Cards, ‘Dores Redux & Wizard of Westwood: Monday Musings

It’s a deja vu moment all over again tonight at Jim Patterson ballyard. Same time, same station, same situation. Louisville and Vanderbilt hook up in a regional loser-leaves-town death match (metaphorically speaking) to determine who moves on to a NCAA Super Regional next week against either Florida State or Oregon’s Ducks. (Go Quack!)

Let’s hope tonight’s outcome is the same as last year’s. The set up sure seems familiar. And is. Vandy needed a W a year ago to force a deciding game. And got it with an 8-4 win. Yesterday, in the same situation, the Commodores’ unlikely hero was hurler Richie Goodenow, who silenced the Cards’ bats. Two hits only, a season low, for the hard hitting Red & Black — whodathunkit?

U of L won the Monday night finale last season, 5-3.

Tonight’s game is fraught with intrigue. What effect, if any, will the return of coach Dan McDonnell have on the Cards? Will pitching ace Thomas Royse, rumored to have mono, take the mound? If not, who will hurl? Vandy’s staff is short and tired. Who’s going to work for them?

Will the Cardinals’ bats wake up? Will Vandy’s Aaron Westlake continue on his tear?

First pitch is 6:00 p.m.

* * * * *

There’s not much I can add to the millions of words of praise that have been written about John Wooden.

There are a couple of tidbits though that I haven’t seen mentioned. And they have to do with Wooden and the Louisville Cardinals and Peck Hickman.

John Wooden only lost one national championship game as a coach. In 1948, his Indiana State five lost the NAIB title game to . . . (that’s right, all of you playing at home) . . . the University of Louisville.

After that season, UCLA was looking for a new coach. So they reached out to . . . (not so fast, kids) . . . Louisville’s Peck Hickman. The Cardinal coach wasn’t interested. But he did recommend that the folks in Westwood talk to that youngster he’d just bested in that championship game.

And the rest, as they say, is . . . oh, you know.

* * * * *

If you haven’t noticed, there are times when I tend to be a naysayer. It’s a character flaw.

But I’m not going to even try and sit here and tell you that the praise for John Wooden’s success is overblown or misplaced. The guy won. And when he started winning, he continued to win. A lot.

But the curmudgeon in me must point out, his NCAA paths during those glory years were significantly easier than they would be today. Not that they wouldn’t have won anyway, but take the Alcindor years for example. Two years in a row, they only had to beat New Mexico State and Santa Clara to get to the national semis. The other year, it was Wyoming and Pacific. Their early round conquests in later championship years are also littered with west coast rummies.

Plus it was a different time, when superstar high schoolers were willing to sit on the bench and wait their turn. Curtis Rowe and Sidney Wicks hardly played until their junior years. And, UCLA was able to herd all these stars — John Calipari isn’t the first, folks — thanks to the beneficence of a Bruin booster, one Sam Gilbert. World Wide Wes? Sam didn’t need no stinkin’ World Wide Wes.

Okay enough. All that naysaying aside, Wooden was a master at the details and having his teams ready. In an era when he could get away with such a philosophy, he believed if his team performed as it should, scouting reports on opponents were not primary preparation tools. Plus there is something to be said for winning all the time even if you have the best players. He also had the best teams, which is a significant difference.

Which is to not mention that his philosophy, passed on to Denny Crum, brought 2 titles to Louisville.

John Wooden. Hoosier. Champion of Champions. Teacher. Best of the Best. R.I.P.

* * * * *

Quick Shots:

I didn’t see the end of the Celtics W last night. It was trumped by “Treme.” But it may be a better series than I thought. The basketball series, I mean, the TV series is outstanding. Boston seemed old and tired in the opener, but bounced back big and should benefit from the extended period between games.

World Cup starts Friday. Pay attention. It’s the real and legitimate World Series.

I think the Black Hawks are going to have to win a 7th game at home to cop the Stanley Cup.

– Seedy K

One Comment

  1. fred
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    RE Celtics- Lakers: That’s why God invented DVR. Watched Treme (What’s up with Creighton? Will Annie wise up?) Then wisked through the game. No halftime, timeouts or deadballs. RayRondo was a killer. Advantage Beantown.

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