This has been, in truth, Crum's best coaching year. Louisville's lack of height has been overcome with muscle (rebounders Rodney McCray, Derek Smith and one-thumb Wiley Brown), hustle (the maniacal Roger Burkman) and Griffith, whose new, restrained on-court personality has toned down whatever desires his teammates had to continue the Cardinals' Doctors of Dunk image. Zone-breaking shooter Poncho Wright vowed long ago that "the Ville [ Louisville] is going to the Nap [ Indianapolis, site of the finals]."
Texas A&M, which scored an astounding 25 points in the second overtime of a 78-61 upset of North Carolina, stands in the way. More specifically, the A&M Wall—6'11" Rudy Woods, 6'8" Vernon Smith and 6'6" Rynn Wright—blocks the way with the stingiest defense in the tournament.
Louisville has been vulnerable to strong, inside players, provided the opposition can break the Cards' vaunted 1-2-2 zone press. That places this game in the hands of the Aggies' erratic Guard David Britton, who was brilliant against the Tar Heels but whose shots and passes have scattered the ushers elsewhere.
Purely on discipline, Louisville should advance to get its crack at LSU, assuming the boys from the Bayou happen to notice that Missouri hardly has any players left. Thin but disciplined Mizzou received surprising support from 7'2" sub Tom Dore in a 61-51 victory over San Jose State and from emergency fill-in Mark Dressler—32 points!—in an 87-84 shocker of Notre Dame. With everybody collapsing around freshman Center Steve Stipanovich, the Tigers also are shooting at an NCAA-record pace—57%. But the team can be overpowered physically and out-rushed on the fast break, a stratagem foreign to Big Eight teams.
Meanwhile LSU, having turned back the Braves of Alcorn—"There were a lot of brothers out there," said Rudy Macklin—presents for the Midwest's listening and dancing pleasure: Macklin and Greg (Cookieman) Cook inside, Ethan Martin outside and DeWayne (Astronaut) Scales in orbit everywhere.
Coach Dale Brown's high-powered Bengals are fast, strong, deep (take a bow, Willie Sims), adaptable and hungry. They should hurt Missouri every which way, and if Jupiter is aligned with Mars and the Astronaut is under a modicum of control on his turnaround jumpers, they should defeat Louisville.
Which leaves only the West, where Ohio State's 89-75 thrashing of Arizona State, with Center Herb Williams and Guard Kelvin Ransey merging for 50 points, enabled the Buckeyes to become the region's only seeded team to advance.
Clemson-Lamar sounds like a guitar player down at the country-and-western tavern, but it's the size-against-speed matchup that resulted after an underdog-day afternoon in the Wasatch Range. Clemson, which finished a solid fourth in the ACC because it had only one league victory on the road, won two games from Utah teams in Ogden and immediately applied for Beehive State citizenship. Lamar, on the other hand, simply got far enough ahead of Weber State and Oregon State so that when B. B. Davis, Mike Olliver—that's two l's, as in basketball—and the other Cards began to fold, it was too late for the opposition.
Ohio State should win this regional. But then DePaul should have won this regional. DePaul? Beloved old Ray Meyer warned the Blue Demons that their 26-1 record shouldn't swell their heads. That Mark Aguirre and the rest couldn't just turn it on when they had to. That they weren't all that great. Nobody listened. They'd beaten UCLA once; why shouldn't they do so again?
Because under the calm, smart tutelage of Larry Brown, UCLA's Kiki (Vandeweghe) and the Kids have grown up. Slew Sanders, the former forward and new center, is quick and tough. Rocket Rod Foster may be basketball's fastest human. Hardly terrified, the Bruins controlled the tempo from the beginning with James Wilkes harassing Aguirre while the Muffin Man looked disinterested. When Aguirre finally aroused himself and DePaul rallied to a 67-67 tie, UCLA held fast and converted foul shots, 10 of them, to win 77-71.