Houston was handicapped by outside shooting that has been poor all year and became worse with Alcindor as a distraction. Nevertheless, citing statistics, Hayes insisted afterward that his teammates had "choked" and that he had found Alcindor sadly lacking. Speaking evenly and with obvious conviction, Hayes said: "He's not aggressive enough on the boards, particularly on offense. Defensively, he just stands around. He's not at all, you know, all they really put him up to be." As Hayes went on, patiently cataloging these deficiencies, Alcindor, expressionless as always, moved nearby through the crowd signing autographs. Hayes was undisturbed.
"Hey, Lewis," Mike Warren called. "Elvin wants to see you." Silently, Alcindor turned and headed toward Hayes. He clasped him warmly about the arm, and together, ushered by two stern Kentucky cops, they ducked through the service door and moved off into the night.
The next afternoon Alcindor came to Hayes's hotel room, and they wandered off down 4th Street, looking for a pair of sunglasses for Lew. Easter shoppers—a large number wearing frightful pink hair curlers that set back the image of Kentucky womanhood several years, not to mention a Stephen Foster melody or two—had the nerve to stare to such an extent that the two big men settled for a visit to a record shop, where each bought to his taste. Alcindor: Cannonball Adderley; Hayes: the Supremes. Then they returned to Hayes's room, where the talk turned back to basketball. Alcindor, absolutely unmoved by his friend's public criticism, promised to follow Hayes's advice and build himself up with weights. Lew, tacitly acknowledging the wisdom of Guy Lewis's game plan, encouraged Hayes to go to the basket even more.
At just about this time, a block away, Coach Mickey Donoher called his Dayton team together to talk of UCLA. Donoher, whose Irish green eyes cut through a face that looks as if it once belonged to Wendell Corey, was nervous. Here was his team, unranked and untroubled by fame all year, suddenly about to play for the national title. The night before, behind May, the Flyers had upset North Carolina 76-62. Dayton trailed 9-2 when Donoher substituted Glinder Torain and Torain fired up the team's performance on the boards. May did the rest. At 13-13 he had eight points and so did Larry Miller of North Carolina. Thereafter Miller made five, May 26, and eventually Miller himself had to sacrifice his offensive potential to start handling May.
With neither Miller nor his running mate Bob Lewis hitting, the Carolina attack shifted underneath to big Rusty Clark in the second half. Again and again he scored over the 6'6" Torain. But May's magnificent game continued, and as it became clear that Dayton would win, a good many people began to wonder: if Clark could score like this, how in the world could the Flyers even hope to stop Alcindor the next night?
Donoher, a varsity coach for only three years, would be playing for the championship with a team that had lost to the likes of Niagara and had been cut to pieces twice by Louisville. A few weeks before, just after the Flyers had taken their 13th victory, Donoher had wistfully said: "Only one more to go." Someone asked what that meant. "One more for 14," he said. "They always say if you win 14 they can't fire you. It guarantees you'll be over .500." Now, Saturday, the one more to go was for the national title. Donoher chewed two toothpicks at once. He had gone to bed at 5:30 but by 7:30 was awake, tense and staring.
As it turned out, Dayton held Alcindor reasonably well, but there were mismatches all over the court and expectable gaps in the Flyers' defense. Sophomore Dan Sadlier played against Alcindor, and Sadlier is 6'6". He received help, and that's how the gaps showed. Afterward, the UCLA players said with admiration, and not at all patronizingly, that Dayton was as well coached a team as they had faced. But it had taken five and a half minutes for Dayton to score and it was 20-4 soon after. It was 70-46 when Wooden graciously removed Alcindor and Warren with 5:17 still left, and there was a 29-point spread (76-47) just after Allen, the last Bruin starter, went to the bench.
Kenny Heitz sighed. "We're not very popular, are we?" he asked. He had been booed and cursed early in the game when May had suddenly fallen to the floor, holding his face, after Heitz had dashed by, arm out, trying to block his shot. Heitz insists he did not touch May. May says Heitz hit him with his elbow, but emphasizes it was clearly unintentional. Nevertheless, all the frustrations of dealing with UCLA, of seeing the Bruins win so effortlessly, poured out on Kenny Heitz, who wears glasses and is skinny and is an honors student who wants to go to Harvard Law School.
"You know," he said, only half kidding, "we're even starting to feel hurt. We are not a bully team at all. You practically have to smash Lew in the mouth before he gets tough." He shrugged. "Oh well," he added, "I'm learning to understand these things. I used to root for all the underdogs myself. Now I'm a big fan of Green Bay and Muhammad Ali. See, I even call him by the right name. We all have to stick together."
Besides not being loved, Coach Wooden has an additional problem. This was his third national title in the last four years and he has given a championship watch to each of his two grandsons. He's already run out of grandsons and Alcindor is only a sophomore.