Andy Wolfe, Cal’s first great player in the post-World War II era, will be honored Thursday with the Pete Newell Career Achievement Award.
Wolfe, 87, will be recognized at halftime of the Bears’ 6 p.m. game against UCLA at Haas Pavilion. The game is designated as the third annual Pete Newell Classic.
Wolfe, who lives in Walnut Creek with his wife Peggy, said his sons and their families also will be on hand for the ceremonies.
The first Cal player to score 1,000 career points, Wolfe played for the Bears from 1945-46 through 1947-48. He led the team in scoring as a sophomore, when he led Cal to its first Final Four appearance.
He was a three-time All-Pacific Coast Conference Southern Division selection and and a first-team All-America pick by the Helms Athletic Foundation as a senior in 1948.
I talked Tuesday with Wolfe, posing five questions:
Who was the best player you ever played against?
“I would have to say the most effective against us was Bob Kurland from Oklahoma A&M. He was a 7-footer. Our tallest guy was 6-5. He controlled the boards pretty well. That’s when what we call the key actually looked like a keyhole — the lines didn’t go straight from the outer arc. He’d just park underneath the basket.”
Note: Kurland scored 29 points as Oklahoma A&M beat Cal 52-35 in the West Regional Final at Kansas City, Mo., which also served as the national semifinal.
Who do you consider the best players you’ve seen at Cal?
“You’ve got to go to Pete Newell’s (national championship team) group. I thought they all were good players. Obviously, Darrall Imhoff was the one who got more recognition than the others. That team was solid all the way through. Jason Kidd, obviously he’s distinguished himself. I know he was a great passer — could see the floor. He wasn’t much of a scorer. He had a good cohort with him in Lamond Murray.”
Tell us what you remember about your coach, Clarence “Nibs” Price?
“After I played, I was his assistant for four years. I have a lot of memories. He was there for 30 years and he started in 1924, ended up in ’54. From ’24 through ’30 he was both the head basketball coach and head football coach. He took the team to the Rose Bowl team in ’30. He was a gentleman. He could get tough in practice and be demanding. Never would embarrass anybody. It was more this is what we’ve got to do. He was a good coach to play for.”
What is your lasting memory of playing Ohio State in the third-place game at the 1946 Final Four at New York City?
“My memory is we got beat. And that I don’t like. We were in the game at halftime (trailing 22-21). Then they came out and they took control of the game. (Ohio State won 63-45) Believe it or not, you remember more the games you lose than the games you win. It was fun playing in the Garden. Then I went back there in the East-West Game in ’48.”
Which brand of college basketball is better — your era or today’s game?
“The game has changed. Probably the fans like this game better. There are a lot of things they do today we would called on. That makes a different game out of it. The players today are better, faster, bigger. If they had to play under our rules they wouldn’t look quite as good.”