Reggie Miller is playing one great game after another.
But as he leads the UCLA basketball team into its final contest of the regular season against Oregon this afternoon, he’s also busy dodging criticism by the last couple of coaches he has irritated.
Oregon State Coach Ralph Miller acknowledged Reggie Miller as a great player after the junior forward had scored 41 points in the Bruins’ 74-63 victory over the Beavers Thursday night, virtually assuring UCLA an NIT bid.
Coach Miller added, however: “It seemed like Reggie had a protection society out there. His first three shots were offensive fouls.”
Meanwhile, at Tucson, Coach Lute Olson of Arizona was still riled about a foul that was called on Miller during his team’s game at Pauley Pavilion Monday night.
Referee Jimmy Clark called an intentional foul on Miller with 4 minutes 27 seconds left in the first half after Miller had caught Craig McMillan with a sharp left elbow.
Olson told reporters in Tucson: “It was a deliberate elbow. It was a purposeful attempt to injure another player. The official was wrong not to throw him out of the game. I wonder if a player should take legal action against another player after something like that.
“Reggie Miller lost a lot in my eyes. Obviously, he can’t handle frustration. A person with courage wouldn’t do something like that.”
McMillan was the player defending against Miller, even when the Wildcats went to a box-and-one alignment. But after the game, when reporters asked Miller if McMillan deserved credit for holding him to just 8 points in the second half after Miller had scored 21 in the first, Miller downplayed McMillan’s effort.
To that, Olson said: “There is such an ego there. His ego overrides the team. We don’t have anyone who thinks like that. If you can’t respect your opponent, I can’t imagine you have a lot of respect for yourself.”
UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard has no problem with Miller’s role on the team. In fact, he gave Miller the green light in the Oregon State game. He has been saying all season that Miller doesn’t shoot enough.
When told what Olson had said about his scoring star, Hazzard responded: “I’m sorry the Coach of the Year (in the Pac-10) had to say something like that. I think he’s blowing this thing out of proportion.
“Reggie wasn’t the only one throwing elbows. But I’m not going to get into that, trading barbs.
“I’m just sorry that Coach Olson would attack the character of a young man without really knowing that young man.”
Miller reviewed the tape of the game before responding to the charge. He concluded: “It was just in the heat of battle. It was not intentional.”
Bruin Notes UCLA’s game at Oregon today at 1 p.m. will be televised regionally by CBS (Channel 2) and broadcast by KRTH (93 AM). . . . Oregon’s record is 10-17 overall, 5-12 in the Pac-10. UCLA’s record is 15-12 overall, 9-8 in the Pac-10. A victory over Oregon would give UCLA the same record the Bruins had last year going into the NIT. Coach Walt Hazzard had said that he would consider an NIT bid if his team finished over .500, but he was not quite ready to say that he would accept the bid. Friday he said: “It looks good, but I want to see how we play against Oregon.” . . . Oregon is coming off a victory over USC to avoid finishing in last place in the Pac-10. . . . UCLA has won seven of its last eight games at McArthur Court. . . . Reggie Miller has led the Bruins in scoring in each of the last 14 games. He is only the third player in UCLA history to score 700 points in a season. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it three times, and Gail Goodrich did it once. Miller’s total of 716 points puts him fifth on the single-season list. . . . In his last four games, Miller has averaged 32 points, shooting 65%. . . . UCLA opened conference play this season with a 71-65 victory over Oregon at Pauley Pavilion.