Tobacco Road has Arizona smoking Pac-10 is ACC's equal except in TV time, 'Cats say

NCAA notebook

March 19, 1998|By Paul McMullen and Ken Murray | Paul McMullen and Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Maybe they're a bit sensitive about the issue, since two of their three nonconference losses were to Atlantic Coast Conference teams, but the Arizona Wildcats bristle when they hear ACC propaganda.

"Why can some leagues have teams below .500 expect to be in the NCAA tournament, and a team like Washington have to go 11-7 [in the Pac-10] just to get in?" coach Lute Olson said here yesterday. "I think a lot of it has to do with the time-zone problem, and that's something we're never going to overcome. How many West Coast teams do you see on national television?"

Plenty, come NCAA tournament time. The Pac-10 has produced two of the past three NCAA champions, while the ACC hasn't had a title since 1993. The Pac-10 was the only conference to put four teams in the Sweet 16 last season, and it has repeated that distinction.

The Pac-10 has an 8-0 record in the NCAA tournament this year, compared to 7-2 for the ACC.

"How much respect do they have for a team which loses at USC?" Olson said, alluding to Arizona's only loss in its past 23 games. "You get beat at Oregon, it's horrible. You get beat at Georgia Tech, that's OK. I don't understand it."

Shooting guard Miles Simon, meanwhile, got in another dig.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see two teams from the Pac-10 in the Final Four," he said. "The way Stanford is playing, I wouldn't be surprised to see them there."

Western history lesson

Maryland's veterans don't have as fond memories here. The Terps lost to UCLA, 73-63, at the Pond on Dec. 9, 1995.

Rodney Elliott made five of eight shots. Terps fans looking for an omen should note that Arizona's all-time NCAA record against No. 4 seeds is 0-1. The Wildcats were No. 1 in the West in 1989, when No. 4 seed UNLV beat them in, yes, a regional semifinal.

Different style for UNC

North Carolina's Antawn Jamison identified a big difference between Tar Heels coach Bill Guthridge and his legendary predecessor, Dean Smith: Guthridge allows players to talk in the huddle.

"When we're in huddles, Coach Guthridge lets players talk a lot," Jamison said. "With Coach Smith, he was the guy talking, saying, 'Do this, do that.' Coach Guthridge said we're a smart team and he wants our input."

Interestingly, Guthridge issued a disclaimer on Smith's behalf.

"He always let players talk, too," Guthridge said. "They might have been more intimidated to talk up [under Smith]."

Like father, like son

When Washington guard Donald Watts shaved his head last month in an attempt to derail a three-game losing streak, it brought out inevitable comparisons to his father, Slick Watts, who was among the first in the NBA to play with a shaved scalp.

The comparison wasn't flattering to the younger Watts, who has since grown back his hair.

"I shaved my head to get a new beginning," he said. "It wasn't something I wanted to keep. That's not cute, as far as I'm concerned. When I did it, I kind of forgot my dad was a pioneer doing that."

Et cetera

When Utah coach Rick Majerus met the media, he had a bandage on his chin. "I cut myself shaving," he explained. "I'd like to say it was body surfing or something exciting like that. But it wasn't." Los Angeles Lakers executive Jerry West, who led West Virginia to the NCAA finals in 1959, will attend the regional semifinals. "Obviously, I'll keep my fingers crossed," West said.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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