four about to be played also means that we’re going to crown a winner in the FB&G tourney pool very soon. It looks like the letshannondunk bracket will end up on top with How Do I Pick UC Riverside? bracket coming in 2nd place. After everyone’s bracket got busted by the all the upsets (especially the Kansas loss) it figures that the brackets that had Duke and WVU going a long way would be at the top. So, get ready for your T-shirt. I’ll drop an email to the winner sometime after the final game.
Lastly, since I’ve still got a smile on my face after last night’s win, here are the highlights from the game versus the Jazz. Enjoy:
I must admit something right out of the gate – I haven’t been watching too much college hoops this year. I’ve caught the occasional John Wall highlight and I watched some of Evan Turner’s heroics against Michigan, but besides that I have not been on top of it this year. So, I guess that doesn’t bode well for me when picking the games in the Tournament this year. Can you do better than me? Is that even saying much?
Like last year, Forum Blue and Gold is having a Tourney Pool and you can be part of it. You can win one of these nifty FB&G t-shirts and lots of bragging rights.
All you have to do is follow this link and join our group:
Here’s my dilemma: For only the second time ever, my alma mater Cal State Northridge made the tournament. So, I’m obligated to pick them to win a game.
Except, they drew Memphis, a team I want to have going very deep into the tournament. So now, do I pick the Matadors and hope I’m wrong about Memphis, or go with my head and just hope Northridge covers the spread?
This is a year filled with tournament dilemmas.
And we are doing a FB&G pool. Joining is free and the winner gets and FB&G shirt. And bragging rights.
Just follow this link. Group Name: Forum Blue & Gold Group ID#: 54708 Password: smushcalade
The better answer to my dilemma would have been to go to UNC for college….
If the Lakers had their choice of any players in tonightâ€™s game to join the team next year, my two top choices would go to Ohio State players â€” Greg Oden (sorry Drew) and Mike Conley.
But basketball remains a team game, and Florida not only has four starters with NBA talent but they play well as a team. The whole is better than the sum of their parts. They pass well, find the open man and rotate well on defense. They can beat you any number of ways, but it starts with the fact they shoot well â€” 59.1% on two pointers over the course of the season. If Odenâ€™s shot blocking can change that, Ohio State has a chance.
But I donâ€™t think he can, Florida will make the extra pass and find the open man. Which is why Iâ€™ll take the Gators to pull away in the second half and win handily.
But then again, Iâ€™m coming in third in my office pool behind a guy who cares more about any Chelsea midfielder than the entire NCAA field, so take it with a grain of salt.
Why waste time â€” who do you have in your Final Four? I’ve got Florida, Kansas, Georgetown and Texas A&M, with Kansas beating A&M in the finals.
There is no shortage of information on college teams out on the Web, but if you want some of the stats I use here to help with your picks check out Ken Pomoryâ€™s site, which has more quality info than just about anywhere. And, if all you care about is the NBA and youâ€™re watching the NCAA games just as draft scouting, be sure to check out the NBA Fanhouse series College Eye For The NBA Guy where they break down potential draft picks to watch.
As for a few thoughts on the local teamsâ€¦
If you donâ€™t know much about Long Beach State, check out my primer over at LAist. They bring the Phoenix Suns â€œsmall ballâ€ â€” but with a more gambling defense â€” to the college game. They start three guards and the tallest player is 6â€™6â€. They average 68 possessions a game, the 19th fastest pace in the nation (out of 366 teams), with an offensive rating of 109.6 (points per 100 possessions). The guy to watch is Aaron Nixon, he has just about unlimited range, well beyond the NBA three, and he is fearless about shot selection (in both the good and bad way). Plus with five seniors starting and seven in key roles, Long Beach can be dangerous.
Except that they get a bad match up (but a fun one for fans), Tennessee plays almost exactly the same style but do it better. They are 15th in the nation in pace (73 possessions a game) with an offensive rating of 115.1. For fans this will be a fun game to watch, up and down pace and a lot of scoring and steals. Bet the over and enjoy.
For USC, I want to see them match up with Texas in the second round. Nick Young and Kevin Durant could put on quite a show, and that would be a lot of quality athletes on the floor at the same time. Texas will win, but that will be fun.
As for the Bruins, I really like them â€” I just like Kansas better, hence I have UCLA losing in the elite eight. But they play great defense (Laker fans, thatâ€™s what a defensive rotation looks like, in case you were wondering) and any team that does that has a chance. Plus, Collison at the point is a great floor general who gets the ball to the hot hand and to guys in good positions. Iâ€™ll be pulling for them to screw up my pool.
Where Philâ€™s relationship with Michael and Shaq worked because of a strong supporting cast, Philâ€™s relationship with Kobe is now perhaps suffocating a superstar.
Once he forms a relationship, Phil tends to cut off communication between the rest of the coaching staff and the superstar. Itâ€™s Phil and the star, with little outside interference tolerated.
This season for the Lakers is mostly kaput. ITâ€™S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
So Phil needs to lighten up a bit with Kobe. Let him loose to enjoy whatever they can find in this yearâ€™s circumstances.
But Laker fans also have to lighten up. Philâ€™s basic premise, his MO of forming a strong bond with his superstar, is a proven thing.
The Lakers must start again next season, once again bringing along the supporting cast as Kobe matures into the star and leader he can be. When they were healthy and growing dynamically as a team, they earned the fansâ€™ patience and forbearance.
In this case, â€œwait until next seasonâ€ is not a platitude. Itâ€™s a legitimate strategy.
I was a little bit lucky. The year I moved to Long Beach was the year that Long Beach State may have had its best basketball team ever. And, since I didnâ€™t know many people and I had plenty of free nights, I went to a lot of basketball games that year. And that 92-93 team grew on me like few others have.
They were led by Lucious Harris, who not-so-coincidentally gets his number retired by Long Beach State Saturday night.
Most of you probably remember Harris from his recent NBA play, where he was a key guy off the bench for the Nets when they went to the NBA Finals a few years back. I remember Harris as the skinny and lightning quick kid who seemed unstoppable his senior season â€” he averaged 23.1 points per game shooting 60.2% (eFG%) and 41% from beyond the arc.
I talked with his old Long Beach coach this week, Seth Greenberg (now at #16 Virginia Tech) and he said they tried to use Harrisâ€™ quickness off the dribble by setting up a lot of isolation plays for him. But they also ran him off a lot of picks and down screens, trying to get him room for that quick jump-shot release (much like UCLA this year runs screens for Aaron Afflalo). It worked because Harris was such a smart player, even at that young age he seemed able to find the seams and holes in a defense that gave him room to get off shots (a knack he brought to the NBA).
What I remember is you could count on Harris, but it worked because that team had some balance, with Bryon Russell playing the role of the strong guard who got posted up more and used his strength to get off his shots.
What I didnâ€™t know then was how much easier the work ethic of those two, trying to out do one another in practice, made Greenbergâ€™s job easier.
â€œWhen youâ€™re two best players are your best practice players, you can do a lot,â€ Greenberg said,
Lucious Harris saved his best play for the Big West Tournament that season, where he was named the MVP and led the 49ers to the title. It was all good enough to get the 49ers and 11 seed in the NCAA tournament that year, but they faced a strong Illinois team and lost in the first round 75-72.
Harris was the first pick of the second round of the NBA draft that year, taken by the Dallas Mavericks. He played a dozen years in the NBA.
I learned a lot â€” and had a lot of fun â€” watching Lucious Harris and those Seth Greenberg-coached teams. When I saw he was getting his number retired, well, it just reminded my how much fun basketball can be.