"He is ready to resume practice whenever he is equal to it," said Dr. A. E. Harer, the team physician, somewhat enigmatically. Then he added, "To have a blow knock him out for four minutes and not even leave him with so much as a headache is remarkable."
North Carolina State has revenge on its mind. Team leader Monte Towe says he felt "humiliated" by the early UCLA loss. Thompson was embarrassed by Wilkes in that game, but does not feel it was a true test. "We are the best team in the country," he said. "We love each other as people and we respect each other as ballplayers."
The team certainly looks worthy of Norm Sloan's wardrobe. The coach bought a tic decorated with small No. 1's after the Wolfpack moved into the top spot in the ratings. His club throttled a very good Providence team 92-78 Thursday night before a frantic crowd that Sloan said included only 750 student ticket-holders. Providence Coach Dave Gavitt later had the urge to drip sarcasm on Sloan. "There's this Biblical story about a fella who made a loaf of bread and a couple of fish go a long way," he said, "but, man, State sure did a hell of a job with those 750 tickets."
Meanwhile, UCLA got more reprieves than a cat in its 111-100 triple overtime victory over hot-shooting Dayton in the Western Regional. The Flyers' Donald Smith found himself staring the Bruin myth squarely in the eye with four seconds left in regulation time and the score tied, but he blinked and his jump shot missed. In the next two overtimes Dayton had few chances at victory and by overtime III the Bruins decided enough was enough.
Dayton had its heroes. Mike Sylvester scored 36 points for the Flyers, and some of his shots were so implausible that they had the UCLA bench, Wooden included, laughing in amazement.
The tendency is to put the Bruins on the couch to find answers for their losses to Notre Dame, Oregon State and Oregon, and for exhibitions like the one against Dayton. The team is into vegetables, beads, meditation and telling the coach how to run his show. Wooden wants the ball to go inside to Walton, Wilkes or Dave Meyers but then the rest of the team tends to stand around. They shun the outside shot and are leery of making mistakes that could consign them to the bench. But even if there are a few problems on the production line, UCLA is still the General Motors of basketball.
The team was so unfazed by the Dayton scare that the players frolicked around their motel pool the next morning. Greg Lee and Walton sat back to back, meditating, for 30 minutes. A pair of Bruins played tennis nearby. Later a bunch of them, including Walton, amused themselves by diving into the pool for pennies. "Isn't this Tucson weather terrific?" someone asked Assistant Coach Gary Cunningham. "Yes," he answered, "but I don't know if it's conducive to basketball."
Suntanned, meditated, full of organic food and jingling their pennies, the Bruins destroyed hapless San Francisco 83-60 in the regional title game, committing only 10 fouls and seven turnovers.
The week's big loser was third-ranked Notre Dame in the first round of the Mideast in Tuscaloosa. Whether the Irish took Michigan too lightly only their team psychiatrist can say, but they appeared somnambulant early on, falling behind 28-8 as 6'8" Campy Russell put in all kinds of inside stuff while his fellow forward, 6'2" Wayman Britt, popped away outside.
Notre Dame did rally for a 54-52 second-half lead, and Irish eyes were smiling. But not for long. Faster than you could say Campanella Russell, All-America, he hit a series of shots that took the breath out of the crowd and the fight out of the Irish. Michigan walked home with a 77-68 victory that did not surprise its players.