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Pac 10 Notebook

December 3, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Pac-10 Notebook

by Joaquin Mesa

UCLA

Having given up its star recruit Evan Burns to San Diego St., and having to travel to San Diego in order to watch good local football games (since true UCLA fans would never be caught dead in red and gold at the Coliseum), UCLA has built up a pseudo-inferiority complex as the Northern neighbor of its much more successful brother, San Diego. Thus, the loss to San Diego in its season opener can be explained quite easily, as the direct result of their fear of defeating a city that owns them in so many different ways. For those of you that watched the game, it could have also been because of poor defensive switching, lack of rebounding, inability to score in crunch time or poor ball handling. You may choose any of these possibilities. Personally, I think it is because suburban backyard games have always been more growth oriented then pick-up games in the Wooden Center, or at Venice beach for that matter.

UCLA has started another year with high expectations and no results. Chalk it up to Lavin not preparing his team, or early season jitters, but UCLA has disappointed its faithful again this year. A San Diego team that boasts a starting line-up of Jason Keep, Jason Blair, Roy Morris, Travis Smith and Matt Delzell beat UCLA. Terrifying names aren’t they? They are obviously more terrifying then Kapono, Thompson, Cummings, Bozeman and….Crispin? That’s right, Jon Crispin, the man whom Lavin calls his team leader. Crispin, a man who red-shirted last year because he wasn’t nearly as good as Billy Knight, of Harlem Globetrotter fame, or Ryan Walcott, of no fame. Crispin, who started against Duke! That’s right, Duke! UCLA has started 0-2, last accomplished 41 years ago, and I want to be the first to congratulate Lavin on another stellar start to an exciting season. No doubt UCLA will be knocking on doors come March, but as of this moment, they are knocking on the devil’s door looking for a solid performer to work their offense around. Without Gadzuric in the middle, UCLA has lost its Shaq, and they look confused as to whom to go to on the offensive side. All rational people would suggest running a few plays for Jason Kapono, but this doesn’t take into account that he cannot create his own shots. The next few games will tell a lot about how UCLA will fare in the future, as they get opportunities to play against Portland, Long Beach State and Northern Arizona before getting beat by Kansas. Who is going to step up and take control of the offense? I still contend that Cedric Bozeman needs to take his skills to another level, one that he has shown at times, but never regularly.

Henry Bibby and USC

In the heartbreaking loss to Rhode Island, Henry Bibby berated the officials for the lack of a technical foul in the final seconds of overtime as the opposing team and their fans stormed the court with 2.2 second remaining on the clock. He even went as far as to hint as to the East Coast bias’ influence over the outcome of the game. Well, since no technical was assessed, and Desmond Farmer’s three pointer left his hand after the horn rang, Bibby took the brunt of criticism for his insensitive remarks about the hard-working referee team. Apparently, whining runs in the Bibby family, and we cannot blame Mike for his disrespect for the Laker franchise. It obviously stems from his father’s disrespect for East Coast referees. Obviously. What is the problem with USC? Well, they lost three starters and the Pac-10 Player of the Year. They also have played games without Rory Oneil, Errick Craven and Jerry Dupree because of discipline handed down from Bibby. Thus, it seems that the long arm of the law is Bibby, and the rest of the country must “recognize.” I hate to second guess Henry Bibby’s rationality, but I really hope he knows what he is doing, for his sake.

Washington

My sleeper slept right through their first two games with Montana State and UNLV. Doug Wrenn has kicked off his Pac-10 Player of the Year campaign by shooting an amazing thirty percent from the field, including 0 for 6 from behind the arc. The one good sign is that he is averaging five assists a game, something he was not known to do as the primary offensive weapon last year. The Huskies woes are not over yet either, with big games against Gonzaga and Wyoming coming up. If Washington starts the season 0-4, looks for Lorenzo Romar to get an extra year of eligibility for Cameron Dollar (by whatever means necessary) and bring him in to lead a team without a leader. One suggestion Lorenzo, I think Charles and Ed O’Bannon are interested in attending and finishing their undergraduate education…interested in a couple of transfer students?

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Stanford forced me to open my eyes when they beat Xavier, they forced me to lower my jaw when they handled Florida, and then they brought me back to reality when they got handed their hats against North Carolina. Stanford is a good program, but like Arizona last year, it was supposed to be an off year. However, already with two ranked opponents in the bag, Stanford is now a favorite of the Pac-10. Arizona State also is looking good after holding their own against Kentucky, without star player Curtis Mileage. They followed this with a strong victory against an always respectable Utah team. I guess that my pre-season predictions left a little to be desired.

Everybody else

As usual, the rest of the Pac-10 is fairing well against its non-conference schedule. Oregon and Arizona are cruising, with big games left against Texas, Kansas and Cincinnati. Everybody else only has one loss. If it weren’t for Washington and UCLA, I might be able to brag on message boards, but alas, I am stuck preaching to my girlfriend about the woes of playing games on the east coast, and referee hijinks.

     

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