Monday, February 21, 2005

Guy V. Lewis Snubbed in This Year's Hall of Fame Balloting

Yesterday, this year's set of 16 finalists for possible induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame was announced. And, for whatever reason, former University of Houston Coach Guy V. Lewis was not among the finalists, despite his coaching five (count 'em five) final four teams. If you look at the list of coaches in the Hall of Fame, you'll find some who coached many years at the collegiate level and made not a single NCAA Division I final four.

The following document (brought to my attention by Jason Grimes) powerfully makes the case for Lewis to be enshrined. Dreaming up the idea for the Game of the Century, in which he ended up the winning coach, was just one of Lewis's many contributions to college basketball.

Monday, February 14, 2005

GOTC Photo Links

Among the suggestions I've received for this page, one is to provide links to photographs of the Game of the Century. I've been doing a lot of searching on the web and haven't found too much, but these four links are a start:

*The Sports Illustrated cover photo the week after the game (the issue is dated January 29, 1968).

*Panoramic picture of the Astrodome set-up for the UH-UCLA game. It must have seemed odd for the players, the way the basketball court was in the "middle of nowhere," with no seats added between the court and the permanent baseball/football stands. (Thanks to Jason Grimes for sending me the article containing the photo.)

*UCLA Bruins 1967-68 team picture. This photo is part of an excellent, larger website devoted to UCLA hoops, maintained by John Perry.

(If anyone knows where to locate an online 1967-68 UH team picture, please e-mail me the link; my e-mail address is listed in some of my previous postings.)

*A nice photograph essay on the construction and early years of the Astrodome.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Guy V. Lewis Interview from a Few Years Ago

I just came across a fairly in-depth interview former UH Coach Guy V. Lewis did with the Sporting News in 2002. Take a look!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Seeking First-Person Accounts of GOTC

In recent days, I've been trying to publicize this site by posting messages on what I think are relevant Internet discussion boards and e-mailing select individuals who I think might be interested. My message announcing the creation of the Game of the Century website received some nice comments on a Houston Cougars discussion board, but not a single response on the parallel message I posted on a UCLA board.

Among the comments posted on the UH board, one person noted that first-person accounts of the game by those who attended or watched live on television would be a nice addition. If anyone who saw the game live wants to compose something and e-mail it to me (, I'd be happy to post it. Until that happens, however, we'll need to rely on linking to first-person accounts that already exist on the web.

One such account I found is that of former (1957–1979, 1988-1994) UH Sports Information Director Ted Nance (the frequently used abbreviation for that position is S.I.D., but, as you'll see, the way the headline of the article is structured, it could easily give someone the impression his name is "Sid Nance").

The article with Nance's recollections characterizes him as having been "associated with the Cougars almost from the first day he set foot on campus in 1953."

Nance's recollections of the 1968 UH-UCLA game are pretty extensive, so I'll just provide some excerpts (the totality of Nance's reflections can be seen by clicking on the aforementioned link to the full article):

When asked about his most vivid memory of his nearly 40 years with the University, Nance is quick to respond, "It would be the Houston-UCLA basketball game. It was a game of national championship caliber, the largest crowd in history (52,693) and the first nationally televised game. It just had a different aura about the whole game. It was something special.

"I had bought 50 tickets to the game early on because I just knew people would be calling me for tickets at the last minute. And sure enough, everbody was calling. That's the best move I ever made.

"The game was back and forth, back and forth the whole way. Alcindor had an eye problem, but that was a great-built-in alibi for Johnny Wooden. I think Alcindor hit eight of 10 free throws, so it didn't affect him that much.

"What affected his shooting more than anything was that he had several shots blocked by Hayes. Hayes was just red hot. It wasn't so much a case of UCLA not being good, it was that Hayes had probably the career game of his life. I think he had something like 28 points at halftime. Everytime he did anything the crowd just roared."

Nance has been honored both by UH and by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Current UH Coach Penders Strongly Endorses Lewis for Hall of Fame

Virtually all of the recent publicity that former Houston Cougar Coach Guy V. Lewis has been receiving has been directed at getting him elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. I strongly support the contention that Lewis should be in the Hall.

Friday's edition of the UH student newspaper, the Daily Cougar, featured an interview with current UH Coach Tom Penders. Penders made the case for Lewis's induction as eloquently and as succinctly as I've heard anyone do it:

It's a total injustice. The man has twice the credentials of many of those who are already in there. The five Final Fours are mind boggling. The records, the pioneer that he was here, what he did for African-Americans here at the University of Houston, he's always been considered a class individual. He didn't have any NCAA violations. He did it the right way, didn't cut corners, and I know how his former players feel about him. There's just no explanation for it.

I can take another coach who's in the Hall and look at his record and his NCAA record, and they'll fall far short of coach Lewis'. Then I ask, "How can this guy be in there and coach Lewis not?" You've got to right the wrongs that have been done in the past. There are some guys that are in there -- and I'm not saying that they don't belong -- but if they're in there, then they should have an entire room for Guy Lewis, never mind just getting him in there.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Basketball in Huge Domed Stadiums

In trying to fulfill this site's goal of providing a compendium of interesting materials on the Houston-UCLA Game of the Century, I've been doing a lot of searching on the web.

I just found a Lexington (KY) Herald Leader article -- written in conjunction with the Dec. 13, 2003 Kentucky-Michigan State game that drew a college-basketball record 78,129 fans to Detroit's Ford Field -- in which John Wooden provided his perspective on playing basketball in a domed stadium.

The Herald Leader article featuring the Wooden interview is available here. Wooden is quite negative about the idea of playing basketball in such vast venues. Some may attribute this bitterness to the fact UCLA lost the game to Houston in 1968, a notion Wooden denies. Given Wooden's traditionalism, there's nothing surprising about his views on playing in domes. Here are some illustrative sections from the Herald Leader article:

"I didn't want to play there because I thought it'd make a farce of the game I love," Wooden said this week. "My A.D. (athletic director) was for it. He said there would be tremendous coverage. It'd be good for basketball."

[Note: The UCLA athletic director was J.D. Morgan.]

To Wooden's horror, the court was set up far from the crowd at the second base area of the Astrodome's baseball field.

"No place to play," he said. "Before the game, I facetiously told the players that if they had to go to the bathroom, do it now because the court is a quarter-mile from the locker room."

The Herald Leader article had at least one factual error, in describing the UH-UCLA game as a "Monday night telecast." A perpetual calendar clearly shows January 20, 1968 to have been a Saturday.

Another note: At the bottom of the article on the Kentucky-Michigan State game, there's a chart listing the top ten college basketball games in attendance. The 52,693 attendance figure for the Houston-UCLA game no longer ranks even in the top ten.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Where Are They Now?

I thought a good place to continue would be with brief "Where Are They Now?" summaries for several of the major actors in the Game of the Century.

As noted in my introductory posting, Guy V. Lewis, who coached the victorious Houston Cougars in the famous game, was the subject of a recent Fox Sports documentary. Lewis, born on March 18, 1922, will soon be celebrating his 83rd birthday (see this article mentioning his 76th birthday).

Lewis suffered a stroke in 2002. He was honored in a ceremony at UH's Hofheinz Pavilion in 2003 and also received an honorary doctorate from UH that year. According to the recent documentary, Lewis continues to visit Hofheinz.

John Wooden, the UCLA coach, still attends UCLA home games at age 94 (he was born October 14, 1910 according to this biographical sketch). As of 2001, when former Bruin player Andy Hill came out with his book Be Quick -- But Don't Hurry, Hill was taking Wooden out to breakfast once a month (whether this has continued to the present day, I don't know). There is a website called, which features his famous "Pyramid of Success."

Among the players that night in January of 1968, the star of the evening had to be UH center Elvin Hayes, who made the game-winning free throws. Born November 17, 1945, Hayes would thus now be 59 years old. After a successful pro career in which he helped lead the Washington Bullets to the NBA championship in the 1977-78 season, Hayes was voted to the Hall of Fame. He played two stints back in Houston with the Rockets, the latter one at the end of his career. In recent years, Hayes has owned an automobile dealership in Houston.

UCLA's center, of course, was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). The owner of six NBA championship rings (five with the Los Angeles Lakers and one with the Milwaukee Bucks) and the master of the "sky hook" shot, Adbul-Jabbar also entered the Hall of Fame after a long and illustrious career.

Now 57 years old (born April 16, 1947), Kareem has in recent years been writing books and doing commentary/analysis on basketball telecasts. He has made known his desire to coach, but so far has had no takers at the NBA or major college level.

Finally, there's Dick Enberg, the play-by-play announcer for the landmark telecast of the UH-UCLA Game of the Century. If you're a tennis fan, you would have heard Enberg in just the last week or so. Having just turned 70 (born January 9, 1935 according to this biographical sketch), the legendary Enberg covered his first Australian Open, for ESPN.

For the last 40 years, Enberg has made a major impact on both the Los Angeles and national sports scenes. While Enberg's switch to national broadcasting prevented him from having the longevity in L.A. of a Vin Scully or Chick Hearn, he made up for it with his ubiquity (announcing for the Angels, Rams, and UCLA basketball). I look forward to writing additional material on Enberg in future postings.

Likewise, I intend in future postings to profile additional players in the Game of the Century.