He is the team comic and mimic, the fastest runner and the leading scorer and rebounder. "The best forward in college basketball," USC Coach Bob Boyd called him after Wicks led UCLA to a 91-78 win over the Trojans Saturday night. The night before USC had upset the Bruins 87-86 and it looked as though they were going to do it again until Wooden sat Wicks down beside him and proceeded to give him holy heck (Wooden never swears) for almost four minutes.
"It was a rather lengthy talk," said Wooden, "and when he went back out there he played a fantastic game." UCLA opens with Cal State Long Beach (23-3), which smashed Weber State on Saturday 92-73, using its customary fine shooting and stingy zone. Like Jacksonville, the 49ers are an excellent team playing in the NCAA for the first time. They have won 19 games in a row and that is where the fun should end against the vastly more experienced Bruins.
High-scoring, high-leaping Utah State, which beat UTEP to reach the Seattle regional, has two fine players in Marvin Roberts and Nate Williams. It must beat the West Coast Athletic Conference champ, either Pacific or Santa Clara, to get a crack at the UCLA-Long Beach winner. A Utah State-UCLA final would seem in order, and the Bruins have traditionally dominated the teams from over the mountains—all the way across, in fact.
Weber State's early defeat eliminated one of the more amusing possibilities in the tournament. Connoisseurs of collegiate nicknames were hoping that Weber, Kansas State, Kentucky and either Villanova or Davidson would be the four semifinalists, thus bringing to College Park the Wildcats, the Wildcats, the Wildcats and the Wildcats.
Oh, well, it should be wild enough for anybody's taste with Sidney Wicks glaring at the Soul Patrol in the finals, or maybe Batman and Robin trying to chase down elusive Roadrunner Home. And South Carolina watching on television.