Feb. 23, 2010
LOS ANGELES -
Four In A Row ...
As John Wooden's UCLA men's basketball team entered the 1969-70 season, the Bruins had won a total of five NCAA Championships (1964-65-67-68-69) in the last six years (1964-69), including three in a row from 1967-69. During those three consecutive national title seasons, UCLA was led by some of the greatest players in college basketball history - center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor/1967-69), guards Michael Warren (1966-68) and Lucius Allen (1967-68), forward Lynn Shackelford (1967-69) and forward/guard Ken Heitz (1967-69).
But with three senior starters (Abdul-Jabbar, Shackelford, Heitz) gone from the 1969 NCAA Championship team, UCLA returned only two starters for the 1969-70 season - 6-2 1/2 senior guard and team captain John Vallely and 6-6 1/2 junior forward Curtis Rowe. Underclassmen would fill the other three starting positions to help lead the Bruins to their fourth consecutive NCAA Championship (1967-70) and sixth in the last seven years (1964-65-67-68-69-70) - 6-1 sophomore guard Henry Bibby, 6-9 junior center, the late Steve Patterson and 6-8 junior forward Sidney Wicks.
Before the season started, UCLA was ranked No. 4 in the nation, behind South Carolina, Kentucky and Coach Wooden's alma mater, Purdue. The Bruins opened the campaign with 21 consecutive wins (without a loss) and were ranked No. 1 in the nation. During that streak, UCLA scored over 100 points on seven occasions, including a 133-84 win over "Pistol" Pete Maravich's Louisiana State Tigers in Pauley Pavilion (12/13/69). At the time, UCLA's 133 points was a school single-game team record. In the game, Maravich scored 38 points, but made only 14 of 42 shots and committed 18 turnovers. The Bruins countered with all five starters scoring in double figures, led by Rowe and Wicks' 23 points.
Following the 21-game win streak, UCLA would then lose two of its next four contests, including an 87-86 loss to archrival USC on March 6. At the time, it was only the second loss ever for the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion (in 1969, USC upset UCLA 46-44 in UCLA's first loss in Pauley Pavilion).
UCLA, the 1970 Pacific-8 champions with a 12-2 conference record, entered the NCAA Tournament with a 24-2 overall record and a No. 2 national ranking behind No. 1 Kentucky. UCLA won the West Region in Seattle, WA, with wins over Long Beach State 88-65, snapping its 19-game winning streak, and Utah State 101-79. In the win over Jerry Tarkanian's 49ers, all five Bruin starters scored in double figures - led by Wicks (11 rebounds) and Bibby's game-high tying 20 points, Rowe's 15 points and 11 rebounds and Patterson's 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. In the victory over Utah State, four of five Bruin starters scored in double figures, paced by Wicks and Rowe each contributing a team-high 26 points and Rowe adding a game-best 16 rebounds.
The 1970 NCAA Final Four was held at the University of Maryland in Cole Field House at College Park, MD. In an NCAA semifinal game vs. New Mexico State, UCLA's five starters again scored in double figures, as the Bruins defeated the Aggies 93-77. Vallely led the way with a game-high 23 points, followed by Wicks' 22 points and game-high tying 16 rebounds and Rowe's 15 points and 15 rebounds.
The Bruin win set the stage for the 1970 NCAA Championship game - 27-2 UCLA's speed vs. 27-1 Jacksonville's size, led by 7-2 center Artis Gilmore, 7-0 forward Pembrook Burrows III and 6-5 guard Rex Morgan. In their NCAA Tournament run, the Dolphins had beaten No. 1 Kentucky, 106-100 and in the other NCAA semifinal, defeated St. Bonaventure 91-83.
In the Championship game, an 80-69 Bruin victory in UCLA's 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament win, Wicks showed why he was one of the best forwards to ever play in college basketball. In the game, the 6-8 Wicks blocked five of the 7-2 Gilmore's shots, scored 17 points and brought down a game-high 18 rebounds. Wicks was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. Gilmore made only nine of 29 shots, scored just five points in the second half, and finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out at the 1:50 mark in the second half.
Once again, it was UCLA's team play that brought the Bruins back from a nine-point first half deficit (16-7) to the Dolphins in the Championship game. Rowe led UCLA with a game-high tying 19 points, Patterson had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Vallely added 15 points and five assists while holding Morgan to just 10 points. Rowe and Vallely were named to the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team.
At the end of the season, Wooden, 59, was named the National Coach of the Year, the fourth time (1964-67-69-70) in his Bruin career he earned the honor, by United Press International (UPI) and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Wicks was the Helms Athletic Foundation National co-Player of the Year (with LSU's Maravich), a consensus first-team All-America and the only unanimous first-team All-Pac-8 performer. Vallely and Rowe were Helms Athletic Foundation All-America and second-team All-League. Bibby was honorable mention All-Conference.
For the season, all five Bruin starters scored in double figures, led by Wicks' 18.6 points; two players averaged in double rebounding figures (Wicks 11.9/Patterson 10.0); three starters shot over .500 from the field (Rowe .554 (168-303)/Wicks .533 (221-415)/Bibby .501 (189-377) and Bibby shot .833 (90-108) from the foul line.
1969-70 UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball Team (28-2)
No. 24, Rick Betchley, G-F, 6-4 1/2, So., 1.5 ppg, 0.7 rpg
No. 45, Henry Bibby, G*, 6-1, So., 15.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg
No. 23, Kenny Booker, G-F, 6-3 1/2, Jr., 3.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg
No. 34, Jon Chapman, C, 6-6 1/2, So., 1.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg
No. 52, John Ecker, F, 6-6 1/2, Jr., 3.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg
No. 25, Andy Hill, G, 6-1, So., 1.8 ppg, 0.6 rpg
No. 32, Steve Patterson, C*(1), 6-9, Jr., 12.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg
No. 30, Curtis Rowe, F*, 6-6 1/2, Jr., 15.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg
No. 42, Terry Schofield, G, 6-3, Jr., 2.7 ppg, 0.8 rpg
No. 54, Bill Seibert, F, 6-6, Jr., 1.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg
No. 40, John Vallely, G*, 6-2 1/2, Sr., 16.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg
No. 35, Sidney Wicks, F*, 6-8, Jr., 18.6 ppg, 11.9 rpg
Head Coach: John Wooden
Assistants: Denny Crum and Gary Cunningham
Athletic Trainer: Elvin C. "Ducky" Drake (2)
Head Student Manager: George Morgan
(1) Deceased (July 28, 2004)
(2) Deceased ( Dec. 23, 1988)