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Tables Have Turned, and UCLA, Not USC, Is Looking for a Coach

April 09, 1988

Alas, even Walt Hazzard appears to have fallen into the trap of claiming that former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden performed his wizardry because of the talent of his players.

That sounds too much like those who charged over the years that "anyone could have done what Wooden did with those players."

The fact is that John Wooden was indeed a wizard. I have long felt that his greatest year was his first at UCLA--1948-49. In that season, he took a team which had ended the previous season in the basement of the Pacific Coast Conference Southern Division and, without recruiting a new player, he captured first place.

I recently had an opportunity to ask Coach Wooden whether he agreed that this was his finest season. He answered: "Yes, that was one of two. I also liked the year after Lewis Alcindor's graduation. Everyone had said 'wait until next year when he has no Alcindor, we'll get him then.' " As we know, without that great player, and with a couple of guys named Wicks and Rowe, Wooden went on to capture another national championship.

MARTIN A. BROWER

Corona del Mar

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