(4) Pete Newell
NBA Exclusive: Interview With Legendary Coach Pete Newell (via bballbreakdown)
NorCalNick gives up the scoop on Coach Newell:
What I know about Pete Newell is likely very similar to what you know about him. He’s a legendary head coach, universally regarded as one of the great innovators. Bob Knight thinks he’s the greatest. John Wooden couldn’t take over the conference until he left. He won a national title and his team took down Oscar Robertson. He won an Olympic medal with Oscar Roberson. He became known as a big man guru and introduced the reverse action offense. Perhaps most importantly, the iconic picture of him nervously chewing a towel doubles as an iconic visual metaphor for Cal fans.
Unfortunately, that picture hints at a problem: Newell retired from coaching at the age of 45 due to stress, leading to a gigantic ‘what-if.’ It’s hardly unusual for respected coaches to keep going well into their 60s or 70s. If Newell had stayed active, would Cal basketball have fallen into a 50 year wilderness of only occasional relevancy? Would John Wooden be the same Wooden? Perhaps Cal would be the west coast blue blood.
In any case, Newell compiled a record of 119-44 while at Cal, then became Cal’s athletic director until 1968. I can’t begin to vouch for his abilities as an administrator, although I doubt anybody would look back at the 60s as a golden era for Cal sports. Considering the climate on campus at the time, perhaps there wasn’t much anybody could do.
If the CGB hall of fame were identical to the Cal hall of fame, Pete Newell would be a charter member as perhaps the best (and most influential) coach in school history, in any sport. Alas, few if any of us were able to witness Newell’s teams in action. Will his legendary reputation be enough to earn him your vote?
(13) Tyson Alualu
Tyson Alualu 2009 highlights (via HANDSOMElifeOFswing)
Tyson Alualu had a solid career as a defensive lineman at Cal, playing in all 52 possible games of his Cal career (starting 40 of them). He was the anchor of Cal's defensive line in 2009 in particular, providing heart, soul, and a nonstop motor. Alualu's Cal career and talent was rewarded when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
In Remembering the Seniors, Hydro recalls his personal memories of Tyson.
While working for the team, I often worked with the defensive line. On one sunny day, some of the more senior defensive linemen were having a little chit chat between drills. Coach Delgado was firmly shouting out orders to players currently in the drill, and Abu Ma'afala, Nu'u Tafisi, and Mika Kane had just popped out of the drill. They had been talking about who among the defensive linemen, will become either really really good or become an NFL player. Between labored breathes, and with eyes fixed afar in thought, they pondered their nearby comrades in blue practice shirts and shorts.
Somebody mentioned a few people, and those names didn't really garner much response from the others. But then somebody, and I think it was Abu, suggested Tyson Alualu. I think he said something like, "I think Tyson has a good chance." The others immediately agreed with "yeah, Tyson." It was unanimous. The others weren't agreeing to agree, they were agreeing because they really believed Tyson Alualu would be the next great one.
Tyson wasn't there at the moment. I think he was in the drill itself. He didn't hear those words, but I did and stored that memory away for today.
I've written about this before, but for those of you who have ever done something enough to know what it takes to be good at that something, you know you can judge the talent and potential of others at becoming good at that same task. For example, and I'll use myself, I grew up playing a musical instrument. I turned out to be decent enough to make a few honor bands. I knew who was good, and who wasn't. I knew who had potential to be a pro, and who didn't. Those experiences I had helped me judge others, and that's exactly what was going on in the conversation between Tafisi, Ma'fala, and Kane.
Upon hearing those words, I made a distinct effort to keep an eye on Alualu from then on. I'd be stupid not to since his teammates pegged him as the one of the next greatest ones.
This story I am relaying to you occurred in 2006. Tyson Alualu was a freshman in 2006. The elder defensive linemen picked him out as a freshman. They could see the talent and potential that early. It was that obvious.