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Basketball legend Bill Walton comes to campus

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Bill Walton, speaking on Feb. 13, 2013, at the University of Washington

Few speakers are more qualified to talk about overcoming obstacles and perseverance than basketball legend Bill Walton. He played an integral part on three of the sport’s most celebrated teams while battling a steady barrage of knee and foot injuries. He later overcame a stutter and established a post-playing career as a color commentator. Most recently, he recovered from a debilitating back injury and returned to both broadcasting and public speaking.

So it’s no surprise that basketball was only one of the myriad topics Walton discussed during his visit to the University of Washington last week.

The event was part of the nine-week Walton on Wheels Tour, which featured the basketball legend speaking at Pac-12 schools by day and broadcasting Pac-12 basketball games by night. He arrived on campus to promote–and call–that night’s game between the Huskies and Oregon Ducks.

Walton had plenty of material to draw from during the event. He first rose to national fame as a member of the legendary UCLA basketball team coached by John Wooden; Walton was part of the UCLA team that won 88 consecutive games. He was then taken as the number one overall draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1974 NBA Draft and helped lead the franchise to its only NBA title in 1977. Injuries derailed a promising career, but Walton stayed close to the game by becoming a color commentator after retiring.

Walton has since gained acclaim for his positive demeanor, rambling nature, and love of life. It was all on display last week as Walton discussed that evening’s game, his career, his mentors, and the importance of a positive attitude. Here, edited for space and clarity, are a few of Walton’s thoughts:

Walton spoke glowingly about his college coach, John Wooden:

“When you think about what John Wooden taught, he taught us how to think, how to use that library, how to use that smartphone, how to drink deeply from all sources of knowledge. He taught us how to dream, and he taught us how to compete.”

Walton spoke about his heroes, including Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., and Bill Russell:

“They lived, they played with passion and purpose. Their life was not about stuff. Their life was not about material accumulation and physical gratification. They were the antithesis of selfishness and greed. If you think of all the problems that we have in whatever it is that we’re facing, it all comes back to selfishness and greed.”

Walton used basketball as a metaphor for life:

“Everybody’s involved. In basketball, you only have to wait for the opening tip. And then there are endless possibilities to make a positive contribution. The same way when you guys get out of bed and put your feet on the floor, you gotta know in your mind, ‘Today, I’m gonna do so many fantastic things that, by the time I get back here to this bed, I’m going to be so tired. I’m gonna win some, I’m gonna lose some, but I’m gonna chase it down. I’m going to build my life, and I’m gonna try to make other people’s lives better.’”

Walton also joked about his reputation as a boisterous, scattershot speaker:

“My wife, she always tells me that my mind is like a slot machine, where the wheels are turning all the time. You never know where it’s going to end up.”

Walton closed by calling on those in attendance to make a difference in the world:

“Make a difference. Walk like a giant in the land. This DOES matter. Come on, hold people to higher standards. If you don’t like what you see, say something! What are they gonna say? ‘You’re wrong?’ You’re not wrong for what you think. You’re entitled to your own beliefs. Come on, let’s go! Get in the game of life. Build it! Build more libraries! Chase it down! Write more books! Stand up there, bring our troops home, let’s go.”

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Huskies in the NBA

Brandon Roy

The NBA tipped off earlier this week, and more than a half a dozen former Huskies are suiting up this season. How are your favorite UW players doing early on?

Quincy Pondexter (’10)

The guard is beginning his third season in the NBA and his second with the Memphis Grizzlies. Pondexter had two steals, three assists and one turnover on Wednesday, but the Grizzlies lost to the L.A. Clippers, 101-92.

Nate Robinson

The energetic point guard, now in his eighth season in the NBA, signed with the Chicago Bulls this off-season. He scored seven points in his Chicago debut, to go along with five rebounds, one assist and three turnovers. The Bulls defeated the Sacramento Kings 93-87 on Wednesday.

Isaiah Thomas (’12)

The 5’9” point guard, drafted in 2011 by the Sacramento Kings, surprised pundits and fans alike when he earned a starting role last season. He had a strong rookie campaign but struggled in his season-opener against Chicago on Wednesday, notching 10 points, one assist and three turnovers in a 93-87 loss.

Spencer Hawes

The sixth-year center, fresh from re-signing with the Philadelphia 76ers this off-season, keyed an opening-night 84-75 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The smooth-shooting Hawes finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, three steals, five blocks and three turnovers in the win.

Terrence Ross

The rookie shooting guard, taken eighth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors, finished with no points and one rebound in his debut on Wednesday. Ross played 6:24 of a 90-88 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Tony Wroten

Wroten, along with Terrence Ross, led the UW to the best record in the Pac-12 last season. He declared for the NBA draft and was taken 25th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies, who lost to the Clippers, 101-92, on Wednesday. Wroten didn’t play.

Will Conroy (’05) and Brandon Roy

The former UW teammates are reunited this season on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota has yet to play so far but will kick off its season Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

Roy will return to the NBA after a season away. The former Portland Trail Blazer retired after the 2011 season because of a degenerative condition in his knees, but he signed with Minnesota this off-season. Conroy, meanwhile, played sparingly with the Clippers and Grizzlies in 2006-2007, and the Houston Rockets in 2009-2010.

Which Huskies are you keeping an eye on as the season gets underway? Let us know in the comments!

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Isaiah Thomas leaving UW early for the NBA Draft

Isaiah Thomas leaving UW for NBA Draft

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now, but Washington’s talented point guard Isaiah Thomas is putting his name into the 2011 NBA Draft. The junior from Tacoma is not hiring an agent right away, but he assured reporters at a 1 p.m. press conference that he is, indeed, gone for good.

From all of us at the UW Alumni Association—thank you, Isaiah, and good luck!

A local star from Curtis High School, Thomas stayed close to home and led the Huskies to their first outright Pac-10 title in 56 years as a freshman (pictured above). Last year, he helped Washington reach the Sweet 16, and this season he guided the Dawgs to their second-straight Pac-10 tournament title and a win over Georgia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

This kid bleeds Washington, and we wish him the very best in the NBA.

For more on Isaiah Thomas:

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VIDEO: Watch Bob Rondeau’s home radio call of Isaiah Thomas’ buzzer-beater

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First things first, how about those Huskies?!

Washington’s dramatic 77-75 win over Arizona in the Pac-10 Tournament title game sent the UW to the Big Dance. Star point guard Isaiah Thomas drained a game-winner at the buzzer that instantly goes down as one of the biggest shots in Husky history. Listen to legendary play-by-play man Bob Rondeau make the call in the video above.

On Friday, March 18, the Huskies will tip off against Georgia in the NCAA Tournament’s East Regional. We’re a No. 7 seed. Georgia’s a No. 10 seed. Both schools go by the nickname “Dawgs” … it’s going to be a, well, you know what kind of fight it will be.

If you’re not in Seattle, visit our viewing party page to see if there’s a gathering in your area. There’s nothing better than watching Husky hoops with friends wearing purple and gold. Go Dawgs!

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Husky football in the Heart of Dixie

Jake Locker at the Senior Bowl.
Jake Locker and Mason Foster are in Mobile, Ala., this week for the Senior Bowl, a prestigious college football all-star game held in the Heart of Dixie (that’s Alabama) since 1951.

I used to live in Mobile and covered high school and college sports for the newspaper there, the Press-Register. I took the job straight out of college and spent three years living on the Gulf of Mexico in the Deep South, where football is king by a mile. I covered three Senior Bowls and met lots of future stars, including Seahawks quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who was just out of Clemson at the time.

With our players in Mobile for the week, it reminded me of my favorite Husky football moment from down South. Here is a column I wrote for the paper in 2006 about the best day I ever wore purple:

In three years as a Baldwin County sports reporter, there’s only one story I regret not putting on paper. 

It’s the story of a Washington Husky all alone in the Heart of Dixie. It’s the tale of two heated rivals sharing Jell-O shots in a foreign land, all the while talking enough trash to fill a Rocky Top-sized garbage can.

Auburn-Washington State. Yes, the Cougars were coming to town.

Read more…

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A history of UW logos – Which is your favorite?

University of Washington logos

For Huskies, the University of Washington means many things. To the majority of people outside the UW community, the school is an image—a purple block W.  

When people look at the logo, no matter where they are, they don’t just see the logo. They see their personal experiences with the university, and their impressions are based on media and other sources. They see the UW’s reputation.  

With its logo, mascot and color scheme, the UW has always tried to represent the students, the school and the ideals held here. The brand’s evolution has taken some unusual twists and turns but has endlessly inspired students and alumni alike. Let’s open the history books and look back at nearly a century of UW logos.  

First, some interesting notes:  

  • Until 1919, the UW did not have a mascot and used only the block W. But as other schools adopted mascots across the nation, Columns reported, student leaders realized that Washington needed an icon.
  • The nickname “Sun Dodgers” was used until the UW switched to Huskies in 1922. Wanting to move away from Sun Dodgers, university officials decided to go with Vikings but students immediately protested and the school settled on Huskies a few months later.
  • It wasn’t until 1984 that the UW agreed it needed a clear identity and moved to adopt a consistent logo and color scheme. Before that, more than 550 licensees were authorized to use either the block W or Husky logos, and the result was a mishmash of UW imagery.

    University of Washington logo 1919

    Sunny Boy statue at Husky Hall of Fame.

Our story begins with a drawing in the Sept. 1919 issue of the on-campus magazine, Sun Dodger, in which a staff artist depicted a fictional UW student named “Sunny Boy,” a smiling freshman wearing a huge bow tie and carrying an umbrella (right). Despite the initial protests of magazine staff, the name “Sun Dodgers” stuck with the local press and Sunny Boy grew in popularity. Eventually, students commissioned a 3-foot-tall wooden statue in his likeness and carried it to the away football games. See the video from the Husky Hall of Fame.

An article in the Washington Alumnus, which later became Columns magazine, noted the Husky is “a symbol of willingness, courage, endurance, strength and fight.” After settling on the new name, university officials were most excited to use a live dog as an on-the-field mascot, and felt the name Huskies “suggests the idea that Washington is the most northern American university on the Pacific Coast.” A nod to our neighbors to the north, eh?

Read more…

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The Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961 – Fifty years later

Cal-Tech's Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961Fifty years ago, a group of pesky Cal-Tech students hijacked the University of Washington’s halftime “flip-card” stunt in a Rose Bowl prank for the ages.

The Los Angeles Times tells the story of Lyn Hardy, the ringleader behind one of the greatest college football stunts of all time. UW fans on one side of the stadium were given flip cards that were supposed to spell out “WASHINGTON” but instead read “CALTECH.” It’s a marvelous tale, and you can read the full story here.

Hardy, now 69, says he learned how the stunt worked from UW cheerleaders. Upon learning the Husky Marching Band and Cheer Squad were staying at Long Beach State dormitories, Hardy—a Cal-Tech junior at the time—posed as a reporter for the Dorsey High student newspaper and walked right in. When everyone left for dinner, Hardy and another of Cal-Tech’s legendary “Fiendish 14″ swiped a card-stunt instruction book and headed back to Pasadena, where they made some 2,400 copies.

Jack Briggs
, Washington’s 1961 student body president, said at the time that the prank was “not in the best of taste.” Fifty years later, though, it’s still a classic.

Of course, Washington beat top-ranked Minnesota that day 17-7.

Enjoy this week’s Dawg Treats:

  • UW alum Nick Handy is departing his post as Washington’s state elections director after leading widely praised reform efforts that have boosted voter turnout.
  • A study by UW researcher Daryl Haggard explores the future of the Milky Way’s central black hole.
  • UW students win $40,000 to help make water safe to drink.
  • Former UW President Mark Emmert, now the head of the NCAA, is profiled in this piece by the New York Times. The story focuses on overseeing integrity and the threat of income in college sports.

    Read more…

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Husky Holiday Bowl Blog – Dawgs win 19-7!


Live from sunny San Diego, it’s the Husky Holiday Bowl show!

Well, at least it feels that way. Washington just scored a 19-7 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers and I have to admit… this is awesome! There’s nothing better if you’re a Husky football fan than winning a bowl game, and this was a stellar performance for our squad. Congratulations to coach Steve Sarkisian and his team. We love you guys and we are proud of you.

So proud to be a UW alum. Go Dawgs!

Game Day – Thursday, Dec. 30

Holiday Bowl, 10:14 p.m.
This game is in the book and the Washington Huskies have won the 2010 Holiday Bowl 19-7. One of the most impressive defensive performances in
Husky history, the Dawgs dominated Nebraska from start to finish and held one of the nation’s best offenses to just 7 points and 184 yards of total offense. This was some 1990-ish Husky defense. Big hits. Hard knocks. Everything you could ask for in a defensive effort. It was so exciting to be in the stadium for the game, and watching the team celebrate its victory afterwards was priceless. Steve Sarkisian truly has done wonders with this program, and that had to have been the best Gatorade bath he’s ever had. During the trophy presentation, he called us the “best fans in America.” I have to agree. Thanks to all of you for a great season. Go Dawgs, and let’s enjoy this victory!

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