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Notebook / Ray Ripton : Conference Turns to USF for First Post-Season Tourney Finals

January 23, 1986|RAY RIPTON

The University of San Francisco, which dropped basketball three years ago but has returned to the West Coast Athletic Conference this season, may never reach the national prominence its teams had from the 1950s through the 1970s.

But it's still the basketball lodestone as far as other WCAC member schools are concerned.

The WCAC has decided to hold the semifinals and finals of its first post-season basketball tournament in March of 1987 at USF's Memorial Gymnasium, according to WCAC Commissioner Michael Gilleran.

Gilleran said the conference executive committee, composed of faculty representatives and athletic directors from the eight schools (including Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount) had re-examined the earlier tournament format and decided to change it.

"Rather than play every tournament contest at a campus site, the four first-round survivors will come to San Francisco to compete for the title," Gilleran said, adding:

"The executive committee felt that a final-four format would bring greater atmosphere to the tournament and would attract more corporate sponsorship and television.

"Knowing well in advance where our championship game will played relieves a lot of uncertainty and allows fans, especially from out of town, more time to make plans.

"The San Francisco Bay Area was the logical site since it is a major media market, has a large population base, Memorial Gymnasium seats 5,300 spectators, and because the (conference) has its deepest roots here." The roots go back to the mid-1950s when USF had such players as Bill Russell and K. C. Jones and was winning NCAA championships.

Under the original format, approved last year, all tourney games were to be played at campus sites, with higher remaining seeds as the host teams. The opening round will remain the same, with the last-place team meeting the squad that finishes first at the latter's gym, No. 7 at No. 2, and so on.

First-round games will be played Feb. 28, 1987, and the four survivors will play the last two rounds, March 6 and 7, at USF. The winner of the March 7 championship will receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division I playoffs.

When the UCLA football team defeated Iowa, 45-28, in the 1986 Rose Bowl game and placed sixth in the nation it the final poll of United Press International, it became the fifth of six UCLA teams in the nation during the academic year to finish in the top six.

The UCLA men's soccer team won the school's first NCAA title in that sport last December. That title was the school's 48th in men's sports and made UCLA the first Division I university to win NCAA championships in eight different sports. The old record was seven, held by many schools.

Other teams that finished in the top 20 in NCAA competition were: water polo, third; women's volleyball, fourth; women's cross country, sixth, and men's cross country, 12th.

UCLA has now won 54 NCAA championships, including six by women's teams. The women's total is the most of any school in the country.

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