Archive for Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wooden a big draw

Coaches thrilled to spend time with tourney’s namesake

December 15, 2007


Spending time with John Wooden is a big lure for coaches whose teams play in the 97-year-old legend's doubleheader in Anaheim, Calif.

Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett was a Pepperdine assistant under Lorenzo Romar when he spent two hours visiting Wooden's home.

"He called a couple hours later and said, 'One of you guys lost 78 cents or $1.05 in my couch,"' Bennett said. "He let us know he had the money for us if we wanted to come and get it."

Later in the season, Wooden attended a Pepperdine practice.

"Coach Wooden brought the money," Bennett said.

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher first met Wooden in 1993, when he was the coach at Michigan and Chris Webber was a finalist for the Wooden Award as college basketball's top player.

A week earlier, the Wolverines had lost to North Carolina in the national championship game, partly because Webber called a timeout when they had none left. Webber then told Fisher he was skipping the Wooden ceremony.

"It took us a week, but his dad and I convinced him that he'd made a commitment, that he had an obligation to go. He wouldn't speak to me on the plane ride out," Fisher said.

At the event, Wooden asked Fisher for some private time with Webber.

"When Webber came out, he said, 'Thanks for making me go. It's the greatest experience I've had so far in my athletic career,"' Fisher said.

Davidson coach Bob McKillop met Wooden for the first time at last week's doubleheader.

"I've known him for over 40 years, reading his books, watching his teams play," McKillop said. "It's very unusual to have a mentor that you never spoke to, but in his own way he has been a mentor to me because of the way he coaches and I want to really emphasize this, the way he teaches.

"We've lost that concept in our world of college athletics today, that concept of teaching and if anyone symbolizes that coach Wooden does."


Passing fancy: Grinnell College used to hold a number of Division III scoring and shooting records with its wide-open offense reminiscent of Loyola Marymount almost two decades ago.

After holding marks at one time for points and three-pointers made and attempted, Grinnell is now in the record book for assists.

David Arseneault, the coach's son, shattered the NCAA assist record with 34 in the Pioneers' 151-112 victory over North Central of Minnesota in a Division III game last weekend.

The previous record of 26 was set in 1989 by Robert James of Division III Kean University. The Division I record of 22 was achieved by three players, including current Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson at Southern University in 1988 and Sherman Douglas of Syracuse in 1989.

"I didn't even think it was possible. That's just so many assists that I thought there was no way," Arseneault said. "I had fun during every minute of the game."

Arseneault had 22 points and doubled his previous career high for assists.


Same name: How about that Mayo kid last week? No, not O.J., the freshman guard who helped Southern California scare No. 2 Memphis in overtime in the Jimmy V Classic.

Josh Mayo, the junior guard for Illinois-Chicago who was selected Horizon League player of the week.

Josh Mayo averaged 30.5 points in two league games last week. He had 29 in just 27 minutes in the Flames' 91-73 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was 10-for-12 from the field, including 5-for-6 from three-point range.


Tough question: What was the first Division I conference to have all of its members record a road victory this season? Unless you are a big Patriot League fan it's hard to imagine that was one of the first couple of dozen guesses.


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