The Hoops HD Report: May Session

Chad and the rest of the panel are together for this year’s first offseason podcast.  The big topic of discussion is how the so-called bathroom laws could impact the future of the NCAA Tournament, particularly the already scheduled future dates in North Carolina, and whether or not they feel it is the appropriate action for the NCAA to take this kind of a measure.  They also discuss more possible conference realignment, new media deals for the Big Ten and Conference USA, and the sad and unfortunate passing of Dayton’s Steve McElvene.  All that, and much more…

 

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show….

Call from the Hall: HoopsHD interviews Hall of Famer Jamaal Wilkes

The UCLA Bruins and Los Angeles Lakers did not have great seasons this year, but if they need a reminder of what it takes to win then they should look no further than legendary alum Jamaal Wilkes. After going 20-0 for the UCLA freshman team he won a pair of NCAA titles in 1972/1973 under Hall of Fame coach John Wooden. He finished the 1975 NBA season by being named ROY and winning a title with Golden State, then won 3 more titles in a 6-year span with the Lakers from 1980-1985, and in March he was elected to the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Earlier today HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with him about winning 88 games in a row and being a 3-time Academic All-American. We congratulate Mr. Wilkes and the rest of the 2016 class of the Hall of Fame, and are 1 day late in wishing him a very happy birthday as well!

silk

You were nicknamed “Silk” due to your smooth style: who gave you the nickname and how do you like it? I love it! When I was a freshman at UCLA there was a guy in the band who loved Bruins basketball. I made a nice move 1 day at practice and that evening I was eating dinner along with my fellow freshmen. The band guy came up to me and said that my move was as smooth as silk. The other guys on the team started calling me that so the nickname stuck, and the next year when I was on the varsity our broadcaster Dick Enberg started using it.

You were part of UCLA teams that won a record 88 consecutive games under Hall of Fame coach John Wooden: what made him such a great coach, and do you think that your record will ever be broken? The UConn women’s team actually broke the record several years ago under Coach Geno Auriemma. Coach Wooden was a Hall of Fame player/coach and was a great teacher who could communicate the essence of what he was saying in just a few words. His consistent humility was remarkable: he was such a profound man.

After going 20-0 on the UCLA freshman team, you went 30-0 in your 1st year on the varsity and had 23 PTS/11-16 FG/10 REB in a 5-PT win over Florida State in the 1972 NCAA tourney title game: how much of a home-court advantage did you have while playing at the LA Memorial Sports Arena, and did it reach a point where you just expected to win every single time that you stepped onto the court? It was an advantage being in LA but the Sports Arena was foreign to us. From the players’ standpoint the thought of losing just never entered our minds: from the 1st day of practice we just tried to do the best we could. You can imagine all the hoopla around such a long winning streak but Coach Wooden never talked to us about the streak. After every game he just wanted us to look in the mirror and believe that we did our best: that yardstick took all the pressure off of losing.

In the 1973 NCAA tourney title game, tourney MOP Bill Walton had 44 PTS/21-22 FG/13 REB in a win over Memphis to finish off yet another 30-0 season: where does Walton’s performance rank among the greatest that you have ever seen? I cannot think of a greater game in college basketball history, at least that I was a part of.

In the 1974 Final 4 you scored 15 PTS in a 3-PT 2-OT loss to eventual champion NC State: how much of a home-court advantage did the Wolfpack have while playing in Greensboro, and where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? They were a great team and had a great coach. During the regionals they never had to leave their home state so I think it was a tremendous advantage for them. I get asked more about our losses to Notre Dame and NC State than our wins: that game should have been the title game.

You were a 2-time All-American and a 3-time 1st-team Academic All-American: how were you able to balance your work on the court with your work in the classroom? I took advantage of the tutors we had and our coaching staff always monitored us. It was a challenge for me because the classrooms were larger than I was used to in high school.

You were picked 11th overall by Golden State in the 1974 NBA draft (3 spots ahead of Maurice Lucas) en route to being named 1975 NBA ROY: how were you able to make such a smooth transition from college to the pros? It was not quite that smooth at all! Coming from UCLA, the media had a lot of questions about whether I could withstand the rigors of the NBA so I had to work hard to establish myself. I was playing PF opposite Rick Barry at SF, so in addition to the major leap from college I also had to play a more physical position. Fortunately I was able to learn the ropes and we had a team that just meshed during my 1st year.

In the 1975 NBA Finals with Golden State you swept Washington to win the title: how weird was it to play at the Cow Palace (due to a scheduling conflict at Oakland Arena), and how big a deal was it to be part of the 1st championship game in US major pro sports to feature 2 African-American head coaches (Al Attles/KC Jones)? The Cow Palace was very different but it symbolized how we were viewed by the public. We were predicted at the start of the season to finish 5th so instead of reserving the Oakland Arena for our playoff games it had been rented out to the Ice Capades! We had a chip on our shoulder so in an odd way it was a fitting end to that season. There was a lot of talk at the time about the coaches but it did not matter once we were in the heat of battle.

In the summer of 1975 you converted to Islam and legally changed your name to Jamaal Abdul-Lateef: did you face any backlash at the time? At the time it was what I believed and I was sincere about it. There was some backlash but people who really knew me did not care that much, plus I was playing well and we were winning.

Take me through the magical 1980 NBA Finals with the Lakers:
In Game 4 Julius Erving scored 23 PTS in a 3-PT win by Philly, including his legendary up-and-under move that has become 1 of the most famous basketball highlights ever: what was your reaction when you saw him defy gravity? The interesting thing about competing against Dr. J is that it was hard to not get caught up watching him because he was so captivating. I was the 1st guy he blew by on the way down court before making his incredible shot.

In Game 6 you scored a career-high 37 PTS to help clinch the title: what was the mood of the team like when you learned that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out with a bad ankle, and how was rookie Magic Johnson able to step in for him at center? It was a process: at 1st we felt devastated because we did not want to play in Philly without Kareem. Once the reality set in we recognized that we would have to play fast, rebound the ball better, and that each of us would get more shots. When we arrived in Philly we were not as distraught about it. At the shoot-around that morning Coach Paul Westhead asked who would jump center, and Magic volunteered.

In Game 6 of the 1982 NBA Finals you scored a team-high 27 PTS to help clinch your 2nd title in 3 years: how were you able to keep playing your best over and over when it mattered the most? Preparation. I know that “fundamentals” is an overused word but I had efficient techniques that I learned from both Coach Wooden and some of my other coaches. I tried to play with an economy of effort and do things in the simplest way possible.

In 2012 you were inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame and in March you were inducted into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame: where does that rank among the highlights of your career? I am truly honored and humbled by it: I still have to pinch myself! I always thought that winning titles was the best, and it was, but this ranks right up there.

If you would like to learn more about his career, you can purchase a copy of “Jamaal Wilkes: Memoirs of the Original Smooth as Silk” at:

www.amazon.com/Jamaal-Wilkes-Memoirs-Original-Smooth/dp/0615974848

Reaching the Summit: HoopsHD interviews Team USA player Joshua Langford

Michigan State’s season ended on a sad note last month after getting upset by Middle Tennessee, but they plan to advance a bit farther next March thanks to some of their incredible incoming recruits.  1 of those is Joshua Langford, who has had 1 heck of a spring: winning a state title for the 3rd time in 4 years, winning the McDonald’s All-American Game, and a spot on the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team for Saturday’s Nike Hoop Summit.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Langford late last night about surviving a near-death experience and why he wants to play for Coach Tom Izzo. 

langford

At age 12 you were diagnosed with bacterial meningitis: how close did you come to dying, and how were you able to survive? I was very close to dying, like on the borderline, but I just thank God and my doctors for helping me make it through.

You teach Sunday school and speak at chapel services: what role does your faith play in your life? It plays a big role. The ball will eventually stop bouncing for everyone but God will always be there, so my faith is very important to me.

You work out several times a day and even use an altitude mask to increase the intensity: how has your hard work in practice translated to your success in games? I feel like I have made a big jump from my freshman year, and even from last year, to now, and hopefully I can keep it going in college next year.

Last summer you signed to play at Michigan State for Coach Tom Izzo, who was recently elected to the Hall of Fame: what makes Izzo such a great coach, and why did you choose the Spartans? He gets the best out of his players with tough love and is always there for his players. Gary Harris had a chance to leave a few years ago after his freshman season but he came back because Coach has so much love for the team.

You are 6’7” and played combo guard in high school: what position are you most comfortable at on the court? I am comfortable at every position from the 1 to the 3 thanks to my skills and basketball IQ.

In early March you scored a game-high 25 PTS for Madison Academy to help beat Midfield and win your 3rd Alabama state title in 4 years: what is the key to winning titles? You have to play within your team and take care of business on the defensive end. You also need good chemistry.

The Spartans were upset by Middle Tennessee State in the 1st-round of the NCAA tourney: did you watch the game, and do you think that it puts any extra pressure on you to succeed next March? It was tough to watch them lose like that but it did not define their entire season. I hated to see the seniors (like Denzel Valentine) not win it all but we just have to move on and prepare for next year. There is not much pressure because there are still plenty of players around who can teach us the ropes.

In last month’s McDonald’s All-American Game you scored 12 PTS in a 7-PT win by the West: which player impressed you the most? I loved my whole team: we played together and were all unselfish. Lonzo Ball tied a McDonald’s record with 13 AST and we all shared the ball, which I think is why we won.

1 of the players on the East team was Miles Bridges: how excited are you to team up with him in East Lansing this fall? I am very excited: Miles is a great player and I look forward to playing with him. We have talked and we have the same mindset as all the other incoming freshmen: work hard and win a title!

On Saturday you will play for the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, OR: what do you know about the World Select Team, and how do you think your team is going to do? We just had a mini-film session: I am holding the scouting report in my hand as we speak! The World Team looks big but I think that we can really spread them out with our strong guards. I think we are the better team so if we play together and treat them like they are better than us, I think that we will win.

Call from the Hall: HoopsHD interviews Roger Cushman about Doug Collins

We are approximately 10 weeks away from the 2016 NBA draft: sometimes you pick a future Hall of Famer like Tim Duncan or LeBron James…and sometimes you pick Greg Oden.  This year marks the 43rd anniversary of a pick that did turn into a future Hall of Famer: Philly selected Doug Collins from Illinois State.  For all of his positive accomplishments (3-time All-American, 4-time All-Star, coaching Michael Jordan, etc.), many people remember him most for making a pair of go-ahead FTs for team USA with 3 seconds left in the 1972 Olympic gold medal game (before it turned into 1 of the most controversial endings in the history of sports), but the happy ending is that last month Collins was finally elected to the Hall of Fame.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel recently got to chat with former Illinois State SID Roger Cushman about Collins scoring 57 PTS in a game and being a 3-time Academic All-American.  We congratulate Collins and the rest of the 2016 class of the Hall of Fame! 

doug

In the controversial 1972 Olympic gold medal basketball game against the Soviet Union, Collins made 2 FTs to give the US a 50–49 lead with 3 seconds left, but after the refs restarted the game’s final seconds a couple of times the Soviets made a layup at the buzzer to win the game: what impact did that game have on Doug either on or off the court? The whole experience changed him in a lot of ways. We were just a small college when Doug arrived in the 1960s and he kind of grew with our program. He was an unknown quantity when he went to the Olympics but came back to the US as a celebrity. We always knew that he was good, but when you prove yourself against the best players in the world it just changes your whole outlook. He was a real hero throughout the state of Illinois: almost everywhere we played there was a pregame ceremony recognizing his achievements. Everyone in the US felt that our country had been robbed.  Doug’s steal/FTs under immense pressure after recovering from getting clobbered was great…until the travesty occurred, so people liked that he came through in the clutch.

His coach at Illinois State was Will Robinson, the 1st African-American coach in D-1 history: how big a deal was it at the time, and what kind of relationship did the star have with the coach? It was a big deal. Doug was a sophomore when we hired Will and they developed a good relationship. Doug came from Benton, IL (where he was a neighbor of John Malkovich!), and Will would tease him about the lack of African-Americans in Doug’s area. Will had coached quite a few players who went on to success in the pros like Spencer Haywood/Mel Daniels. Will had a unique philosophy: instead of recruiting players at specific positions like guards/forwards/centers, he wanted to have shooters/rebounders/playmakers: Doug was his shooter. There is a statue of both of them in front of our arena.

On January 3, 1973 he scored a school-record 57 PTS in a win vs. New Orleans: was it just 1 of those situations where every shot he put up seemed to go in because he was “in the zone”? He was spectacular in that game: we won in OT so we needed every single point he scored. He had another game with 55 PTS so it was nothing unique for him to score a lot: he has 5 of our top-7 all-time scoring performances!

He finished his 3-year varsity career with 2240 PTS: what made him such a great scorer, and do you think that anyone will ever break his record? We had a player named Tarise Bryson who was on pace to break the record before getting injured as a senior. The amazing part is that Doug set the career scoring record after only 2 seasons! From what people said, Doug was always in motion and when he got the ball he had the quickest 1st step that you could imagine. Back then they played in those Converse canvas shoes: I cannot tell you how many shoes he went through every year from tearing them up! He was deadly from the top of the FT circle and was terrific on backdoor plays: he was like a blur. Someone wrote a song about him after the Olympics and it was quite a hit in the local area. He worked hard at improving his reaction time and was great on fast breaks: he was the total package.

He was named All-American and Academic All-American during each of his 3 years: how did he balance his work on the court with his work in the classroom? He had a terrific competitive desire, which I am sure he still has today. He would go to class and some people would call him a jock, so he would make a point of getting a better score in the class than they did! He left before graduating but made sure to pick up his degree after his playing days were over. He is in the Academic All-American Hall of Fame.

He was selected 1st overall by Philly in the 1973 NBA draft: did he see that as a validation of his college career, or the realization of a lifelong dream of reaching the NBA, or other? We all knew that he was great and we were hoping that he would make the NBA, but after the Olympics he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. By then there was a dawning that he would be really special, and to be drafted #1 in that era from a basketball-obscure place was just amazing. You expect #1 picks to come from blueblood places like Duke/UCLA: we had a very average season and did not even play in the NCAA tourney.

In Game 6 of the 1977 Finals vs. Portland George McGinnis missed a jumper with 4 seconds left in a 2-PT loss to Portland as the Blazers won the title (their only 1 to date): where does that rank among the most devastating losses of his career? I am sure that it must have been a great disappointment because everyone wants to win a championship.

He was a 4-time All-Star during his 8-year NBA career and averaged 17.9 PPG, but only had 3 seasons of 60+ games due to various injuries: how good a player do you think he would have been if he could have stayed healthy? Even with his injuries he still had some great stats: some people think that he could have been like the gold standard for guards at the time (Jerry West). When he was actually able to play he had a terrific career. I do not know if they had weight training back then but his quickness took its toll on his legs. He arrived on campus around 6’2” as a 1-year high school starter but by the time he was a sophomore he had grown to 6’6”. Back then you never heard of 6’6” guards: that was the size of the centers!

His career 83.3 FT% remains in the top-100 all-time: what was his secret for making FTs? I do not know about any secrets but he had good hand-eye coordination and practiced a lot. He was motivated and wanted to make himself into the best. He is highly intelligent: I remember our AD telling a story about Doug.  They were watching TV 1 summer and Doug would just keep predicting which players would be drafted by which team over and over: he got the entire 1st round correct!

In the 1989 Eastern Conference 1st round as coach of the Bulls, Michael Jordan made his famous series-winning shot at the buzzer in a 1-PT win at Cleveland in the decisive Game 5 (despite the Cavs winning the season series 6-0): how did he get along with Jordan, and where does that rank among the greatest wins of his career? 1 of my interns ended up becoming the PR guy for the Bulls and our broadcaster later became a broadcaster for the Bulls, so they would let me come in and see the games quite often. Doug is 1 of those guys who never forgets you, even after 20 years.

In the 2012 season Eastern Conference 1st round as coach of the 76ers, he led his team to an upset of the Bulls (the 5th time in NBA history that a #8-seed beat a #1-seed in playoffs): how did his hometown friends feel about him ruining their season?! I imagine they did not like it, but it is a business after all.

He later got into TV: what do you think of him as a broadcaster? I was really happy when he did that. He was such a celebrity as a senior that even I wanted to call him “Sir”! Every time we had a road game all the columnists in the area wanted to arrange an interview with him. I was updating our stats on a plane ride 1 day and Doug asked me if he could try to do it because he wanted to learn. He had a curious mind: he was interested in every facet of the game and you could see how analytical he was, which is why it is no surprise to me that he became an award-winning TV analyst.

When people look back on his career, how do you think he should be remembered the most? I remember him as the best player and as fine an alumni representative that any college could want. He represented us with class as both a player and alum and set a standard that is awfully hard for people to reach, not just as an athlete but also as a student. The court is now named for him so the school honors him in return.

The Hoops HD Report 2015-2016 Season Finale

Chad and the panel look back on what was a boring, yet amazing, Final Four, and a championship game that was the complete opposite of boring.  The also look back on the entire 2015-2016 season and discuss various topics such as the rules changes and the impact that they played, the pivotal games from early in the year that help shaped the season, how more out of conference showcase match ups could help the game, and of course, they pay tribute to this year’s Team of the People, the Grand Canyon Antelopes.  All that, and much more…

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show…..

Hoops HD State of the Game 2016

This was recorded just hours before the 2016 Championship Game.  At the time we recorded it, we had no idea that we were two hours away from witnessing an absolute classic.

Galen Clavio is back as he hosts David, Chad, and special guest and college basketball expert ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.  They attempt to address, and solve, all of the issues facing college basketball!!

Topics include the current selection process, a critique of how the committee seems to  presently be evaluating the teams and how it differs from a few years back, out of conference scheduling and how teams playing bigger games and local rivals would be good for both college basketball and the teams themselves, the lack of interest early in the season, how Under the Radar teams are at a disadvantage because they don’t have enough chances to make a strong case for themselves, what can be done to open up more bids, how the power conference teams may not want anymore opportunities for the smaller leagues, and much more…..

 

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show…..