Midnight Madness is coming to Los Angeles at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. . . .
For the first time, the UCLA and USC basketball teams are inviting the public free of charge to watch their opening practice sessions, the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion and the Trojans at the Lyon Center. . . .
"It's been a terrific off-season, but I'm going to wipe the smile off my face on the 15th," said Jim Harrick, who coached the Bruins to the NCAA title. . . .
"After all the planning we've done, I can see why they call it madness," Harrick said. "The kids are excited. But we'll do it only if the first day of practice falls on a Friday or Saturday night. Keeping students up that late the night before a school day isn't right." . . .
There will be gimmicky contests for players and fans. My favorite is one that has people out of the audience attempting to go the full length of the court and score a basket in 4.8 seconds, the same time it took Tyus Edney against Missouri in the NCAA Tournament last season. . . .
Edney has become a Sacramento King, Ed O'Bannon a New Jersey Net and George Zidek a Charlotte Hornet, but the Bruins might be a national power again. . . .
"I'm cautiously optimistic," Harrick said. "We're a young team with only one senior, but we're going to be interesting. Four guys have starting jobs to lose--Cameron Dollar, Charles O'Bannon, Toby Bailey and J.R. Henderson. I like our potential." . . .
Freshmen guard Brandon Loyd and center Jelani McCoy should give Harrick something he didn't have last season--a three-point shooter and a shot blocker. . . .
Across town, USC expects to improve. That is not being unrealistic. The Trojans were 7-21 last season. . . .
"This is the most exciting time in my life," said Charlie Parker, who has been upgraded from interim to permanent head coach. "We're going to surprise a lot of people." . . .
Among the surprises could be center Avondre Jones, back at school after a year at junior college, freshmen guard Damion Dawson and forward Maurice Strong. . . .
"I love the idea of Midnight Madness," Parker said. "We're trying to get the students more involved. A lack of student support has always been a drawback here." . . .
A fan will get the opportunity to win $10,000 by making a basket from midcourt. . . .
UCLA is banged up too, but the knee injury that will keep wide receiver Richard Dice out of the football game Saturday at the Rose Bowl could be very damaging to Arizona. Even with the talented Dice in the lineup, the Wildcats have had problems scoring. . . .
Call USC unbeaten and untested. Arizona was the only one of USC's first five opponents with a winning record. The next four--Washington State, Notre Dame, Washington and Stanford--all are on the plus side and have a combined record of 14-6-1. . . .
Ken Ruettgers, the Green Bay Packer and former USC tackle, is getting rave notices for his book, "Home Field Advantage: A Dad's Guide to the Power of Role Modeling." . . .
Irv Kaze will devote his entire one-hour sports show on KIEV Friday at 6:15 p.m. to the birthday boy, John Wooden. He will be 85 Saturday. Guests will include Wooden, Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Warren and Denny Crum. . . .
Larry Robinson loved it, but even less partisan observers must have been pleased that a penalty actually was called in overtime of the King-Chicago Blackhawk game Tuesday night at the Forum. . . .
For years, NHL officials have let players get away with anything short of murder late in a close game and during the five-minute overtime. However, referee Don Koharski called an interfering/obstructing penalty against Chicago defenseman Keith Carney. Yanic Perreault scored the game winner on the power play. . . .
Superstitious Michael Nunn, who says Friday the 13th is his lucky day, faces Eric Brown on that date at the Fantasy Springs casino near Palm Springs in a light-heavyweight bout that will be telecast on ESPN. . . .
Gary Stevens is averaging more than $14,000 in purse money per ride this season. . . .
Look-a-likes: Atlanta Brave pitching coach Leo Mazzone and actor Bob Hoskins. . . .
News item: George Steinbrenner is fined $50,000 for criticizing umpires. Reaction: He can afford it. . . .
Al Michaels, on the Baseball Network: "I thought baseball was the national pastime, not the regional . . . "
The first two letters of Tom Lasorda's last name couldn't be any more fitting.