Irvine's Brooks Shows Pacific It Made a Mistake

Times Staff Writer

Take a seat, Scott Brooks--once, twice, three times--right where it hurts. In an 83-77 UC Irvine victory over the University of the Pacific Monday night, the Tigers found Brooks' sore spot--a deep bruise in his right buttock--and sent him landing on it three times.

"I was in pain throughout the whole game," Brooks said.

Yet Brooks kept standing, limping his way through 35 minutes of playing time and gimping his way to 22 points that helped Irvine to its third straight Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. triumph in front of 1,777 at the Bren Center.

See, Brooks has been dealt worse from Pacific. Growing up a few three-point baskets away from the Stockton campus, and dreaming of someday wearing the Tigers' orange and black, Brooks was turned away by the Pacific coaching staff.


"It's a sore subject with me," Brooks said. "Playing for UOP, that's all I ever wanted. My high school coach, Bill Stricker, played there. He was my idol. I wanted to play there, too."

Brooks played for Stricker at East Union High in Lathrop, a small town located "about five or six miles from UOP," according to Brooks. Brooks averaged 28 points a game his senior year.

"Every time (Pacific scouts) watched me, I had a great game," Brooks said. "But they didn't offer me anything at all."

After one year at Texas Christian and another at Stockton's San Joaquin Delta Community College, Pacific found Brooks available again.

"They wanted me to walk-on," Brooks said. "Too short, that was the rumor. They said they wanted to be loyal to their returning guards, but I heard through the grapevine that it was because I was too short."

And Brooks' response?

"I don't know if you can print it," he said. "Basically, 'See ya later.' "

Brooks, who is 5 foot 11, wound up at Irvine, where he is now averaging 24 points a game and views every Anteater meeting with Pacific as a sacred mission.

That's why re-bruising the bruise didn't seem to matter in the grand scheme.

"I had to play," Brooks said. "I do not want to lose to them. This is for bragging rights."

And after Monday's victory, Brooks was proud to brag: "So far, I'm 3 for 3."

Tom O'Neill, the Pacific coach, was asked if he regretted not signing a local boy who has scored 43, 36, 30, 29 and 28 points in games for Irvine this season.

"I would love to coach Scotty Brooks," O'Neill said. "We talked to him in high school, but at that time, we had just brought in three freshman guards, so we needed to go for big guys. We also had a redshirt, who was also 5-11. You can only have so many 5-11 guards.

"It was the same situation after JC. We had five guards, and all of them were sophomores."

So Brooks went south and, Monday, he went 7 for 14. In a sloppy, physical game, his scoring helped Irvine overcome a 44% shooting night and 15 turnovers.

Wayne Engelstad contributed 19 points, and Frank Woods and Joe Buchanan each had 13 for the Anteaters (3-2, 8-6).

Pacific (2-3, 6-8) got 26 points from Chris Gray, and 20 apiece from James Ray Richardson and Brent Counts.

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