After a long holiday break, the UCLA basketball team will open its Pacific 10 season tonight at Pauley Pavilion against Oregon and will play Saturday, also at home, against Oregon State.
The Bruins have juggled their lineup twice during the nonconference season. They are entering conference competition with a record of 5-2 and with a lineup that seems to be set for a while.
UCLA has won its last two games since settling upon a starting lineup that includes junior Reggie Miller and sophomore Kelvin Butler at forwards, sophomore Craig Jackson at center instead of Jack Haley, and junior Montel Hatcher and freshman Pooh Richardson at guards. Richardson has replaced Corey Gaines in the starting lineup.
"Corey Gaines will continue to help us a lot," UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard said. "I like to have that punch coming off the bench. Corey understands. He respects Pooh's talent. He just wants to do everything he can to help the team."
As for whether his young, newly organized team is ready to open conference play, Hazzard is not so sure.
He's making no promises about winning the conference title. "I don't have that kind of confidence now," Hazzard said. "I think we'll be competitive in our conference. Winning the Pac-10 title is always a goal for us. But I think it's a long-range goal at this point."
UCLA should challenge for the title. Washington State has almost everyone back and Washington has the only standout center in the league in Chris Welp. Arizona also has looked good early, and Oregon State can never be counted out. Hazzard also throws in USC as a contender.
"We're a young team, but our conference, as a whole, is still young," Hazzard said. "Our best years, as a conference, are ahead of us."
Oregon (5-5) finished seventh in the Far West tournament with a 91-60 victory Sunday night over Tennessee Tech.
Oregon is a little hard to figure. Oregon played well in losing at Notre Dame, 72-63, and Oregon beat Brigham Young but lost to Boston University and Tampa, a Division II team.
Oregon State is coming to Pauley Pavilion with a record of 5-4 overall, 1-0 in the conference after beating USC. Oregon State was third in the Far West tournament.
UCLA's game against Oregon tonight at 7:30 p.m. will be broadcast on radio, KMPC (710). The Oregon State game will begin Saturday at 3 p.m. . . . Oregon was 8-10 in the Pac-10 and finished sixth last season. Three starters--center Jerry Adams (a forward last season) and guards Anthony Taylor and Rick Osborn--return from that club. Taylor leads the team in scoring with an average of 17 points a game. . . . Oregon State was 12-6 in the Pac-10 and finished tied for third place with UCLA and Arizona last season. Oregon State also returns three starters--forward Steve Woodside (who played center last season), forward Tyrone Miller and guard Darryl Flowers. . . . Eligible for Oregon State this season is 6-10 center Jose Ortiz, who played for the Puerto Rico national team in the 1984 Olympic games. . . . UCLA forward Reggie Miller leads the team and the Pac-10 in scoring with an average of 24 points a game. He's shooting .570 from the field and .868 from the free-throw line. . . .UCLA guard Montel Hatcher, who missed three weeks of fall camp and played sparingly early in the season because of a pulled muscle in his leg, is "about 85 or 90%."