But life in Los Angeles that first year wasn't a breeze for the twins. In particular, they found the city's "me or you" philosophy of life difficult to take. "When we first came out here we trusted everybody," says Paula. "We found out that we couldn't." They also had almost as much trouble finding boutiques and shoe stores that catered to women of their stature in L.A. as they had had in Flint. The McGees, for example, wear size 13 shoes. Back home, Marianne Flowers, a seamstress and a member of the Baptist church the McGees attended, had turned yards of material into elegant designs for the girls. Occasionally they had modeled in local fashion shows that Mrs. Flowers organized. Last April the McGees resumed their modeling, appearing in a tall-women's fashion show on A.M. Los Angeles, a TV program.
In their freshman year, some observers say, the McGees also had to overcome a reputation for being temperamental sorts who loafed in practice and could give a coach fits with their moody behavior. Pam, a ferocious rebounder, was relegated to sixth-man duty early last season when it became apparent that at times the twins had eyes only for each other on the court and that she had not yet grasped Sharp's man-to-man defense. Paula had a more varied game than her sister, was a better outside shooter and played under much more control.
"Pam was more inclined to do something silly than Paula," says junior Forward Kathy Doyle. "One time in a game Pam fell down and shot the ball while lying on the floor. Did it go in? Nope. I just think of her sitting there in the key. We looked at the bench and the bench looked at us. Luckily we were far enough ahead so we could laugh about it."
But if the McGees sometimes took the regular-season games lying down, they found the Final Four, in which they encountered the likes of 6'8" Anne Donovan of Old Dominion and 6'3" Janice Lawrence and 6-foot Pam Kelly of Louisiana Tech, a knockout. "Those girls came from nowhere to block Pam's and Paula's shots," says Point Guard Thera Smith. "Pam's eyes were big as saucers. She'd never had her shot blocked from six feet." In the first round, Louisiana Tech beat the Trojans 66-50, and Old Dominion defeated them 68-65 in the playoff for third place. The McGees, who together had averaged 37.2 points and 18.9 rebounds during the regular season, combined for only 26 points and 16 rebounds in those games and fouled out of both. "The nationals made them realize how hard they had to work," says Doyle.
"Last year when one would play well, the other would get into foul trouble," says Sharp. "This season they're terrors." Example: When the Trojans avenged last season's loss to Old Dominion with a 66-60 victory in January, the twins had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Donovan blocked only one of their shots. The McGees will at times still try to force the ball to each other—in a recent game against Cal State-Fullerton, Pam passed up an easy layup to attempt a well-intentioned, but horribly timed, blind wraparound pass so that Paula could score her 1,000th career point—and going into last Monday's game against Arizona State the twins had combined for at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in 13 of USC's games.
The twins would like nothing better than to repay Louisiana Tech for that lesson the Lady Techsters gave the Trojans in last year's Final Four. As if the McGees needed any more incentive, last month they got really riled when the AP poll left the Trojans at No. 2 although top-ranked Louisiana Tech had lost that week to Old Dominion. "It was a slap in the face," says Paula, "but we're not going to let it get to us. The only thing that matters is who's on top on March 28."
That's the date of the national finals, when USC may well find that when it comes to the McGee twins, one plus one equals No. 1.