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."