HARTFORD - Greg Wooden had to witness history in person. If not for himself, for his grandfather. The late great UCLA coach John Wooden, he said, would have been "absolutely thrilled" to see his Division I record of 88 straight games snapped by a women's team - especially by the women of UConn.
"He liked the way they passed the ball, the way they had quite a few stars that could've scored a lot more points on other teams but were willing to sacrifice for the best of the team," his grandson said. "And because of that, they're playing unbelievable basketball because they don't really care who gets the credit. They just want to win."
The Huskies won again last night, for the 89th straight time, pummeling Florida State, 93-62, at XL Center in Hartford. The win snapped Wooden's previous mark, set from 1971-74.
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma caught some flak this week when he called out the media for caring about UConn's record run only because "a bunch of women are threatening to break a men's record."
But Wooden's grandson considers the extra attention a positive. "I don't think he should have to defend the women's game," Greg Wooden said of Auriemma. "If John Wooden's 88-game streak is bringing more media out to see women's basketball, that should be a good thing."
John Wooden, who died June 4 at age 99, had grown more enamored with the women's game in the past decade, said Greg, 47. "He thought . . . the best basketball was played at the collegiate level - and it wasn't by the men," he said. "I kind of thought that somebody should have come back from the family and kind of shown support . . . I know my grandfather would have loved to have been here to see this."
Greg, who lives in Newport Beach, Calif., said this was the first women's basketball game he's seen in person. "But I picked a good one," he joked.
Greg Wooden said he was in the living room with his dad as his grandfather's streak came to an end against Notre Dame on Jan. 19, 1974. "I remember my dad throwing something as the game ended," he said with a laugh. "It was just kind of like, we weren't supposed to lose."