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The Week In Review (Week of May 29)

ESPN reports that "John Wooden, college basketball's gentlemanly Wizard of Westwood who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever, has died. He was 99. Wooden guided the Bruins to seven consecutive titles from 1967 through 1973 and a record 88-game winning streak in the early 1970s. From the time of his first title following the 1963-64 season through the 10th in 1974-75, Wooden's Bruins were 330-19, including four 30-0 seasons. "

Coach Wooden is forever linked to Villanova basketball lore. His 1971 championship came at the hands of the unheralded the Wildcats, led by Howard Porter. Villanova fought from behind for most of the game, twice cutting the lead to three in the final minutes. Coach Wooden's tactics were successful in fending off a furious charge by the Cats, freezing the ball in the final minutes. Many believe that Villanova would have won had a shot-clock then been in use. Ultimately, Villanova lost by six, 68–62, the narrowest spread of UCLA's seven consecutive victories in NCAA title games. For the Villanova basketball history buffs, I have added excerpts and photos taken from the Sports Illustrated article covering the 1971 Championship at the end of this post. The following are links to videos of portions of that game:

- First Half (I wonder whether this was a compilation of all the bad plays in the first half)

- Jack Kraft congratulates John Wooden

Brian of wrote an exceptional article, "Expansion Apolclypse?" covering the possible conference realignments and their impact on Villanova and the Big East. It is a must-read for Nova sports fans.

This week, Nova Notebook  features senior captain, Corey Fisher.  Mike Sheridan writes, “for three years the Nova Nation has marveled at Fisher's electric moves with the ball and his ability to knife through defenders to the basket. He's also got the tools to create for others and is a willing defender. Now, comes that extra piece of maturity that Cunningham and Reynolds have worn so ably these past two seasons.  The grit that allowed Fisher to rise into an elite prospect at St. Patrick's High School in New Jersey while commuting across the river from the Bronx has served him especially well this off-season. He has embraced the leadership role bestowed upon him by Wright and taken to heart the message of how quickly things can change in the crucible of March.  In many respects, the 2010-11 edition of Villanova Basketball will be Corey Fisher's team. It will depend on him not just for points and assists, but for perspective. In a locker room where his quick wit and infectious smile are already appreciated, he will now be asked to serve as a rudder. And he knows better than most that, while Stokes and Pena will be right there with him, Wright expects his senior lead guards to have especially strong shoulders. All of the moments that led him here will no doubt play a role in taking this squad forward. Even the painful ones, few and far between though they have been."

CBS Sports says that despite predictions that the Big East will take a step back in the 2010-11 season, it still is likely they will have a team playing in final weekend for a third straight season.  CBS sees Villanova having the best chance to be that team, saying, “when the Wildcats reached No. 3 in the country, and Reynolds seemed a shoo-in for conference player of the year, it appeared time to acknowledge that Villanova was above the Big East -- and just then, the bottom dropped out. Reynolds, crazy as it sounds can and will be replaced; it was, and is, a guard-heavy team, and Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes should be able to take on more responsibility.  I especially liked Mouphtaou Yarou, who showed flashes of greatness at the end of the season should be a force in the middle as a sophomore.  Also coming back from a promising freshman year are forward Isaiah Armwood and guards Dominic Cheekand Maalik Wayns, and entering is top recruit Jayvaughn Pinkston, a forward from Brooklyn.” 

Scottie Reynolds had a workout with the Minnesota Timberwolves.  interviewed Scottie afterwards, and discussed what he can bring to an NBA.  Said Scottie, "I competed hard, I left it all out there. I'm not satisfied but I'm happy with the effort I left out there and hopefully that went into everybody else watching."  With regard to his NBA draft prospects, Scottie said, "Who knows, maybe second round, maybe not drafted. It's a process. If I'm not drafted then hopefully a team will pick me up. They will get a good, solid professional. That's one thing I know for sure, hopefully they can realize that and take a chance on me."

Rivals reports that "Frenji Sports held their 3rd Annual Frankie Williams Charity Classic game in Westchester, NY. The event was loaded with top senior and juniors from the New York metro area."   Villanova-bound Achraf Yacoubou was the star, scoring 20 points in the game.  Fellow Villanova-bound Jayvaughn Pinkston scored 15 points.

LA News Monitor reports that Villanova’s “Matt Szczur and Brian Streilein bagged the awards of player of the year and pitcher of the year, respectively in the Philadelphia Big Five.”  The MLB draft will be held on June 7 - 9.  projects Matt Szczur as the #22 position player prospect in the draft. reports that the “Seattle Sounders signed midfielder Michael Seamon the club announced on Wednesday. Seamon was a second-round pick by the Sounders in the 2010 SuperDraft. Seamon, 22, was the 27th overall pick. He trained with the club in preseason then returned to Villanova to finish his degree. He rejoined the club on May 18.  Seamon is a two-time All-Big East selection, spending all four years at Villanova and leading his club in total points each year. He started all 18 games played as a senior, contributing five goals and seven assists, and was named first team All-Big East.”

Baltimore gave updates on two Villanova recruiting targets.   “Center Daniel Ochefu will visit Georgetown, Maryland and Villanova  before the end of the summer.  DeMatha point guard Quinn Cook said he remains open to about 12 schools but will narrow it to five by the end of the summer and possibly take official visits in the fall. He has already visited Wake Forest, Georgetown, Villanova and North Carolina and will visit UCLA unofficially this weekend .”

ESPN reports that “Kentucky coach John Calipari denied that his program is under NCAA investigation and that he and NBA MVP LeBron James had discussed a package deal for Calipari to coach him in the NBA.  The Chicago Tribune has reported that Wesley had proposed a package deal of James and Calipari to the Chicago Bulls. A source with direct knowledge of the Bulls coaching search told that they weren't pursuing Calipari. He was defiant in rebutting charges that there is an NCAA investigation into the men's basketball program.  "It's not true," Calipari said. "It's not true. When you're coaching at Kentucky, you're held to a different standard and like in politics there is a core group that absolutely loves you and everyone else is trying to unseat you in any way they can -- anything to trip you up, that's what it is.”


Sports Illustrated - "National Championship Game" April 05, 1971, by Joe Jares

“When the UCLA basketball team arrived in Houston for the NCAA championships, Coach John Wooden made one of his typically startling forecasts. "I think we have as good a chance as any team here," he said. There was that rascal going out on a limb again.”

“On Saturday, Villanova was hoping to become the second team in history with six losses on its record to win the NCAA tournament (Kentucky's "Fiddling Five" did it in 1958). The Wildcats had only nine players, so they were practicing with "the publicity man from the school paper, an injured player and two managers," said Kraft. "We only can play five men at a time, so we're not worried about it."

“Villanova had shocked everyone by murdering strong Penn by 43 points in the East Regional. After the Wildcats beat Western Kentucky Thursday, a group of Villanova students marched about 11 miles to the Penn campus to crow some more, and on Friday Kraft was named university division Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The season already was a huge success, but Villanova did not intend to stop playing basketball just yet.

"The whole East Coast will go up in flames if we win," said Siemiontkowski. "The school would be unbelievable. They'd burn it." Villanova cheerleader Tim Halloran, nicknamed "Rootie Kazootie," had no fear of the Bruin pompon girls, either. "I'm really psyched up," he said. "This is my last game." Well, UCLA saved the East from firebugs, but Rootie Kazootie's last game was plenty exciting.”

“Villanova opened in a two-three zone, the sort that had given UCLA so much trouble in the West Regional game against Long Beach State. The Pennsylvanians held Wicks and Curtis Rowe in check fairly well, but 6'9" Center Steve Patterson (see cover) made nine of 13 shots, inside and out, and had 20 points at the half. (Patterson turned down two pro offers to forgo his senior year at UCLA. "I know I'm not a famous entity," he said, "but I might have been infamous if I had left and UCLA lost a national championship because of that.")”

“With five minutes to go in the first half and UCLA holding a 39-32 lead by virtue of its furious pressing defense and some hot long-range shooting, the Bruins went into a stall to force Villanova out of its zone. Villanova obliged, just slightly, but that was enough for UCLA to move ahead by 11 points.”

“In the second half, UCLA spread out again. Wooden was afraid the long shots, so necessary against the zone, would stop dropping and he was certain his team could score on Villanova's seldom seen man-to-man. He was wrong. Villanova played man-to-man as if it had just discovered a new toy and the game turned into a battle to the end. When UCLA called a time out with 4:53 remaining, the Wildcats were only four points behind. Their man-to-man had held the Bruins to just three field goals- all layups. And the fans who could see at all were being treated to a superb show, a duel between All-America Wicks and All-America Howard Porter.”

“Twice Porter's jump shots closed the margin to three points, but three points were as close as Villanova would come. When Patterson's layup, aided by a goal tending call, made it 66-60 with 38 seconds left, Wicks went into his mugging act. He was justified. He had his third national championship.”

“Patterson finished his Saturday chores with 29 points, a career high. Porter, who scored 25 points, was voted the tournament's outstanding player. And Wicks had the game ball in his clutches. "Lew said he came to win three," Wicks said. "And I did, too."

“To the credit of Villanova, this was the first time in years UCLA had had to work up a sweat in an NCAA-final game. Indeed, during the Lew Alcindor era it often seemed there were no final games- just passionless exhibitions. But this season's Wicks team, which was not up to its immediate predecessors, had grown used to close calls. The Bruins even lost once, to Notre Dame by seven points. They beat Stanford by only five points. They beat USC, after trailing by nine points with only 9 minutes to go. They trailed Oregon by one point with less than a minute to go when Bibby stole the ball and drove in for the winning basket. Wicks hit a 20-foot jump shot in the final seconds to beat Oregon State. Two foul shots with seven seconds to go were the margin over Washington State. Rowe's jump shot with less than a minute left beat Washington. And UCLA squeezed past Long Beach State by two points.”

"At times it looked bad," said Wooden. "But somehow we stuck in there. Except for the Notre Dame game, we always ended up where we wanted to be at the end."

“Afterward, as Wooden stood where he wanted to be, with his seventh NCAA championship wristwatch in his hand and interviewers and well-wishers surrounding him, it was easy to recall the brief clipping he had produced at the coaches' convention the day before. "

“It was one of those 25-years-ago-to-day features from an Elkhart, Ind. newspaper and it told how, in 1946, Coach John Wooden of South Bend Central High, a recent service returnee, came to speak at a winter sports banquet. "They had hoped to line up some prominent college coach," the paper said.”