UCLA Takes a Trip, but It Won’t Be a Vacation : Basketball Team Plays in Miami Tonight, Flies to Provo to Face BYU Saturday
A basketball matchup of schools that would demand national television coverage and probably draw a sellout football crowd to the nearby Orange Bowl is expected to attract only about 5,000 tonight to the 15,862-seat Miami Arena.
It’s the start of an unusual 2-game trip for the UCLA basketball team, which will play a Miami team that has drawn crowds of more than 5,000 only twice since its program was resurrected in 1985 after a 14-year absence.
One of those large draws was for a game against Georgetown last Jan. 2, and most of those in attendance, a Miami spokesman said, were there mainly to celebrate the football team’s 20-14 victory the previous night over Oklahoma, which enabled the Hurricanes to win the national championship.
Obviously, college basketball doesn’t yet fly in Miami.
Speaking of flying, UCLA flew 2,300 miles to Miami Wednesday and will fly 2,100 Friday to play Brigham Young Saturday at Provo, Utah.
“This is not an easy trip,” UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said.
And not just because of the prospects of losing luggage.
Miami and BYU both favor an up-tempo game, which may not bode well for a Bruin team that could lose its legs en route.
Tito Horford, Miami’s 7-foot 1-inch center, unexpectedly made himself available for the National Basketball Assn. draft last spring and is now playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. But Harrick describes the Hurricanes as lean, quick and athletic, with a penchant for running and dunking.
The Hurricanes have scored 108 points in each of their 2 games, victories over Maryland Eastern Shore and Oral Roberts.
Eric Brown, a 6-6 forward and fourth-year starter from Brooklyn, scored 33 points in Miami’s 108-103 victory over Oral Roberts Monday night and is averaging 25.5 points and 8 rebounds a game. The other forward, 6-6 Dennis Burns of Sicklerville, N.J., is averaging 19 points.
“They would really be a quality team if Tito hadn’t gone to the pros,” Harrick said. “They might be in the top 20.”
BYU was in the top 10 last season after it won its first 17 games, including an 87-80 decision over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
Only two starters are back from a team that wound up 26-6, won the Western Athletic Conference championship and advanced to the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament, but one of them is 6-10 senior Michael Smith, last season’s WAC player of the year.
Smith, who was an All-Southern Section football, basketball and volleyball player at Los Altos High School in Hacienda Heights, averaged 21.2 points last season. Last weekend, he averaged 26.5 as BYU split 2 games in the Joe Lapchick Tournament in New York, losing in the final to St. John’s, 83-77.
He is considered one of the country’s top 10 players.
Neither game will be televised in Los Angeles, but both will be broadcast on KMPC (710 AM). . . . The starting time Saturday was changed from 7 p.m., PST, to 1 p.m., PST, so that the game, which is expected to draw a crowd of more than 18,000 to BYU’s 22,700-seat Marriott Center, would not conflict with ESPN’s telecast of the BYU-Miami football game Saturday night in Miami.
UCLA will play in the season-opening Great Alaska Shootout in 1990. . . . Coach Jim Harrick, on sophomore guard Kevin Williams: “He does exactly what the coach says. He’s like my dog at home.” . . . Harrick, on the less-than-exemplary work habits of senior forward Charles Rochelin: “I think Charles thinks his heart is going to blow up if he breaks a sweat.”
In its first 3 seasons after the resumption of its basketball program, Miami was 14-14, 15-16 and 17-14 under Coach Bill Foster. UCLA beat the Hurricanes at Pauley Pavilion in the eighth game of Miami’s renaissance in 1985, 109-64. . . . Miami has drawn only 4,378 for its 2 games this season, but 5,000 tickets have been distributed for tonight’s game, including 2,000 that were given to the city to distribute free of charge.
Although it is one of the nation’s largest arenas, the Marriott Center is not a difficult place to play, Harrick said. “It’s a good place to play. It’s a great arena.” . . . Harrick called BYU’s Marty Haws “as quick a point guard as you’ll find in the country.”