John Wooden

Former UCLA, NBA player Dave Meyers dies at 62

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Dave Meyers, the star forward who led UCLA to the 1975 NCAA basketball championship as the lone senior in coach John Wooden’s final season and later played for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, died Friday. He was 62.

Meyers died at his home in Temecula after struggling with cancer for the last year, according to UCLA, which received the news from his younger sister, Ann Meyers Drysdale.

He played four years for Milwaukee after being drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. Shortly after, Meyers was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Bucks in exchange for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The 6-foot-8 Meyers led UCLA in scoring at 18.3 points and rebounding at 7.9 in his final season, helping the Bruins to a 28-3 record. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds in their 92-85 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA title game played in his hometown of San Diego.

Meyers Drysdale also played at UCLA during her Hall of Fame career.

Meyers assumed the Bruins’ leadership role during the 1974-75 season after Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes had graduated. Playing with sophomores Marques Johnson and Richard Washington, Meyers earned consensus All-America honors. Meyers made the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Bruins won the NCAA title.

“One of the true warriors in (at)UCLAMBB history has gone on to glory,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Dave Meyers was our Captain in `75 and as tenacious a player ever. RIP.”

Johnson recalled in other tweets how Meyers called him `MJB’ or Marques Johnson Baby when he was a freshman, and later in the NBA, Meyers was nicknamed “Crash” because he always diving on the floor for loose balls.

As a junior, Meyers started on a front line featuring future Hall of Famers Walton and Wilkes.

Meyers was a reserve as a sophomore on the Bruins’ 1973 NCAA title team during the school’s run of 10 national titles in 12 years under Wooden. The team went 30-0 and capped the season by beating Memphis 87-66 in the championship game, when Meyers had four points and three rebounds.

In 1975, Meyers, along with Elmore Smith, Junior Bridgeman and Brian Winters, was traded to Milwaukee for Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley.

During the 1977-78 season, Meyers was reunited with Johnson on the Bucks and averaged a career-best 14.7 points. He missed the next year with a back injury. Meyers returned in 1979-80 to average 12.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in helping the Bucks win a division title.

Born David William Meyers, he was one of 11 children. His father, Bob, was a standout basketball player and team captain at Marquette in the 1940s. The younger Meyers averaged 22.7 points as a senior at Sonora High in La Habra, California.

Meyers made a surprise announcement in 1980 that he was retiring from basketball to spend more time with his family. He later earned his teaching certificate and taught sixth grade for several years in Lake Elsinore, California.

He is survived by his wife, Linda, whom he married in 1975, and daughter Crystal and son Sean.

John Wooden statue unveiled outside the new Pauley Pavilion

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The renovation on Pauley Pavilion became complete Friday afternoon, when UCLA unveiled an 8-foot bronze statue of the legendary John Wooden outside the newly revamped arena.

The statue weights 400-pounds and has Wooden standing tall with his arms crossed, gazing to his left. One the base of the statue includes his signature and one of the countless Wooden quotes that are still recited today.

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

Wooden, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 99, won 10 national championships for the Bruins, including seven consecutive from 1967-1973.

Current Bruins coach Ben Howland added, ”It really captures Coach.”

Howland said Wooden might have downplayed the honor ”but he also understood how many lives he’s touched and what he’s meant to everyone here at UCLA.”

The reopening of Pauley Pavilion, along with the unveiling of a well-deserved statue, are some of the bright spots in a tough time in Bruin basketball. UCLA, who struggled to a 19-14 record in 2011-2012, are still waiting to hear about whether or not Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad – the top two recruits – will be eligible to play this season.

UCLA opens the new Pauley Pavilion Nov. 9 against Indiana State.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

UCLA to unveil John Wooden statue outside Pauley Pavilion this month

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As part of a celebration to open the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion, the UCLA Bruins will unveil a statue of legendary head coach John Wooden on Oct. 26.

The statue will stand outside the stadium, which recently underwent $136 million in renovations.

“The statue is a monument to a man who touched countless lives and showed us what it means to lead with integrity, humility, compassion and commitment,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. “The legacy of the late Coach Wooden transcends athletics, our campus and the local community. I speak for many when I say with pride that his image will forever grace the main entrance to Pauley Pavilion.”

Members of Wooden’s family are expected to be in attendance to see the unveiling of the statue, which was paid for by boosters to the athletics program and created by sculptor Blair Buswell.

Buswell is known for her work creating busts of inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In his time as the head coach at UCLA, Wooden won 10 national championships in a 12-season span and amassed an overall record of 620-147.

The Bruins open their season on Nov. 9 against Indiana State, which in itself is a tribute to Wooden. During his time as a coach, UCLA and Indiana State were the only two programs for which he coached.

UCLA is still waiting on the eligibility rulings of two keys players, Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad, who have not been granted initial clearance by the NCAA.

The team had a successful 3-0 trip to China in August, which showcased Anderson and fellow freshman Jordan Adams.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wooden's den moving to UCLA

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If you always dreamed of visiting John Wooden’s home, you’re in luck.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

The legendary UCLA coach died in June, and his family will soon place the Encino home on the market. But they’re donating the contents of his den to the school, where it’ll be preserved and showcased in the Bruins’ athletic hall of fame.

The Los Angeles Daily news reports that everything in the room — from presidential letters, to collection of Abraham Lincoln books and even his rolltop desk — will make the trip.

“Five years from now and 50 years from now, we want our student-athletes to be affected by the man he was,” said Bob Field, UCLA’s associate athletic director of sports and administration.

“Maybe this is more of a tangible thing for people on the outside, and enjoyment of our own people. One of the treasures was sitting in his home surrounded by books and trinkets and letters and photos and the filing cabinet. They always came away treasuring that opportunity to sit in his den.”

UCLA won’t get everything, however. Some of Wooden’s things will be sent to his native Indiana. Indiana State, where he coached for two years before heading to UCLA, and the city of Martinsville, where he grew up, have requested some memorabilia.

That’s how it goes with perhaps the greatest coach is sports history. Everyone wants to figure out a way to honor you.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

If this wasn't perfect basketball, it was close

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spt-100606-ucla-64-champs_standard.jpgIt goes without saying that John Wooden’s UCLA teams were dominant. Ten NCAA tournament titles in 12 seasons, a 205-5 record between 1966 and ’73? Dominant’s the only word that applies.

Even better? Those teams won playing different styles, and they played to win. No one wants to root for Goliath, but it must’ve been impossible to watch those teams and not enjoy it.

Whether it was the pell-mell, full-court pressing style of the early year, the center-driven reigns of Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton, or the cohesive, team-oriented groups led by Sidney Wicks, the Bruins always brought it. And these were teams that didn’t have a three-pointer or the shot clock.

As John Feinstein wrote for the Washington Post, Wooden did it all:

Wooden won with more talent and more size than the opposition, and he won with less talent and size than the opposition. He won playing fast, and he won playing slow. On the rare occasions when he did lose, he never blamed his players or the officials. He was as gracious in defeat as he was in victory.

Of those 10 title teams, none averaged fewer than 81.3 points per game (’73 version) and usually took around 73 shots a game. For comparison’s sake, this year’s Duke team took about 60 shots a game and averaged 77.3 points a game.

His most prolific scoring title team was the ’72 squad, which put up 94.6 points per game. His first championship team in ’64 averaged 88.9 points an outing. And it’s that first title team that would’ve been the most entertaining. Think Rick Pitino’s famed Kentucky squads, just shorter.

Wooden says UCLA was capable of winning an NCAA tournament for 10 years before that ’64 finally got one. So what made the difference? Turn to Sports Illustrated’s Alexender Wolff, who wrote the most interesting Wooden tribute of the weekend:

After a loss to Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, [assistant coach Jerry] Norman caucused with his boss. He argued that, imposing as it might be, a full-court man-to-man forces an offense to advance the ball with the dribble, which chews up time. If UCLA really wanted to send gas to a game’s engine — to hasten changes in possession and shorten each possession itself — the team needed not a man press, but a zone press, with the kinds of traps that only a foolish dribbler would try to slalom through. Opponents would have to advance the ball upcourt by passing it, and human nature being what it is, those passes would eventually become lobs and crosscourts, hurried and careless. UCLA’s quick hands, long arms and sprinters’ speed would lead to deflections and interceptions, and soon the ball would be headed the other way. The Bruins would score, and the way they’d score, suddenly and as a result of their opponents’ turnovers, would sow, as Wooden later put it, “disharmony and disunity.”

There was more. Force a turnover as a result of a zone press, Norman intuited, and the five Bruins would be spread across the breadth and length of the floor, the better to take advantage of [Walt] Hazzard’s skill in transition. Size may be an advantage in basketball, but it dissipates when spread over the court. And if the Bruins took a lead with a flurry of baskets, their opponents would fall behind, and to catch up would have to adopt a faster tempo — playing right into UCLA’s hands. “I laid out the rationale,” says Norman, who had used a 2-2-1 zone press successfully with his Brubabe freshmen. “We had no size, and we played in a conference where teams liked to walk the ball up the floor. The idea wasn’t to steal the ball, remember. That would be an ancillary benefit. It was to increase tempo.”

And poof! The 2-2-1 press was instituted and UCLA had some defense to pair with its already up-tempo offense.

Later on, when big guys like Alcindor and Walton roamed the court, the Bruins slowed it down (some), but were no less prolific on offense or in winning championships.

Think about what it means to have the best players, the best teams and produce the best basketball. We could tangibly point to what we love about hoops.

Of course, if it happened today, they’d get so much publicity and press coverage, I wonder if the backlash would be impossible to avoid. It’d certainly test our limits of ideal hoops.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Wooden's Bruins had a secret weapon

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Turns out John Wooden’s championship UCLA teams had more than great players like Alcindor and Walton.

Never underestimate how a pretty girl can influence the refs. I’ll let Phil Jackson explain. (No wonder Jackson’s Lakers get so many calls…)

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.