ISU Baseball Coaches

John Wooden, 1948

John Wooden 

John Robert Wooden was born October 14, 1910 near Martinsville Indiana. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of fame as both a player (Class of 1961) and a coach (Class of 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories.

As a player, Wooden played in the basketball-crazed state of Indiana. He played at Martinsville High School under Coach Glenn Curtis, who, he would later replace as Director of Athletics and basketball coach at Indiana State Teachers College. He and Coach Curtis (nicknamed "the Fox") lead  Martinsville High School to victory at the Indiana State High School Championship. Wooden had the reputation of being the greatest dribbler in state basketball history and also an excellent shot-set artist. He graduated in 1928.

He then went to Purdue University, where he was a three-time All-American guard and member of Purdue's 1932 national championship team. (The NCAA did not officially recognize a champion until 1939.) Wooden was nicknamed "The Indiana Rubber Man" for his suicidal dives on the court.

Wooden graduated from Purdue with a degree in English. He turned down offers to become a professor and began teaching and coaching in the high school ranks. He became basketball coach of Central High School of South Bend in 1937, and in eight years his teams won 157 games and lost 44 for a .781 average. His Northern Indiana High School Conference record was equally great. In six years of the eight his team ended up in first place, tie for first, or in second.  His 1941 team brought home the sectional title for the first time in a decade. He guided his team to four sectional titles, two regional crowns, and two victories in the semifinal competition of the state tournament. Central played in seven of the eight sectional tournament finals while Wooden was coaching.

Gaining the rank of lieutenant, Wooden served in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he coached at Indiana State University.

During his tenure at Indiana State, Wooden's team won 46 games while losing 15. The greatest show of this coaching came in 1948 when he guided the team to the greatest record ever achieved by the Sycamores. They compiled a 28-7 record. He led the Sycamores to the finals in the national inter-collegiate tournament at Kansas City where they were beaten by Louisville for the title. They Sycamores won the Midwest tournament and had the best record in Indiana. Indiana sports writers also named him "Coach of the Year"

In 1948 he left Indiana State to become the head coach for UCLA.