When one thinks of college basketball dynasties, UCLA is at the top of the list. Beginning in 1964 and running through 1975, the Bruins captured a record 10 national championships under Head Coach John Wooden, who also had four undefeated squads. In 1995, UCLA added an 11th banner with Jim Harrick at the helm.
All this must seem like a distant memory for UCLA fans and alumni. There was a time when UCLA hoops meant Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson, Walt Hazzard, Lew Alcindor [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar], Lucius Allen, Mike Warren, Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes and David Meyers.
These players turned UCLA into a national powerhouse. This season has been a huge disappointment, but I still made my way to the venerable Sports Arena last Wednesday night and witnessed a 64-54 victory over USC in a Pacific 12 Conference game.
The star-power high school talent that once dreamed of playing at Pauley Pavilion has in recent years opted for other schools.
And those who did choose UCLA like power forward Reeves Nelson, last season’s leading scorer and rebounder, were sent packing by Head Coach Ben Howland midway through the campaign after violating team rules more than once. Some left early for the NBA.
Based on their record, it’s unlikely the Bruins (15-12) will participate in the NCAA Tournament, but the National Invitational tourney seems reasonable.
Still, there are a few rays of hope like Travis Wear and David Wear, along with sophomore shooting guard Tyler Lamb.
The Wear brothers are twins, stand 6-foot-10, and can shoot from 20-feet or dominate in the low post. After a one-year stay at the University of North Carolina, both returned to their Southern California roots where they starred at Mater Dei High.
Sophomore power forward David Wear scored a team-best 16 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds against the Trojans, while Travis Wear dropped 14 points with 11 boards.
Lamb tallied four points, grabbed five rebounds, but scored a team-high 18 points with four assists and six rebounds in a 66-63 loss to St. John’s on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
UCLA vaulted to a 6-0 lead with 17:24 left as David Wear scored, and went on a 13-6 run. When senior guard Jerime Anderson (14 points with five assists and five rebounds) hit a bucket and 6:35 showing it became 23-8. Anderson’s baseline jumper gave UCLA a 31-16 lead at the intermission.
Anderson’s three-pointer with 18:39 showing in the second half made it 36-16, however the Trojans went on a 9-2 spurt.
The Bruins outscored the Trojans 8-3 over the next few minutes and led 46-28 after Anderson canned a hoop and free throw with 13:07 left.
Norman Powell’s three-pointer made it 49-28 with 12:18 left and forced a USC time out.
The Trojans went on a 7-2 burst and when sophomore point guard Maurice Jones (eight points and four assists) nailed a three-pointer with 9:23 showing, it became 51-35 as the Bruins called their own time out.
UCLA led 55-37 with 8:16 left as Travis Wear scored on a follow-up, and USC got no closer than 10 points in the final minutes.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.