When UCLA Ruled College Basketball

Posted

Southern California in the 1960's- sun, surf, beach and of course, UCLA basketball.

The Bruins go back to 1919 yet it was only during a brief period in 1964-75 that they forged UCLA’s legacy as the winningest NCAA Division I men’s basketball team.

Under the stewardship of legendary coach John Wooden, the school’s basketball squad ruled the court, racking up ten national titles in twelve consecutive seasons.

Wooden joined UCLA in 1948, toting his “pyramid of success” philosophy to a team that had only known two conference victories in almost a generation. The first year saw him turn the Bruins’ losing record of 12-13 to 22-7, laying the groundwork for an unprecedented 27 uninterrupted winning seasons under his tenure.

The first championship came in 1964, closing out a perfect 30-0 season. UCLA faced Duke at the Final and took down the Blue Devils 98-83. Junior Gail Goodrich led with 27 points and senior Walt Hazzard took home the MVP; both were later drafted by the LA Lakers.

The second national crown came in 1965 with Goodrich netting a then record 42 points to upend Michigan 91-80. 

Post 1964, UCLA rode another three perfect seasons in 1967, 1972 and 1973.  Central to Wooden’s coaching tenet were 25 behavioral traits he identified as cornerstones to competitive success. 

Fundamental game skills was just one.  The rest were qualitative measures transcending sports and touching on life in general: industriousness, initiative, enthusiasm, cooperation, patience, etc.

1966 introduced another future Laker to the Bruins lineup, sophomore Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The imposing 7’1” center helped guide the California school to three straight NCAA championships: 1967 (Dayton), 1968 (North Carolina) and 1969 (Purdue).

Alcindor’s dominance could only be matched by the MVP awards he earned after each tournament.  At the end of his college career, his superstar legacy would be marked by more than just points and rebounds.  Jabbar's towering presence under the net led the NCAA to ban the slam dunk until it was reinstated in 1976.

Junior Sidney Wicks picked up where Jabbar left off, clinching the MVP in 1970 after UCLA defeated Jacksonville for the trophy.  Wicks helped overtake Villanova at the 1971 Final before joining the Portland Trail Blazers.

With sophomore Bill Walton on the Bruins' 1972 roster, UCLA was on its way to a record 88-game winning streak. That season, UCLA averaged over 30-point winning margins and overcame Florida State at the championship.  Memphis State succumbed the following year as the 6’11” Walton landed 21 of 22 field goal attempts and scored 44 points to claim the title.

After defeating Kentucky in 1975, Wooden retired with a UCLA career record of 620-147 (81%).  Regarded by many as the greatest coach of all time, the dynasty he created and the players he inspired remain unmatched in the annals of college basketball.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Shop For Our Books & DVD's

WEEKLY SPORTS PUZZLE

View larger Puzzle archive


THIS WEEK

10 years ago

GOLF December 11, 2009  Tiger Woods announces he would take an indefinite leave from professional golf following allegations and his admission of marital infidelities. A number of his sponsors subsequently dropped him such as Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and General Motors. After undergoing therapy, Woods was back on the course at the 2010 Masters. He and his wife divorced that summer.

20 years ago

HOCKEY December 17, 1999  Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins becomes just the 3rd person in NHL history to post 1,100 assists. Spending the majority of his tenure with the Bruins, the Quebec native still holds the NHL record for most goals, assists, and points by a defenseman. His career lasted from 1979-2001 but he won his only Stanley Cup in his final year playing for the Colorado Avalanche.

30 years ago

BASEBALL December 11, 1989  Mark Davis signs a record $10 million, 3-year contract with the Kansas City Royals. That year, he won the NL Cy Young Award with the San Diego Padres, posting an ERA of 1.85 and 65 finished games. Though, he would never come close to matching his accomplishments with the Padres. Playing for 7 different MLB teams, Davis retired with a career ERA of 4.17.

40 years ago

FOOTBALL December 3, 1979  Charles White, running back at the University of Southern California, is awarded the Heisman Trophy. The 5’10, 190 lb. footballer would become a first-round pick (27th overall) in the 1980 NFL draft, joining the Cleveland Browns and later on the Los Angeles Rams. At USC, White scored 49 touchdowns and led the Pac-8 and Pac-10 records in total yards rushed at 6,245.