Bruins Begin Season Of High Expectations In Hawaii
Nov. 19, 2001
However, the addition of freshman point guard Cedric Bozeman now has fansthinking of a trip to the Final Four as Steve Lavin's team begins whatshould be a promising season against Houston in the first round of the MauiInvitational on Monday.
Kapono averaged 17.6 points, and the 6-11 Gadzuric added 11.7 points and 8.6rebounds last season. Both players considered leaving for the NBA, butdecided to return and be the core of a fifth-ranked Bruins team that returnsfour starters from a squad that went 23-9 and lost to eventual NCAAtournament champion Duke in the East Regional semifinals.
'I didn't want to be known as the guy who came here and played two years andnever won a Pac-10 title,' said the junior Kapono, who shot 46 percent from3-point range last season. 'I feel so good about this team.'
Gadzuric, a senior who has yet to live up to the hype that preceded hisarrival from the Netherlands three years ago, also had the same feelings ofemptiness when it came to team achievement.
'The last three years I learned a lot, but we weren't Pac-10 champs and wedidn't go all the way in the (NCAA) tournament,' Gadzuric said. 'This is mylast year and I want to prove something.'
Bozeman, however, may be the determining factor whether UCLA is a very goodteam or a great team. A true point guard at 6-foot-6, Bozeman is expected tolog major minutes replacing the one lost starter to graduation - EarlWatson.
'That's why you go to UCLA, to play against the big-time teams,' saidBozeman, the freshman from nearby Santa Ana High School. 'I just want totake it one step at a time. I'm going to try to get better and learn fromthe seniors.'
The Cougars are continuing to rebuild under second-year coach Ray McCallum.They lost their best player - center Alton Ford - after his freshman seasonwhen he decided to enter the NBA draft. The top player for Houston thisyear, forward Kevin Gaines, will not be available until December after histransfer from Michigan last year.
But Houston does return four starters, including senior forward GeorgeWilliams (13.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and senior guard Dominic Smith (12.5 ppg, 3.8apg). The Cougars went 9-20 and finished 6-10 in the National Division ofConference USA.
UCLA leads the all-time series 6-2, with Houston's last win a 71-69 victoryin the Astrodome on Jan. 20, 1968. The winner of this game will play thewinner of the game between seventh-ranked Kansas and Ball State in thesemifinals Tuesday.