theorize that UCLA's rugged schedule has taken its toll. The Bruins have beaten
three teams ranked No. 2 nationally at various times—Maryland, North Carolina
State and Notre Dame—and they came from behind to beat USC. Wooden conceded the
recent Notre Dame, USC and Oregon games—all at home—"drained" his team
emotionally and physically, but he would not use this as an excuse.
" Oregon shot
from the outside far better than we expected," he said. "I can't fault
our defense, although if people are going to shoot 12 for 14 as Coldren did, it
may cause me to alter my philosophy that you're not beaten by outside shooting.
He beat us."
"I've been working on my shooting, but tonight was a matter of confidence.
I made a good hustle play and hit my first open shot. From then on as long as I
was open, I knew they were going in. It's funny," he added. "When you
first see all those UCLA players you think they are gods. Then you play them
and you find they are just people like the rest of us."
In his office, a
tired Dick Harter savored the victory. " UCLA has made a farce of college
basketball for years. That's the most amazing thing in all of sports, ever. But
now they have to be thinking, 'maybe we can lose again.' And other teams will
really know they can win. Things are suddenly very different. The greatest test
for Bill Walton and the others is how they will respond to being equal. Maybe
they'll respond well to that, maybe they won't.
"It could be
that UCLA might not even get to the NCAA playoffs this year. They have to play
USC at USC. That would be great for the Pacific Eight. What a league this will
be when we get the defensive style...." Then he thought of something else:
"At least I've caught up with my old assistant coach at Penn [ Digger Phelps
of Notre Dame]. He'll be calling tonight."
Some eight miles
away from MacArthur Court, Oregon's arena, the USC squad had watched the game
on television. "When it was over," said Coach Bob Boyd, "the boys
were out in the hall beating on wastepaper baskets."
Up in Portland,
the Bruins sat up past midnight in their hotel rooms, rehashing the things that
went wrong, brainstorming about the might-have-beens, trying to fit the pieces
back into the puzzle. "We're supposed to get the ball to Bill,"
complained Greg Lee, "but we're also supposed to be a five-man offense. The
trouble is, the other guys don't know what to do when Bill is
Wooden is not infallible and saw no reason why they should not second-guess
their coach. "We've got to change things now so they're right," said
one player. "We've lost two games in a row. Something sure as hell is not
It is too soon to
bury the Walton Gang, but just about everybody agrees it is badly in need of