From now until the start of the 2015 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships, WCC columnist John Crumpacker will be profiling the WCC Hall of Honor Class of 2015. This week, Crumpacker profiles three former student-athletes with strong basketball ties.
Rick Adelman? Honored.
Bud Ogden? Grateful.
Jim Sollars? Surprised.
Reduced to their essence, these were the reactions the three men had to being selected for the West Coast Conference's 2015 Hall of Honor class, to be inducted March 7 in Las Vegas in conjunction with the conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena.
There are few if any degrees of separation among Adelman, Ogden and Sollars regarding the Hall of Honor, making their grouping a natural and cozy one. Adelman at Loyola Marymount and Ogden at Santa Clara competed against each other in WCC games more than 45 years ago while more recently, Sollars coached Adelman's daughter Kathy on the Portland women's basketball team.
"It's going to be fun seeing these people,'' Adelman said. "When I was coaching in the NBA, you didn't get a chance to do these things. The season is so long and hectic. I'm looking forward to seeing some people and seeing the conference tournament.''
While the 67-year-old Adelman is regarded as one of the finest NBA coaches of his generation, having won more than 1,000 games over 23 seasons and taken the Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals on two occasions, he is being honored by the WCC for his play as a guard for Loyola Marymount in the late 1960's.
He led the Lions in scoring as a junior and senior and was a two-time all-conference selection as well as the WCC's Player of the Year in 1967-68.
"It's quite an honor. It's been a while since I've been in college,'' Adelman said. "I had a great experience at Loyola Marymount. The whole thing, athletics and education, looking back on that, it's a real honor to be chosen for this.''
While at LMU, Adelman and his teammates usually found themselves on the losing end of encounters with Ogden and Santa Clara. The Broncos were a power when Ogden was a student-athlete there from 1966-69 while leading the program to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1968 and '69. Ogden, one of the best post players of his time, earned All-American honors in 1969 as well as all-conference selections in '68 and '69.
"They were the team you had to go through,'' Adelman said. "They had Bud and his brother and Dennis Autry. We could never get through them.''Ogden was at his best in a 1967 game against Pepperdine when he poured in 55 points, still tops in Santa Clara single-game history and the No. 3 scoring total in WCC history.
"Rick was the key guy,'' Ogden said of facing LMU. "He was the point guard, extremely intelligent and hard-nosed, a good shooter. They always gave us all they had.''
On being selected for the WCC's Hall of Honor, Ogden said he is grateful to be able to attend because in November of 2010 he had a stroke. He has since recovered almost totally, to the point that he plays golf regularly and worked as a substitute teacher at Gilroy High School until retiring this year.
"I'm lucky to be alive,'' Ogden, 68, said. "I'm one of the lucky ones. I thank God that I'm still upright and not wheelchair-bound. No paralysis. I feel good now. I went to Mexico last week, enjoyed myself on the beaches. I golf regularly.''
Because of what he has been through, Ogden was moved when he learned he was being inducted into the WCC's Hall of Honor.
"It brought tears to my eyes,'' he said. "It's quite an honor to be accepted. I'm humbled.''
Ogden said he is excited about his upcoming trip to Las Vegas for the Hall of Honor ceremonies in conjunction with the conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena March 5-10.
"I wish my mother could make it. She's going to be 94 on March 2nd,'' he said.Ogden has two grown children from a previous marriage. He said he intends to bring his 11-year-old daughter Sydney to Las Vegas to show her that her old dad was a pretty darned good player way back when.
"She doesn't believe any of that,'' he said, laughing.
Ogden spent his teaching career at Valley Christian and Gilroy high schools. He taught algebra at Valley Christian and special education at Gilroy. He coached basketball, swimming and football at Valley Christian and was head basketball coach at Gilroy for six years.
"I enjoyed the teaching portion, the practices. I enjoy grass-roots teaching.''
The same could be said for Sollars, 72, who was head coach of the Portland women's basketball program for 28 years, starting in 1986; he retired following the 2013-14 season. In that span he won 388 games with the Pilots and 565 overall from his five years at Portland State from 1983-86.
He took the University of Portland to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 1993-94 in what was the first of four straight trips to the tourney. From 1993-99 Sollars' teams compiled a record of 125-51 and turned in the best single-season mark in the school's Division I history, 27-3 in 1996-97. That team won a second consecutive WCC title and was a perfect 14-0 in conference play.
Even with all that on his resume, Sollars had no inkling that he would be named to the Hall of Honor so soon after retiring from the coaching racket.
"It was a total surprise, to tell you the truth,'' he said. "I was surprised it happened so quickly after retirement. I'll take it nonetheless. I was a little shocked to be included in that group. I guess being around it as long as I have gets you privileges you wouldn't have otherwise.''
While coaching Kathy Adelman, Sollars got to know her NBA-coaching father and socialized with him on occasion.
"Because of his schedule, he couldn't come to a lot of games,'' Sollars said. "We'd go out to a watering hole near the university, have a beer and chat. He never, ever gave me a suggestion on what to do. He was the perfect parent. He let us coach.''
That watering hole, the Twilight Room, is known as the "T-Room'' to locals and is located just off campus. Portland men's coach at the time, Jack Avina, would sometimes join Adelman and Sollars.
"Kathy was a very natural athlete,'' Sollars said. "She was a sprinter and jumper (in track and field), a gifted athlete. Interestingly enough, she came as a walk-on and ended up starting at the end of (her freshman) season. She had a good sense of the game.''
Like all of the Hall of Honor inductees, Adelman, Ogden and Sollars will spend time in Las Vegas catching up with each other and likely embellishing old stories that link them to the game and their conference.
"I really make a point of going every year if possible,'' Sollars said. "I've always enjoyed it. Usually there was someone I knew being inducted. It's really well done every year.''
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.