Louisville Magazine

NOV 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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50 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.18 Griffith, who, with teammates Wiley Brown, Derek Smith and the McCray Brothers, became known as the Doctors of Dunk. And let's not forget Junior Bridgeman, Pervis Ellison, Milt Wagner and, hell, DeJuan Wheat. Crum compiled wins at a 70-percent clip for a total of 675, more than any other U of L men's basketball coach. (From 2001-2017, Rick Pitino totaled 416 wins at U of L before the NCAA, in the wake of scandal, stripped the school of 123 of those wins and its 2013 national championship, but we'll get to that.) Aside from four early-career years at Pierce College in Los Angeles, Crum was never head coach at any other place. I tell Crum that I relinquished my season tickets a few years after his exit when the preseason schedule was dumbed-down so much I could hardly find a home game I wanted to see before conference play began in January. "I gave my tickets to friends and other people," Crum says. "I didn't want to go watch somebody get beat by 50 points." Crum always brought out-of-conference powers to Freedom Hall. And fans benefitted from his ambitious scheduling. e Hall often rocked in November and December during the Crum era, in contrast to the scrimmage-level enthusiasm at many early-season Yum! Center games in recent memory. "I felt like the way to get our team to improve the most was to have them play against better competition," Crum says. "And we did that for 30 years. I think that's one of the things I'm proudest of. We scheduled the toughest schedule we could schedule. "I wasn't so concerned about the winning and the losing. All I cared about was we played somebody good enough to beat us. It doesn't hurt you to lose to Duke or North Carolina or Georgetown. It's OK. at's how you get better." As a passable pick-up basketball player in the 1980s and '90s, I often found my way to the standing noon drop-in game at the erstwhile Downtown Athletic Club. Situated in what was previously a YMCA building at ird and Broadway, the DAC drew a crowd of former area college and high school players, and guys like me who tried to run with them. Ex-U of L athletes Jerry King, Scooter McCray, Wiley Brown and Jerry Eaves, among others, came by for the action. e court was short and the lunch break long, up to two hours. One of the more amazing players on that scene was Phil Bond, a Cardinal point guard who played for Crum from 1973 to 1977 and held the career assist record at U of L for 14 years. He has been with Metro United Way since the mid-1980s and is now chief financial officer, but I know him as the affable guy at the DAC who looked like he'd lost a step and several inches of jumping ability but had such an uncanny awareness of his defenders that even men several inches taller and years younger could never block his go-to turnaround jump shot. When I call to get his reflections on Crum, Bond invites me to the University Club on U of L's campus. We sit in the first-floor dining room, down the stairs from where Crum kept an office after he was essentially forced to retire in 2001. Over lunch, Bond recalls a conversation he had with Crum in 1975, at the beginning of the school year following Louisville's dramatic one-point overtime loss to UCLA in the NCAA tournament semifinal. Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, who was Crum's coach and mentor when Crum attended the school in the '50s, announced his retirement immediately following that nail-biter. (Wooden capped his career with a 92- 85 win over Kentucky for the national championship.) "Coach told me he could've gone to UCLA to take Wooden's place, but he said he was going to stay in this community because he liked it so much," Bond says. Crum's openness with him went back even further, to when he was a Manual High student being recruited by both Crum at U of L and Joe B. Hall at the University of Kentucky. "When (Crum) recruited me, he said, 'If you think you'll settle down in Louisville, you should go to either U of L or UK.' at honesty really impressed me, him mentioning UK too," Bond says. During the spring of his sophomore year in high school, Crum was tapped by his school's coach to be in charge of the summer-league team. e juniors and seniors listened to him in part because he was the best shooter on the team, but also because he routinely rounded up all eight teammates in his father's pickup and drove them around the San Fernando Valley to four or five games a week during the "off-season." Crum went to junior college at Pierce for two years (averaging 27 points per game his first year), then became a guard for Wooden at UCLA. He averaged seven points per game there from 1957 to 1959. Crum became an assistant at UCLA from 1963 to 1971, and imported much of the Wooden way when he came to Louisville in 1971 — both in demeanor (nobody remembers him ever swearing at a player) and in strategy. He adopted Wooden's gentlemanly sideline posture and focus on perfecting his own team's skills, rather than reacting to opponents. As the assistant assigned to calling plays during UCLA timeouts, Crum honed the in-game play-calling skills that he would later become famous for. He also implemented a variation of Wooden's signature high-post offense at U of L. Bond calls it the "guard-cut offense," and before long he's drawing it up on my notepad. A few simple passes, cuts and screens opened up scoring options for teammates. "All of the teams knew we were running it," Bond says, "but if you have talented players they can't stop it." Bond pulls back from this reminiscence when I ask him if the same plays and skills taught by Crum in the 1970s and '80s apply in today's college game. He considers the question briefly. "e three- point line," he says of the 1986 addition, "neutralized the guard-cut offense; it still worked, but you only got two points for it. e game has changed so much." How much has the game changed since 10-time national champion John Wooden and his protégé who came to Louisville mastered it? at was one of the questions I hoped to ask new U of L men's basketball coach Chris Mack. But when I requested an interview to talk about the Crum legacy and U of L "And we did that for 30 years. I think that's one of the things I'm proudest of. We scheduled the toughest schedule we could schedule."

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