Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

Sports Medley: 2015 March Madness Week 2

by Tony Medley

Ruining the Game:  Rarely have I seen worse officiating than this year. Referees are calling knee-jerk fouls whenever two players go up for a rebound or a shot. If a shot is blocked, the whistle blows. There was a phantom call against Michigan State on a rebound with only a few seconds left in the game and MSU up by one. No referee should call a foul in that crucial part of the game unless it’s obvious. This was so un-obvious that nobody ever revealed against whom the foul was called. Louisville tied the game up and MSU won in overtime, but the game should have ended when Louisville missed its shot and botched the rebound. If there was any illegal contact on that play, and I replayed it several times, it was too ticky-tack to call and decide a game. However, I saw no illegal contact and after all the reviews still didn’t know against whom the foul had been called.

Grabbing Defeat From the Jaws of Victory: Notre Dame played a heroic game against Kentucky. But they were the architects of their defeat. It was clear that Kentucky was going to pound the ball inside by constantly feeding behemoth center Karl-Anthony Towns, who was too much for Notre Dame Center Zach Auguste. Towns was 10 for 13, all one foot shots. The game cried for Towns to be double-teamed every time he got the ball. Better to force Kentucky to take a jump shot by someone else, even if it’s a 50% shot, than let Towns take a 99% shot. But the Irish never once double teamed him and Towns kept Kentucky in the game.

Worse, with a two point lead and a minute left, Irish point guard Jerian Grant decided it was more important to run the clock down to zero than to get off a good shot and try to expand the lead. He dribbled at mid court until there were so few seconds left there was no shot to take but a throw. Kentucky came down and tied the score. With approximately 40 seconds left, he did the same thing, again losing the ball without getting a good shot. Kentucky came down and took the lead by two. With six seconds left, Grant then dribbled the length of the court and took a low percentage, falling out of bounds shot from the left side of the basket that missed everything. The Irish had played a disciplined, passing offense throughout the game and outplayed Kentucky. But Grant decided, apparently on his own if you listen to Irish Coach Mike Brey, to forsake that offense and dribble the game out when you can’t do that when there’s a clock.

Polonius: “What are you reading, my lord?” Hamlet: “Words, words, words”: “(They have to) recognize what should be easy to recognize; it’s a match up man to man zone,” CBS commentator Jim Spanarkel (graduated from Duke in 1979 and played five years in the NBA) on the Michigan State-Louisville game. These talking heads just put unconnected words together. Because basketball is an esoteric game, if they put enough of them together so they sound like sentences, nobody will question them. There are two basic defenses in basketball. One is a man-to-man defense in which each player guards a specific player. The other is a zone defense in which each player only guards a specific section of the court. They are mutually exclusive. There is no such thing as a “match up man-to-man zone;” that is an oxymoron. But, hey, it sounds good, right? There is such a thing as a matchup zone, but that apparently didn’t give Spanarkel enough words, so he added “zone,” which made what he said nonsense.

It was not a wonderful night for Spanarkel. Later in the game Marvin Clark of Louisville was on the foul line and CBS flashed a graphic that said he shot 72.2% for the season as Spanarkel said, “He’s 74% from the free throw line for the season.” Another Spanarkelism, “Fall away jumpers are not going to cut it against that defense.” Even if they go in? Why not? Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant did pretty well with fall away jumpers. And, later, “I think you’re going to see a lot more of that in that man-to-man look,” when Louisville was clearly playing a zone defense. With 21 seconds left in regulation and MSU up by one, Louisville got the ball and Spanarkel said, “Get down the court in a hurry and go for the basket as quick as you can.” So if you do score you give MSU another chance to win it? I would estimate that approximately 100% of the coaches in all levels of basketball would hold for the final shot.

Damning with Faint Praise: But Spanarkel had a play-by-play partner, Verne Lundquist, who added vapidity to the broadcast’s Spanarkelisms. Lundquist introduced the double header by announcing that Michigan State “outlasted” Oklahoma and that Duke “outlasted” Utah to reach these games. When did “outlasted” become synonymous with “beat,” “conquered,” and “defeated?”

Jock Talk: “If Dawson has as much energy as me, it should be a good game.” Montrezl Harrell, Louisville forward, who is a junior which implies he’s in his third year of schooling at the University of Louisville (for you jocks, it should be “as I”). Jock talk is not limited to players, though. “Him and Danzel said it in the huddle,” George Izzo, MSU coach (I hope I don’t have to explain this one).

Not Ready For Prime Time: After being gifted a win it didn’t deserve against SMU by one of the many incompetent NCAA referees, and actually looking like a basketball team against UAB, UCLA stunk the place out against Gonzaga, playing like it did all season, using a motion and weave offense that never sets up a good shot, never in fact seems to have a point. UCLA started out with point guard Isaac Hamilton taking two horrible shots and it was downhill from there. Coach Steve Alford went back to letting his son, Bryce, handle the ball all the time and UCLA was never in the game. The Bruins clearly did not deserve a tournament spot and their inept performance against Gonzaga was embarrassing for a team with UCLA’s basketball heritage.