Do teams learn from defeat? Bill Frieder thinks they do. He's the coach of the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines who finished the regular season with a 73-71 win over Indiana Sunday.
Afterward, he said: "I want to thank Indiana for beating us by 25 points in our Big Ten opener. That woke us up."
John Wooden, asked about defeats, told Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post that sometimes they help, sometimes they don't.
Of the 71-69 loss to Elvin Hayes and Houston in 1968, he said: "It made it much easier for us when we met them in the NCAA tournament semifinals."
UCLA, led by Lew Alcindor, won the rematch by 32 points.
However, Wooden added: "When Notre Dame broke our streak in Bill Walton's last year, people wrote that it was good for us; they said it ensured that we'd win the national championship. We didn't. We lost twice more that season, and lost in double overtime to a fine North Carolina State team in the semifinals of the tournament.
"I can't say those regular-season losses were good for us. Your team will be about the same strength going into the tournament if it's undefeated or has one loss. But I doubt with four or five losses I'd have the same confidence going in as I would with one."
He concluded: "People say you can learn from your defeats. But you can learn from your victories, too. It's up to the coach to make his team aware of its mistakes, win or lose."
Add Indiana: The Hoosiers lost in the final seconds Sunday when Michigan's Gary Grant grabbed a blocked shot by Indiana's Uwe Blab and threw in the winning basket.
Said Blab: "I really don't know what happened. I thought I blocked the shot. I blocked it and fell down. Somebody got the ball and tipped it in. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know who got it."
He added that Coach Bob Knight thought he should have grabbed the ball after blocking the shot.
"He obviously thought I could have, so probably I could have," Blab said. "He was rather upset about it."
Said the Associated Press: "Knight left immediately after the game and refused to talk to reporters."
For What It's Worth: The last time USC went into the NCAA playoffs as a conference champion was in 1960-61 when it won the Big Five. The first two opponents were teams which have since joined the Pacific 10--Oregon and Arizona State. The Trojans, led by John Rudometkin, squeezed by the Ducks, 81-79, but were bombed out by the Sun Devils, 86-71.
Note: A reserve for the Trojans was Pete Hillman, father of Joe Hillman, the 40-point-a-game guard from Glendale Hoover who played sparingly as a freshman for Indiana this season.
St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca, on Georgetown Coach John Thompson after the Hoyas bombed the Redmen, 92-80: "Maybe the Pentagon should look into his techniques."