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Reminiscing, a question and answer
Malamute, 27 March 2006

-- Color the “Blue” blue for blue-collar D

Outplaying the number-one seed Memphis, UCLA deserves its trip to the final four. Winning the Pac-10 title, along with the tournament at Staples Arena, were crucial to the Bruins’ success; their last seven games were played in Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland, all of them close to home cooking.

The crowd cranked up the decibels at Oakland, a worthy effort by Bruin fans, even by the old redhead, the now-grizzled Bill Walton, who long ago was steeped in the "Pyramid of Success," likely against his will in those days. Like motherhood and Apple Pie, it seemed!

The point is to take advantage of a golden opportunity, as did Ben Howland and our own Lorenzo Romar. If John Wooden is the Wizard of Westwood and Paul Westhead is the Wizard of Westchester (think Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble), then LoRo is the Mage of Montlake, at least in my mind. Westhead sent me a note thanking me for the sobriquet and article, which was certainly gracious of him considering the implications. 

This UCLA team is a bit different than the Wizard’s teams, the ones that wore their opponents down with outside shooting, quickness, the full-court press, man-to-man defense, and solid rebounding. They were all taught to shoot free throws, a fundamental part of the game. After all, it’s called the charity line.

Walton, Alcindor, (Dick) Engberg, finesse and “Rain drops keep falling on my head” blew the roof off of Pauley in those days, the way that Keith Jackson, Bill O’Mara, Bill Muncey, Stan Sayers and a group of creative people captured the Emerald City.

The Wooden teams changed the NCAA version of the game and the way its officiated, even taking the slam dunk out of basketball for a period of time -- thanks to the east-coast mafia. “Lewis’s” back-handed dunk was a stab in the heart to them. (Wooden called Alcindor a fatherly "Lewis," in those days).

The ugly look is for a Big Ten team. Just the same an ugly win is a win. The NCAA took finesse out of the game and UCLA zinged its parent body back with ugly. Turnabout is fair play.

-- One of my favorite UW plays – Sonny Sixkiller’s pass to Ace Bulger.

On September 19, 1970, a resigned crowd filed into Husky Stadium, expecting to see another loss, this one at the hands of Michigan State. The Huskies had finished 1-9 the year before, using the wishbone offense, and it was their first game of the season, along with Sonny Sixkiller's debut. Washington got the opening kickoff and what certainly would follow would be a series of boring running plays designed to set up a pass. In their minds, fans had made book on that. On the first offensive play of the game, Sixkiller lit up the dark stadium with a spiraling pass over the middle, connecting with senior tight end Ace Bulger, who bullied an astonished safety for a first down. Husky Stadium erupted, went nuts and Sonny began to shine. The zany passing attack that followed resembled that of the San Diego State Aztecs. Fittingly, Don Coryell had matriculated at Washington. The Huskies ended up beating the Spartans 42-16, posting the most points they had scored since the first game of the 1960 season.

-- Do you foul?

"When you're up by three with six seconds left, as the Huskies were against Illinois, do you intentionally foul to put an Illinois player at the line with two free throws?" asks Jim Moore of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

You don't foul, Lorenzo Romar says.

Why?

Fouling complicates the situation.

Not fouling is the simplest route to victory.

The clock is your best friend, so keep the clock running.

The guy shooting the 3-pointer may rush his shot, or not get it off. By all means don't foul him.

The odds are against him making the three-point shot even if he does get it off.

There is no guarantee that the guy shooting will be the best 3-point shooter on the team.

Even if he does make the shot, you may still get a shot off of your own.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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