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Tyler Trapani - UCLA Pauley Pavilion Final Basket - Heaven Sent

UCLA and Pauley Pavilion get a heaven-sent ending — from John Wooden himself? By Bill Plaschke Wooden's great-grandson Tyler Trapani, who'd never scored in three seasons as a Bruins walk-on, gets final two points in a 71-49 win over Arizona — the last basket at Pauley before the House That Wooden Built closes for renovation. That has to be more than coincidence, right? "I'm still kind of baffled about what just happened," he said. "Usually, I don't even get into the games. I'm just honored to be part of the team." It was a perfect Wooden answer for a perfect Wooden player. Trapani is the only Wooden relative ever to play for the Bruins, and he has taken the responsibility seriously, thrown his body around the floor for this team for three years without ever landing under a spotlight. Before Saturday, he had played in the final seconds of only three games, and two of those were in the Wooden Classic, where Howland honors Wooden by playing Trapani. In his third appearance, against Oregon State this month, Trapani and other reserves gave up six points in 15 seconds before Howland pulled them back out. When he was put into the game in the final minute Saturday, Howland was aware of the possibility of dramatics, and actually shouted for the players to "get it to Tyler." But then freshman Jack Haley threw up the three-point attempt, and everyone assumed Arizona would grab the rebound and finish the game. Said Howland, shaking his head: "Then the ball fell right in his hand. . . . Something's going on there." Said Trapani: "I pretty much feel my great-grandpa put me in that position." Others were sure of it. "Watching this was one of the greatest moments of my life," said Muehlhausen. "Knowing the connection between Tyler and his great-grandfather made this perfect." Last spring, Trapani spent about an hour each day sitting with Wooden during his final days. Even in the middle of final exams, the kid would bring his homework to the hospital and sit with Coach. "Even though he couldn't talk to me or know I would be there, I would usually say to him, 'I love you, Poppa," Trapani recalled. This was more than a shot, it was the celebration of a connection that will live forever. The players knew this was cool but didn't realize the full impact of the shot until Howland began crying in the locker room, then later cried when meeting with members of Wooden's family. "It was the perfect way to send off old Pauley and head off for the new one," said Bruins center Joshua Smith. Indeed, one more time before disappearing for 18 months of plastic surgery, the grand old lady dressed up in her finest magic and loveliest mystique, creating a stirring final memory that bulldozers will never touch. The house that Wooden built was also the house that Wooden closed, and, even though it won't happen until the fall of 2012, I can't wait to see how Coach will open it up again.
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