The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 12, 2010

HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins, Wooden take different paths to victory No. 664

MORGANTOWN — There is going to come a time when college basketball is going to have to wrestle with an interesting situation — whether or not to induct Bob Huggins into the Hall of Fame.

It is a dilemma, you see, for his record far exceeds his reputation, which has taken more than a few hits over the years. The reason this becomes an issue on the night his West Virginia basketball team finally entered the Big East Tournament, playing their first game long after both Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun and their Hall of Fame resumes had been sent packing, is what Huggins accomplished on this night.

When his Mountaineers had finished delivering a knockout blow to his former team, Cincinnati, in Madison Square Garden, just as Joe Frazier had beaten Muhammad Ali in their classic “Fight of the Century” 39 years and three days earlier, Huggins was in possession of his 664th career victory.

That tied Huggins for 30th place on the all-time list (21st place in Division I), but more intriguing than the fact that he moved into a tie for that spot is with whom he now shares 30th and 21st place.

He shares it with the man many believe to be the greatest college basketball coach of all-time — John Wooden.

Wooden, of course, built the UCLA dynasty that won 10 national titles in the 1960s and 1970s, once compiling a winning streak of 88 consecutive games.

In many ways, Wooden is the ying and Huggins the yang of college basketball, so different are the two men, yet so much the same in their intense desire to win.

It was the great Jim Murray, the Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist from the Los Angeles Times, who once described Wooden as being “so square he was divisible by four.”

In a portrait of the man, Murray wrote:

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