Your coverage of the college basketball playoffs (March 19 et seq.) has been outstanding. And the quality of basketball being played is better than ever. It's really a shame that the college football moguls and the television networks can't also see the sense and advantages in a playoff system for the No. 1 spot in the No. 1 sport. Once again, we have an undisputed college basketball champion. And once again, we have a disputed college football champion (although Alabama should have been a shoo-in). Let's hope a change is forthcoming.
Regarding the NCAA basketball tournament, it just goes to show that a postseason playoff system is a damn poor way to select the national champion.
Davidson College may have given Tom Leifsen rides in a helicopter and in a Rolls-Royce, but the University of Pennsylvania gave him a ride into the final four of the NCAA tournament. The article by Marian Leifsen on the recruiting of her son (A House Divided, March 5) was great, and if this doesn't prove that Mother knows best, I don't know what will.
Congratulations on the absorbing article by Frank Deford on UCLA '64 (The Team of '64, March 26). As a basketball buff from way back, I often wonder what happened to the players on some of the super college teams.
April 9, 1979
I handled the publicity for the 1964 Olympic Basketball Trials at St. John's in New York, and we were all interested in the undefeated Bruins who tried out, but, alas, they were physically and mentally spent after their grueling regular-season and postseason play.
Many of us at the Trials felt that if only one UCLA player was to be selected by the committee, as turned out to be the case, it should have been young Gail Goodrich. However, the committee knew of the many contributions of Walt Hazzard over a three-year period, and he really earned his place on that Olympic team headed by Princeton's Bill Bradley.
I doubt if you could have uncovered a story more pulsating than the after-basketball adventures of those players who put UCLA on the map. Thanks.
C. ROBERT PAUL JR.
Director of Communications
U.S. Olympic Committee
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Many thanks for the retrospective on the '64 Bruins. Frank Deford's nostalgic walk through Westwood had just the right mix of wistfulness and fond memories. But tell Keith Erickson that he's wrong. I remember that '64 team. So do many others.
Thank you and Frank Deford for bringing back the memory: '64 was the year of the Forest Heights Junior High Eagles of Little Rock, Ark., too. I remember us well—not a starter over 5'11", low turnover rate, high shooting percentage and, yes, a suffocating full-court press that enabled us to win the state championship game by two points. See, when we took the court, we became the UCLA Bruins, our idols. My name might as well have been Erickson or Hirsch or Goodrich.
Your article was great. I read it with goose bumps and a lump in my throat. Memories of championships are one of life's pleasures.
In 1964 I was a junior in high school. Reading Frank Deford's article was like looking through my yearbook or attending my 15th-year class reunion. Just as it is nice to hear that my classmates are doing well, it is good to read that the Bruins of '64 are also fine.
I wonder, what with the pressures of big-time college athletics today and the big-dollar wonderland of the pros, if such a happy ending would befall more recent championship teams. Times have changed since 1964 and so, it is sad to say, have the athletes playing the college game.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
The article pointed out the true meaning of athletics. The attitudes of these men serve as a positive reflection not only on themselves, but also on their coach, John Wooden.
Is it by mere chance that Jack Hirsch, the maverick of the '64 Bruins, now calls John Wooden "Mr." instead of "J.W."? I doubt it. The Wizard of Westwood has no peers—and not just because he won 10 NCAA titles.
DR. J AND THE SIXERS
It is ironic that in the same issue with a story on the '64 Bruins you include one on Julius Erving (Hey, What's Up with the Doc? March 26). The Bruins were an extremely well-coached team and played team offense and team defense with definite roles for the players and with definite game strategies. The 76ers, on the other hand, seem to be coached according to the talent-will-conquer-all philosophy, with no role definition for the players or any game plan for any given opponent. If the Sixers were coached—and played—more like the '64 Bruins instead of an NBA all-star squad, then Fitz Dixon's and Philadelphia's dreams of a dynasty would become reality. There's nothing wrong with the Doctor's game that a well-coached team wouldn't cure.
KERRY H. SAHMS
The picture drawn of San Diego's sports mascot in SCORECARD (March 26) was not entirely accurate. Anyone who would refer to the KGB Chicken as "Chicken Man" in San Diego would be tarred, feathered and run out of town. The thought of the Chicken being "inspired by Sesame Street's Big Bird" is equally revolting to San Diego fans. Nor is the Chicken's appeal "non-threatening," as is that of his imitators. In fact, it is his readiness to get cocky with opposing players and flash his feathers at unappreciated officials that makes him popular. Originality is just one of the qualities that make the Chicken the favorite figure in San Diego.
La Jolla, Calif.
CARTER AND WETZEL
In her article Carter's Little Thrills (March 5), Nancy Williamson writes that Fred Carter was the first ex-NBA player hired to direct a women's basketball program. My brother, John Wetzel, who is now coaching the Washington Lumberjacks in the WBA and who played in the NBA from 1967 to 1976 (L.A., Phoenix, Atlanta) preceded Carter in that distinction by a couple of years. He was head coach of the women's program at Virginia Tech during the 1976-77 season.
NOT THAT FAST
Does the New England Patriots' Bucko Kilroy, or anyone else, really believe that Kirk Gibson or any other professional football or baseball player really runs 40 yards in 4.2 seconds (Wood Bats Drive Him Bats, March 26)? I am sick of hearing NFL propagandists and gullible TV commentators constantly make such patently absurd claims. That they are ridiculous is clearly illustrated by a report in Track & Field News, March 1979, page 40. In a "You Gotta Be a Football Hero" 60-yard dash in Los Angeles, Curtis Dickey, Johnny Lam Jones and James Owens—world-class sprinters as well as football players—were timed in 6.29, 6.32 and 6.35, respectively. This means, says Track & Field News Editor Bert Nelson, that Dickey, the winner, would have passed the 40-yard mark in about 4.7 seconds—"in track gear, with spikes, from blocks, against very fast opposition, and in a highly competitive situation."
In response to your response to Alan Rosen's letter (March 26) about Ron Patimkin's statement, "The Yankees took two." in Philip Roth's short novel Goodbye, Columbus, you were almost right. Big Ron did love the Yankees, not the Red Sox. And. yes, he did splash up to sister Brenda to exult over a Yankee doubleheader sweep. But no, it was not the Joe DiMaggio-led Yankees that thrilled Ron. As Brenda explained to boyfriend Neil Klugman, "When the Yankees win, we set an extra place for Mickey Mantle." At the time of Roth's novel, 1959, Joe D. was no longer leading the Yankees, having been retired for eight years.
JOHN R. MILLS
Royal Oak, Mich.
BLACK AND BLUE
What makes you think that you have the right to editorialize a team right out of the NHL (SCORECARD, March 19)? As a 10-year season-ticket holder of the St. Louis Blues. I can assure you that the game has been "going over" here. Since the 1967 NHL expansion, what team has done more to consistently bring out dedicated, disciplined and courteous fans?
Granted, attendance has fallen off as a result of the Blues' record the last four years, but a team's success can run in cycles and is related to management philosophy. The Ralston Purina Company and President Emile Francis have taken the necessary steps (in only two years) to rebuild fan interest and a winning team. And how many other NHL teams have ever averaged more than 15,000 fans per game for six straight years?
Go ahead and take your shots at Colorado, Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago, but give the management in St. Louis credit for attempting to turn things around.
DOUGLAS G. MILLER
In the best of all possible worlds, the NHL would not get out of Chicago, as you suggest, but would see to it that the city is represented once again by a major league team.
Since the Black Hawks allowed Bobby Hull to leave in 1972, there has been a steady decline in the team's performance. However, with the Hawks playing in a gerrymandered division, with the likes of St. Louis, Colorado and Vancouver, management has had little incentive to obtain superior players.
So it is that the Black Hawks sleepwalk to a division title and then fall flat on their faces in the playoffs; their current string of 12 consecutive defeats in Stanley Cup play is a record.
It is a tribute to the intelligence of Chicago hockey fans that they now stay away from the stadium that once attracted 20,000 and more for home games. Until such time as the Black Hawks are competitive, the fans will continue to stay away.
JOHN JAY WILHEIM
Battle Creek, Mich.
LOCK HAVEN WRESTLER
The FACES IN THE CROWD item on Anthony Calderaio of Boca Raton, Fla. (March 5) says he became "the first schoolboy [wrestler] in the country to go undefeated in dual matches for four consecutive years in four different weight classes."
This is to call your attention to an earlier schoolboy who wrestled in four different weight classes and went undefeated not only in all of his dual matches, but also in four years of tournament competition.
In 1958, Mike Johnson, then a Lock Haven (Pa.) High School freshman, went undefeated all the way to the 95-pound state championship. The next year, while competing at 103 pounds, he again went undefeated and won his second state title. In 1960, he moved up to 112 pounds and repeated the feat, winning a third state championship. And as a senior in 1961, Mike wrestled at 120 pounds and was one of four Lock Haven wrestlers to win a state crown, again going undefeated the entire season.
Mike concluded his high school career with a record of 84 wins, no losses, no ties and very few close matches. So dominant was he that in his four years of competition he was never even taken down. His overall achievements would be considered no small feat anywhere, but they were especially impressive in one of the top wrestling states in the nation. Now the head wrestling coach at Du Bois (Pa.) High School. Mike Johnson is remembered by all Pennsylvania wrestling fans as one of the greatest they ever had the pleasure to watch.
PAUL M. TAYLOR
Downtown Mat Club
Lock Haven, Pa.
Jerry Maurey, who wrestled at Clearfield (Pa.) High School, was undefeated at 112 pounds in 1947, at 120 pounds in 1948, at 127 pounds in 1949 and at 138 pounds in 1950. He had 67 consecutive wins, and he was the state champion in all four of those weights.
LAWRENCE T. MALONI
Concerning Frank Deford's review of unbearable variations on The Bad News Bears (MOVIES, March 26), I'm glad someone has finally blown the whistle on such stuff and nonsense. Right on, Frank!
My advice to Frank Deford is to stick to sports writing and forget about being a movie critic. I, for one, thought Ice Castles was great!
As one whose primary means of transportation is a "clunky, fat, lovable balloon-tire bicycle," I appreciated Lowell Cohn's recent article (NOSTALGIA, March 12). I've had my bike, which I bought secondhand, for some 28 years. The odometer reads 7,500, with many more miles unrecorded, and I had just put my last unused tire in service the day before I read the article. My bike works fine for carrying home the groceries and you can't beat the gas mileage, but a set of tires does well to last 1,000 miles.
DENNIS J. HOPPER
A few years ago I rebelled against racing handlebars and put uprights on my 10-speed Motobecane. Not only can I now see something besides the roadway but also my arms are able to share the work with my legs, so that hill climbing is easier. I strongly urge non-racers who like everything about 10-speeds except the handlebars to ignore the spurious arguments for racing handlebars and install the common-sense variety.
HERBERT W. YOUNG
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