Bruins Don't Mind This Side Of The Country
March 22, 2001
PHILADELPHIA - UCLA's motto for this season could well be 'Go East,Young Men.'
The Bruins have played six games this season after heading toward theAtlantic Ocean, and they have won all but one of them.
'It started with the split in the Coaches vs. Cancer at Madison SquareGarden (losing to Kansas and beating Kentucky), then we won at Purdue, atDePaul and then the two in Greensboro,' UCLA coach Steve Lavin said, referringto first- and second-round wins over Hofstra and Utah State in the NCAAtournament.
The fourth-seeded Bruins went home from North Carolina after their latestwin on Saturday, and got to Philadelphia on Monday night to get ready for theirregional semifinal with top-seeded and top-ranked Duke on Thursday night.
'We'll have had three days to adjust to the time zone and to adjust to thefatigue you may have from traveling across country,' Lavin said. 'We've donewell when traveling east.'
A much bigger problem for the Bruins (23-8) than time zones or travelfatigue will be Duke (31-4), which has won six straight since losing startingcenter Carlos Boozer to a broken bone in his foot. The 6-foot-9 sophomore willreturn against UCLA.
'It's good to have Carlos back,' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. 'We'vehad three really good practices with him. I think he's running well. Hisconditioning is not at the level of the other guys, but it's been good. It'sbeen a real up for our team.'
UCLA lost two of its last three regular-season games, but was impressive inthe opening rounds of the tournament.
Senior point guard Earl Watson said he wasn't concerned about Duke's statusas a heavy favorite.
'I don't care, to be honest with you,' he said. 'We have to go out thereand play the game. It's going to a fun game.'
Duke is second in the nation at 91.6 points per game, 11.6 better than theBruins, and its 3-point shooting has been at 39.5 percent, an even moreimpressive number because the Blue Devils take an average of 27 per game. Dukehas taken 946 3s this season, while UCLA has taken 521.
'You have to get a hand on all shooters to make sure there are nouncontested 3-point shots,' Lavin said of defending Duke's long-range attack.'You've got to get a hand up to contest shots and continue to rotatedefensively to try and smother the ball and try to finish the defensivepossession with a rebound.'
Boozer, who averages 14 points and 6.5 rebounds while leading the team inshooting at 60 percent, isn't a 3-point threat, but he does provide bulk upfront for the Blue Devils.
'He's going to be a presence for us, and that's all we're asking him tobe,' Duke All-American forward Shane Battier said.
Lavin isn't worried about Boozer as much as he is Duke.
'Boozer will give them a big body inside who can finish in the paint, butultimately it's Duke's style of play that is a bigger concern than any oneparticular individual,' he said. 'It's having poise against their pressuredefense, being able to execute against their pressure defense and not turn theball over and finish with a high percentage look at the basket.
'Teams that turn it over or teams that shoot quick allow them to boat racethe other way, 3-on-2, 2-on-1 breaks, and that's where they're deadly.'
The winner will play the winner of the game between second-seeded Kentuckyand sixth-seeded Southern California for a berth in the Final Four.
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer