Joe Chrisman was part of UCLA’s national basketball championship in 1967 and he talked about March Madness with his wife Valerie at the Blanchard Community Library on Tuesday, March 28.

Joe Chrisman talks March Madness at Blanchard Community Library

April 05, 2017
Santa Paula News

Joe Chrisman was part of UCLA’s national basketball championship in 1967 and he talked about March Madness with his wife Valerie at the Blanchard Community Library on Tuesday, March 28.

Lew Alcindor and the freshman Bruins beat the UCLA varsity team in the very first game at Pauley Pavilion.

“The world was put on notice,” said Chrisman, who was an All-CIF player in 1964 at Ventura High.

Alcindor, who later became Kareem Abdul Jabbar, was one of the great stars coached by John Wooden at UCLA.

“We were as good as as NBA team,” said Chrisman.

UCLA defeated Dayton 79-64 in the NCAA championship game at Louisville.

The Bruins have won 11 NCAA titles, the last in 1995, and Wooden’s final championship was in 1975 the year he retired.

Wooden started coaching at UCLA in 1948.

Chrisman said the game has changed because the players have become bigger, stronger, and jump higher.

In the days Chrisman played, recruiting by UCLA in that era wasn’t a big issue.

He said the school had a $50 budget.

“Wooden’s ability to recruit, a winning tradition and coaching on the West Coast turned UCLA into a basketball dynasty.

Coach Wooden taught his players how to press the opposition after every made basket.

Chrisman watched UCLA play Stanford when he was being recruited by Wooden at UCLA.

“It was an easy decision because Wooden was straight forward,” he said.

Chrisman also enjoyed assistant coach Jerry Norman and trainer Ducky Drake, who also coached the track team.

Chrisman explained how Wooden taught players how to put their socks on and how important it was to have short hair as a basketball player.

“It was all about the program winning games,” said Chrisman.

With Alcindor and a great freshman class, Chrisman said it was a part of the dynasty and UCLA being a head of the curve.

“Winning breeds winning,” he said.

In those days, players had to be a senior in college before turning professional.

Chrisman said coach Wooden had an uncanny memory remembering player’s families and children.

Chrisman said 2003 was special when UCLA named the court after John and Nell Wooden.

Chrisman said UCLA played back-to-back road games against Duke and the Blue Devils got the best of UCLA.

Coach Wooden was an All-American at Purdue.

“He was very organized about practices,” said Chrisman. “We was very competitive.”

In UCLA’s last home game this season, the undefeated 1967 national championship team was honored.

Chrisman received his undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara.

Joe is a principal attorney with Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Power, Chrisman and Gutierrez in Ventura.

Valerie retired last June after 14 years as Director of District and School Support Services at the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Office. Before that she taught at Cabrillo and Balboa middle schools, and at Ventura High before becoming the principal at Lincoln Elementary.

Joe and Valerie have two adult children and three grandchildren.

They have been married for 48 years.

Chrisman was a 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior at Ventura when he averaged 22.4 points per game.

He ended his basketball career in 1967 with a 30-0 season record with the Bruins.





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