Does a Bruin? This year's UCLA edition is happier than before, but also more suspect. UCLA is no lock to win its regional at Portland, not with the rootin', tootin', harassin' gang from Arizona State on hand.
Lionel Hollins and company beat strong Alabama 97-94 in the best first-round game, and they must defeat another toughie in Ricky Sobers-led Las Vegas to play UCLA. ASU's midcourt traps demoralized 'Bama, but the Bruins' back-court of Pete Trgovich and Andre Mc-Carter is more poised. With Dave Meyers, Marques Johnson and Rich Washington up front, UCLA should prevail.
Coach John Wooden calls his team "essentially passive." The exception is Meyers, the fearsome Spider with the crazed visage. Last week he was slowed by a sprained ankle and charley horse, but his 26 points proved it will take a herd of trampling broncos to stop Meyers now that the end is in sight.
If Easter weekend turns out to be a red and blue affair, one semifinal will be a return engagement between UCLA and Maryland. The Bruins won the December game when Meyers pumped through 36 points and Lucas was semi-injured. The Terps' three-guard system got them in trouble against taller UCLA then, but Davis is no longer a babe and he would have much more to say in a rematch.
In the other semifinal, it would not be astonishing to see UNC's Smith go with his stalling Ford at the opening bell in an attempt to control the tempo against Indiana's superior forces.
The coaches of the likely final four are not exactly strangers. The eldest daughter of Maryland's Driesell is a student at Indiana and gets Hoosier tickets from Knight himself. Knight and Smith frequently discuss tactics over the telephone. And the first time the Indiana coach spoke at Wooden's UCLA clinic, he arrived for his lecture with a black eye, the result of a disagreement with a motorist while he was on his way to the campus.
If Knight and Indiana make it back to Southern California this time, they will be equipped to give the other fellows the black eyes.