Posted by: mdegeorge | February 27, 2011

Woodens provide a divine ending at Pauley Pavilion (VIDEO)

In a script beyond the capabilities of even the best writers in Hollywood just down the road, Pauley Pavilion closed to basketball before its renovation in the only way fitting: with the blessing of a Wooden.

The final basket in Saturday’s 71-49 drubbing of No. 10 Arizona by the Bruins came from Tyler Trapani, a three-year walk-on recording the first points of his career. His great-grandfather? None other than the man whose name adorns center court at Pauley: John Wooden.

Trapani, seldom-used even for the 13th man off the bench, found himself wide open under the basket in the waning seconds. As if by divine intervention, a missed three-pointer by Jack Haley Jr. fell into the waiting arms of number four, who put the ball back in for his first collegiate score and the final basket at Pauley before it is closed for renovations until 2012.

The moment brought tears to the eyes of the usually austere taskmaster, Ben Howland, a guy who earlier this season pulled his walk-ons off the court for allowing too many points in the waning seconds of a game, and sent the bench into paroxysms of joy. The monumental basket came with a bevy of Wooden family members in the crowd, including his son, Jim, and daughter, Nan, and was the cherry on top of the Bruins’ most impressive victory of the season.

It was an ending that could only be scripted by a man like Wooden himself, who dominated opponents at Pauley to the tune of a 149-2 record (most of the delirious crowd Saturday were inclined to push that record up one). It truly was at finish that, as the Los Angeles Times Bill Plaschke said, was “heaven-sent”.

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