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6 UCLA A secret the deep, talented Bruins can't keep: They're of championship caliber

Nov. 19, 2001
Nov. 19, 2001

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Nov. 19, 2001

College Basketball Preview 2001-02

6 UCLA A secret the deep, talented Bruins can't keep: They're of championship caliber

There's a cloak-and-dagger feel to the UCLA program these days.
The Bruins' practices are top secret, closed to the media for the
first time in school history, and one of the favorite pastimes in
Westwood is trying to guess the identity of Dave Gibson, the
pseudonym used by someone whose accusatory e-mail spurred an
investigation of coach Steve Lavin last spring.

This is an article from the Nov. 19, 2001 issue Original Layout

Athletic director Peter Dalis received a missive last March from
this unknown correspondent that listed a number of NCAA
infractions purportedly committed by Lavin and threatened to send
the allegations to administrators at the NCAA and the Pac-10 if
Lavin wasn't fired by April 2. Dalis turned the e-mail over to
the conference, which determined that there was no credible
evidence to support the charges. "Believe it or not, it was a
pretty quiet off-season, compared to what we're used to," says
Lavin, referring to a string of controversies that have swirled
around UCLA for a number of years. "A little drama doesn't shake
anybody up around here. We just kept preparing and looking ahead
to the season."

For the Bruins it's an enjoyable view. With four returning
starters from a team that reached the Sweet 16 last season, UCLA
not only appears to be the class of the Pac-10 but also has the
talent and experience to make a serious run at the national
championship. The Bruins will lean heavily on 6'7" junior forward
Jason Kapono, who is known equally well for his headband and his
marksmanship, and 6'11" senior center Dan Gadzuric, who could be
one of the top big men in the country if he avoids the injuries
and foolish fouls that have slowed him in the past.

Kapono and Gadzuric will be surrounded by a passel of skilled
midsized players, including 6'7" forward Matt Barnes, 6'5" guard
Billy Knight and a pair of highly regarded 6'7" freshman
forwards, Dijon Thompson and Andre Patterson. UCLA is so loaded
that Lavin persuaded senior guard Ray Young, a solid contributor,
to redshirt this season. With T.J. Cummings, a 6'9" sophomore,
helping Gadzuric inside, the Bruins probably won't find
themselves looking up at Arizona and Stanford in the conference
standings as they have for the last few years. "Instead of trying
to beat the favorites, we are the favorites," says Kapono. "Now
we have to prove we deserve to be looked at that way."

The only spot in the starting lineup in which Lavin won't be able
to write in a familiar name is at point guard. Taking over for
the departed Earl Watson, a four-year starter and UCLA's
emotional leader last season, will be 6'6" freshman Cedric
Bozeman, a blue-chip recruit from storied Mater Dei High in Los
Angeles. When asked how he would have felt coaching a game
without Watson at the point last year, Lavin replied, "I guess I
would feel like Linus without a blanket."

Having so many experienced teammates around him should accelerate
the learning curve for the gifted and graceful Bozeman. Once
Lavin gets a good look at his team, he won't need a blanket to
have a sense of security.

--Phil Taylor

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH For the first time in several years Barnes and powerful UCLA don't figure to be looking up at Arizona and Stanford in the Pac-10 standings.

REPORT CARD

GRADUATION RATE: 36%
AVERAGE NUMBER OF WINS: 24.0
NCAA TOURNAMENT RECORD: 19-9
TRANSFERS: 6
MCDONALD'S ALL-AMERICANS: 8
PLAYERS IN NBA: 8

COMMENT: Has undergone numerous investigations, most notably one
that led to firing of coach Jim Harrick in 1996 for
expense-report irregularities. His replacement, Steve Lavin, has
been scrutinized three times in last year by Pac-10 and received
reprimand over recruiting violation. Results still pending in
latest inquiry, into whether Lavin visited with prospects during
so-called recruiting dead period. Program also went through
unseemly Pitinogate, in which athletic director Peter Dalis lied
to Lavin about contacting Rick Pitino over possibly taking Bruins
job.

GRADE: B-

STARTING LINEUP

POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT

SF Jason Kapono[#] 6'7" Jr. 17.2 ppg
PF Matt Barnes[#] 6'7" Sr. 7.3 rpg
C Dan Gadzuric[#] 6'11" Sr. 8.6 rpg
SG Billy Knight[#] 6'5" Sr. 7.9 ppg
PG Cedric Bozeman 6'6" Fr. 19.5 ppg*

2000-01 record: 23-9 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 12
*As high school senior
[#]Returning starter