Herbie’s UCLA Press

Herbie Cohen was a lot of great things but as far as coaching went he was more of a cheerleader than a strategist.  This is another memorable Herbie story related by Hank Aberman.

So it came as a big surprise when Herbie took a page from the great UCLA coach, John Wooden and introduced us to Wooden’s big man press at practice one day.  When the visiting team would take the ball out of bounds, he wanted Mike Bratman and me, to jump up and down in front of the guy throwing the ball in to disrupt and intercept the inbound pass.

That night in the counselor game, Herbie called a time out when the other team was going to inbound the ball.  His coaching order, “Do the UCLA Press!.”

Mike and I did, the ball was tipped, Bratman got it and went up and MISSED the easy layup.  Herbie almost had a heart attack.  His chance for coaching fame evaporated.

Twenty years later, Kathy and I visited Bratman at Stanford University where he was a Professor of Philosophy.  Somehow, the discussion centered on Herbie’s failed UCLA press.  I said to Mike how bad he must have felt missing that easy layup.  Mike looked at me with a smile and said, “Hank, I didn’t miss that layup, you did”.

And then the memory I had so successfully repressed for twenty years came rushing back to me.  Seeing myself again, going up for the shot, hearing Herbie’s screams of joy turn to anguish as I blew the layup.  For twenty years I had successfully forgotten who was the goat that fateful night.

Then again. if I had made the shot, Herbie, inspired by his coaching success, might have left camp for a career in the NBA thus robbing us of his charming and instructive presence for many years. So I guess I did Saginaw a favor by missing that shot.

Hmmmmmmm, it looks like rationalization just replaced repression!

The team was undefeated in 1957 and as pictured from the left included Hank Aberman, Eddie Abrams, Neal Abrams, Marty Miller, Coach Herb Cohen, and Marty “Muttle” Weinberg.




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