Thursday, September 13, 2007

No Game Marking GOTC's 40th Anniversary on UH, UCLA Schedules

UCLA and the University of Houston have each released their 2007-08 men's basketball schedules (Bruins, Cougars). Fans who had been hoping for a UCLA-Houston game on (or around) January 20, 2008 to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Game of the Century between the schools -- and I very much count myself in this group -- will be disappointed to find that no such game will take place.

This development is not a surprise, of course. As far back as December 2005, UH coach Tom Penders began to pursue a renewal of competition against UCLA, but Bruin coach Ben Howland did not reciprocate.

In the nearly three years I've operated this blog, it has become clear to me that -- consistent with the Penders-Howland episode -- the Game of the Century has been embraced much more heartily by the UH fan community than by its UCLA counterpart.

Houston has a home game on January 19, 2008, versus the University of Texas, El Paso; this is the closest date on the Cougar schedule to January 20. I'll be interested to see if the UH athletic department schedules some type of GOTC commemoration for this day.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Coach Lewis Elected to COLLEGIATE Basketball Hall of Fame

Former University of Houston coach Guy V. Lewis, whose Cougars defeated UCLA in the Game of the Century, has just been elected to the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Missouri.

It is important to point out that the Collegiate hall is a relatively new creation, and is not the same thing as the long-established Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. The latter covers both college and professional ball.

Lewis's exclusion from the "big" Hall of Fame has outraged many, including legions of UH fans and a number of the game's top college coaches (you can count the present blogger among those who are miffed, too).


I got to see the HBO documentary on The UCLA Dynasty (cited in the entry below). There is a brief, though worthwhile, segment on the Game of the Century.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

HBO Documentary: "The UCLA Dynasty"

Airing on HBO this week is a documentary entitled The UCLA Dynasty (link for information). I haven't seen the film. Given that Eddie Einhorn and Elvin Hayes are listed among the interviewees, I would think the UCLA at Houston "Game of the Century" would receive some nice coverage, but I can't say so definitively at this point. HBO seems to sell DVD's of many of its sports documentaries, so it would seem likely a UCLA Dynasty DVD will become available.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

UCLA Holds 40-Year Reunion of 1966-67 Squad (Includes Many Who Played in GOTC)

UCLA's 1966-67 team held a 40-year reunion yesterday in conjunction with the current Bruin team's final home game of the season, against Stanford. The UCLA-Houston Game of the Century took place the season after the '66-67 campaign (on January 20, 1968, to be exact). However, with the '66-67 Bruins' starting lineup consisting of four sophomores and a junior, it was essentially the same UCLA squad that took on UH in the Astrodome a year later. This page from the UCLA athletics site is devoted to the reunion of the '66-67 team; from it, you can also click for a gallery of still photos and a video of the halftime ceremony. Gathering with their coach John Wooden, now 96 years old, were players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor), Lucius Allen, Lynn Shackelford, and Mike Warren.

I hope that next year, as close as possible to January 20, 2008, Houston will have a similar type of 40-year reunion for the Cougar team that won the Game of the Century.


Also yesterday, Game of the Century TV announcer Dick Enberg and I were under the same roof at Texas Tech's United Spirit Arena, as the Red Raiders hosted Oklahoma State in a game televised by CBS (see February 24 entry on this CBS list of announcer assignments). When UCLA and Houston met in their classic game at the Astrodome, Enberg was an up-and-coming 33-year-old broadcaster. Now 72, Enberg is an elder statesperson of the profession, still very much going strong.

I was hoping that I might be able to go up to Enberg at courtside after the game and perhaps get a picture with him for this website. However, he got away too quickly. Enberg writes in his memoir, appropriately entitled Oh My!, about a career of tight travel deadlines -- having to catch a plane or drive in a rental car to the next gig -- as he sometimes criss-crossed the country to announce three games within roughly 36 hours in the same weekend. He no longer packs that many games into his schedule, but he still knows how to get out of an arena right after the final buzzer!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

E-Mail from Vern Lewis

I received an e-mail the other day from Vern Lewis, a member of the University of Houston basketball team during the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons. This is the first time anyone who played in the Game of the Century has been in contact with me, and I thank Vern for that.

As shown in the box score at the end of this UH basketball retrospective, Vern played four minutes in the Astrodome showdown against UCLA. I just played the DVD of the game (described in my posting immediately below the present one) over again and saw that Vern was in at the close of the first half, but apparently did not play in the second half.

In his message, Vern mentioned his continued involvement in college basketball via the South Padre Island Hoops organization, which hosts a tournament during the non-conference part of the season. In 2005, tournament officials conducted a canned-food drive at the games for the benefit of those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Vern's name also comes up as part of Item 50 in this NCAA basketball trivia quiz.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

39th Anniversary of Game of the Century

Today is the 39th anniversary of the Houston-UCLA Game of the Century.

As detailed in earlier postings on this site, current UH Coach Tom Penders' hope for a 40th anniversary game next year (and a resumption of play between the schools more generally) had cold water tossed on it by UCLA Coach Ben Howland. I suppose there's still time for such a game to be scheduled for next year, but I've seen nothing to indicate it will happen.

As I've also discussed previously, what I would consider the definitive resource on the 1968 classic is Eddie Einhorn's book (written with Ron Rapoport) How March Became Madness. Released last year, the book consists of short chapters, each presenting an interview with a major figure in the modern history of college basketball. The book is not entirely on the Game of the Century but does have 10 chapters specifically devoted to it. Not only that -- the book comes with a DVD of the Game of the Century (actually, just the second half, plus the closing minutes of the first half).