UCLA's shimmering 89-84 victory over North Carolina in Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 1 was as good a game as we are likely to see so early in any season. More important, it was the Bruins' most significant win since John Wooden retired 11 years ago. Post-Wizard NCAA tournament and Pac-10 successes were fine, but they were no more than lingering embers of UCLA pride and tradition. The NIT championship in 1985? Are you kidding? No, fifth-coach-removed Walt Hazzard finally engraved a Wooden-type notch into his holster—a huge, attention-grabbing, pollster-baiting W that will have lasting effects on UCLA's image, recruiting, attendance and all the rest.
Shimmering? The Bruins' intensity, Reggie Miller's reincarnation as a battler rather than just another gunner, the courts-manship of the dazzling point guard, Pooh Richardson, and the emergence of the twin monster freshmen, Trevor Wilson and Greg Foster (simulating Bill Walton in uniform No. 32), give ample cause for America to be shivering in its boots over UCLA once again.
A year ago, following North Carolina's 37-point rout of UCLA in Chapel Hill, Hazzard had ranted, "What goes around comes around. I hope I'm around long enough to dish out the come-around." He also threatened to cancel the three remaining games in the teams' four-year series, accused Dean Smith of showing "no mercy," and said the game must have been Smith's "payback for all the difficulties he had over the years with Coach Wooden." In fact, Wooden and Smith had met only once, with UCLA winning 78-55 in the 1968 NCAA title game. But prior to last week's meeting, the Bruins' coach had regained his composure. He called Smith a "great coach, one of the finest in the history of the game," and vowed the UCLA-UNC matchup would go on "forever."
"I've admired Dean Smith for years. I'm close with some of his ex-players," said Hazzard. "I'll never forget Charlie Scott being the first black player in the ACC." (Scott wasn't; Maryland recruited and played the first two blacks in the league. Anyway, Hazzard meant well.)
Scott and Laker James Worthy—who wore his Carolina letterman's jacket and was booed by the UCLA fans—sat behind the Tar Heel bench, while down the way Worthy's current teammate, a guy who once played for UCLA as Lew Alcindor, rooted for the Bruins. It was a gala, electric occasion but one for which the Tar Heels hurt themselves by prepping against a couple of pineapples in Hawaii prior to the trip back to the mainland, where they faced not only a raging, revenge-minded home team but also a trio of Pac-10 officials. (Georgetown, by the way, faced with a similar referee arrangement, canceled its game at Arizona State scheduled for Dec. 9.) Late in the contest Carolina's legs went dead and the Bruins easily sliced through the traps in the Heels' scramble defense. Both coaches agreed the result was not an upset. Miller scored 32 points but, stunningly, attempted only two three's. "We have been waiting all summer for this; we have some vendettas to be served; this is just another check off the list," he said. The touted Tar-rookie, J.R. Reid, plagued by fouls, was limited to 10 points and 7 rebounds in 22 minutes. "He's got the freshman blues," said Carolina's Kenny Smith of Reid. "He's starting to realize there are other 6'10" guys out there as quick as he is." Not many. But the Bruins have two in Wilson, who looks as if he teethed on barbells at Muscle Beach, and Foster, a Sam Bowie look-alike who, sure enough, has BOWIE tattooed on his left arm. "I wanted to prove something," said Foster, who buried all six of his shots against Carolina.
On Saturday UCLA beat Pepperdine, another big wave that just happened to wash up on the shores of Westwood at an inopportune time, 95-82. Hang ten, everybody. The Bruins may be all the way back.
CALLING TED KOPPEL
On Sept. 17 and 18, ABC's usually terrific Nightline program committed a gross disservice in a two-part panel discussion on college athletics from the campus of the University of Maryland. Among the panel members were Maryland chancellor John Slaughter, sociologist Harry Edwards and Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Invited to address questions from the audience were the likes of Georgia professor Jan Kemp, American University basketball coach Ed Tapscott and writer Dan Jenkins. The exchanges were lively, candid and thought provoking, but one constituency went unrepresented: Not a single student-athlete appeared on the program. Kansas All-America Danny Manning was among the many viewers puzzled by the glaring omission.
"Everybody was on there but the players," Manning says. "We are the nucleus of the NCAA. I feel basically left out. I think they should take some time and listen to us."
Manning called NCAA headquarters up the road in Mission, Kans., to register his beef but got no response. NCAA spokesman Jim Marchiony says he never got the message. "[We]...had nothing to do with who appeared on that show," Marchiony says. "If Manning wants to be on TV and he thinks the NCAA could help, I would be glad to do it." Manning has some legitimate complaints. "Like after home games, you would like to get five dollars to buy something to eat," he says. "It gets awfully [tiring] when you have to find a coupon somewhere to get something for free. Or laundry. Do you sell your books to get money? It's hard. It seems like everything you do is illegal."
Of course, not everyone's sympathy lies with the athletes. Georgia coach Hugh Durham tells of visiting the university golf course and asking one of the Bulldog linksmen where the team was playing next.
"Acapulco," said the golfer.
"What are you doing?" Durham asked.
Sounds like stuff for another dynamite two-parter, Ted.
Bob Knight takes a call from Sylvester Stallone—Rambo meets Bam-Bo—who wants the coach to appear with him in a basketball movie. Some excerpts from their talk:
Sly: "You watch all my movies?"
B.K.: "I've seen 'em all."
Sly: "You like 'em or..."
B.K.: "Very much so. You bet."
Sly: "To be honest with you, I don't know that much about basketball."
B.K.: "You're a man after my own heart then.... I got too god-bleep many around here who think they know too much."
Sly: "You must be about...6'5", something like that?"
B.K.: "Yeah, 6'4"."
Sly: "I'm about 5'7".... Just between you and me, I always like to put short people in my movies 'cause it makes me look taller. I'm real short."
Sly: "We might have to take some shots of you walking in lower levels or something like that. Little trenches or something."
B.K.: "No problem."
Sly: "Would you be interested in a love scene that we got?"
B.K.: "No, I don't think...my secretaries say no, they don't think I'd be very good at that."
Sly: "You're not a romantic?"
B.K.: "Just let me raise hell with the Russians."
Sly: "You just want to do that, huh? Kick some butt with them?"
B.K.: "We can do that."
Eventually "Stallone" revealed himself to be Barry Donovan, a disc jockey for WAZY in Lafayette, Ind. Knight was such a good sport he allowed Donovan to air the tape on the radio. The question is, did Donovan get Stallone's permission?
Nevada-Reno center Quentin Stephens is nicknamed Q for good reason: Nobody knows how to spell his name. When he arrived at Reno from his home in Oakland, Stephens spelled his first name Quentin. His junior year he changed it to Quintin. Last season he left the team because he got tired of basketball so he obviously became Quittin' Stephens. Now he's back—as Quentin again.
People in Reno assumed Stephens initially changed the spelling to keep up with teammate Dwyane Randall, whose unusually spelled name came into being as a birth-certificate error, but which dwyenched him with some dwyownwight dwyrmatic attention. Reno S.I.D. Paul Stuart says Stephens told him he'd checked his own birth certificate and found an i instead of an e. But Stephens insists his name was always Quentin and that when he wrote it for Reno officials the e looked like an i. Quentin/Quintin thus qualified for a quantum of queries. As a criminal justice major, Stephens would probably have no qualms about queueing up for a job at San Quentin. Or Quintin.
STOCKS AND BOUNDS
Shouldn't Walter Byers or Don Regan or somebody do something about coaches who blatantly ignore the 15-player limit on scholarships as they go about stockpiling recruits? N.C. State's Jim Valvano and Kentucky's Eddie Sutton are not the only offenders, just the most visible. Add these schools' recent signees to their current underclassmen and redshirts and each comes out with at least 16.
"It's very simple. I certainly can count," Valvano says. "I would never do anything without, obviously, having full knowledge that we will have 15 players on scholarship next September. Obviously, I'm intelligent enough to realize that I wouldn't give a scholarship unless I knew I probably would be having one to give. As I said, I know how to count."
Nothing like a little mysterious lasagna poisoning to get a Wolf to keel over and think about transferring, right, V?
Then there's "I'll sign 50 if I can" Sutton, who is still entertaining potential recruits for next season after having already signed six. "I'm going to sign all I can. There are a lot of options and I don't have to declare anything until next fall," he says. "I'm not going to violate any rules. Remember, every scholarship is a one-year commitment." Kentucky guard Ed Davender said he didn't think any veteran Cat "had reason to be nervous."
"Ed isn't the coach," said Sutton. "I'll make that determination. If I wanted to, I could have a new team every year."
Meanwhile, Sutton is keeping his usual low profile—he tools about in his Mercedes in blatant disregard of AD Cliff Hagan's unwritten policy that department employees not drive ostentatious cars. What about ostentatious titles? The team's official poster features dime-sized face shots of the players and a postcard-sized photo of Sutton. Beside it is the caption AMERICA'S COACH.
And all along, the nations of the Third World thought Dale Brown of LSU was our coach. Of course, Brown has a problem, too. Last week the NCAA dropped a one-year miniprobation on Tiger Town. LSU can still be on TV and go to the tournament, but Brown's scholarship allotment for next season has been cut by two to 13. With the standard come-and-goers, hideaways, flunk-outs, never-ups-nor-ins and general ratatouille at Baton Rouge, however, Brown will find a way to make do. "I don't want to sound holier than thou or like Mr. Puritan but I do feel good," Brown said of the three-year-plus investigation that cited booster irregularities but absolved the coach. "I'm damned glad it's over. It's been like an anvil around my neck. I'm going to work in the system now."
Anyway, Brown has obviously thought better of his notion to resign and become a TV announcer. He had been talking, he says, with three networks, which, after much prodding, he identified as CBS, NBC and ESPN.
Or could it have been C-BS, N-BS and BS-PN?
Penn's Bruce Lefkowitz after scoring 24 points on Georgia Tech: "I guess they're not used to seeing slow white Jewish guys in the ACC."...Last season SWC teams beat only one ranked team (Ohio State, which fell out of the Top 20 after losing to Arkansas). Already this season league representatives have whipped three of last year's Final Four teams; Arkansas beat Kansas, Texas knocked off Louisville and TCU beat LSU. Says SMU coach Dave Bliss about TCU's Horned Frogs: "They play tough defense, rebound well and will knock you on your butt if you don't watch out." Bliss picks them for the Final Four.... In the Oklahoma media guide under "Favorite class at OU," Sooner forward Darryl (Choo) Kennedy listed "Theory of Basketball." Below it, under "Least favorite class," Choo wrote "Several."...Late score from the Siesta Bowl: Penn State 74, Miami 61.
Foster was one of the baby Bruins who helped tattoo the Tar Heels at Pauley.
An old Wooden soldier looked on as UCLA, the sleeping giant, awoke.
The number this week is 22.5. That's the percentage of body fat in Auburn sophomore forward Mike Jones, 6'7" and allegedly 234 pounds. This figure absolutely porks out the school BF record of 18.1% set in 1982 by the renowned round mound, Charles Barkley. Jones was signaling the Tiger bench for a breather five minutes into the season.
Tony Wysinger (right), the slithery 5'10" senior guard from Illinois, showed that there are several ways to skin a Panther by making all 10 of his free throws, including four in the final minute, and contributing a school-record 16 assists as the Illini upset home-standing Pittsburgh 99-97.
Jeff Holmes, a 6'4" junior guard, came out of the north woods of Westmoreland, N.H., and then off the bench in Bangor to hit seven three-point baskets as the Black Bears of Maine rallied from 15 points behind to stun Michigan State 84-81, avenging last season's 31-point loss to the Spartans.