Saturday, June 5, 2010

R.I.P -- Coach John Wooden

Former UCLA Head Basketball Coach John Wooden passed away yesterday at the age of 99. Wooden often called "The Wizard of Westwood" -- set many, many coaching marks that will probably never be broken. Winning 10 National Championships in a 12 year span at UCLA is just one of them. He hails from the town of Hall, IN where he was born in 1910. At the age of 14 his family moved to Martinsville, IN where he led his high school to three consecutive Indiana State Championships as a player -- earning All State honors all three years. Wooden then went on to play at Purdue where he helped the Boilermakers win a National Championship in 1932 and All American honors three times. He's the first ever to be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach. Coach Wooden even coached for ten years at South Bend Central High School. However, Notre Dame fans know him best from the games his Bruins played against Digger Phelps and the Irish. One of the most famous -- from a ND Fan's perspective -- is the game January 19, 1974 when the #2 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish stopped the #1 ranked Bruins record 88 game win streak by scoring the last eleven points of the game in the 71-70 Irish victory. The photo above is of Dwight Clay's game winning basket -- that's Adrian Dantley in the foreground. What's often forgot about UCLA's record streak is Notre Dame had the last victory against UCLA in 1971 -- before they went on their 88 game run. And, the Irish didn't make the Sports Illustrated cover commemorating this win -- the following Monday -- which bugs Digger to this day. Click on the link below to see the last five minutes of this game. Coach Wooden, you were a true gentleman!


Former ND Alum Named Coach of NBA Hornets!

Former Irish Basketball Player, Monty Williams, Notre Dame Class of 1994 -- was hired late last night as the new Head Coach of the NBA's New Orleans Hornets! Williams becomes the "second" former ND hoops player to sit in the "head chair" on an NBA bench -- joining Adrian Dantley who was the Denver Nuggest "interim" Head Coach this past season. Williams, out of Potomac, MD came to ND as a 4.0 student and highly regarded forward. Unfortunately, Williams was diagnosed with a heart condition during his freshman season and he didn't play his sophomore or junior seasons -- but was cleared to play his senior season and a fifth year -- scoring 22.4 points a game for the Irish in the 1993-94 season. Williams was a first round pick of the New York Knicks in 1994 and played nine years in the NBA. His best game was a 30 point effort for the San Antonio Spurs -- one of five NBA teams he played for during his NBA career. Williams was hired as an Assistant Coach for the NBA Portland Trailblazers in 2005 -- and he's been with the Blazers ever since -- until he signed a three-year contract last night with the Hornets. Congratulations Monty!!! Here's a link to The Times Picayune article:


ESPN Ranks ND's Recruiting Class -- 11th

Head Coach Brian Kelly & Company have been hitting the recruiting trail hard, these past few months, seeking the talent needed to fit his style of play. And, so far so good. To date, nine high school "rising seniors" have verbally committed to the Irish -- even though the actual "Signing Day" isn't until February 2011. Just goes to show you how the recruiting game has changed. ESPN just released it's rankings of the verbal commitments to date and the Irish stand 11th in their ranking of college football recruiting. Headlining the Irish verbals are (Pictured L to R) Offensive Lineman; Matt Hegarty (New Mexico), Jordan Prestwood (Florida) and TE Ben Koyack (Pennsylvania). Koyack just won the Pennsylvania High School State Title in the Javelin. The first verbal commitment to this recruiting class came from Brad Carrico, who's a DE from Brady Quinn's old high school in Dublin, Ohio. Here's a link to the ESPN Rankings: