With Reggie Miller playing with the Indiana Pacers, UCLA's basketball team, will be looking for someone to take up the scoring slack this season.
Pooh Richardson, a junior guard coming off a summer with the Pan American team, is a likely candidate. And he says that he will be scoring more. But he also says that the 30 points that Reggie used to score probably will be spread around to everybody on the floor.
So maybe the Bruins will be a better all-around team without Miller? Richardson gave his raised eyebrow look of incredulity and said, "Oh, I don't know about that."
The Bruins are the defending Pacific 10 champions, both from the regular season and from the conference tournament, but they are not making any rash promises until they see just how this team plays without Miller.
After three days of practice, UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard has concluded: "Our first five or six or seven players will be quicker, bigger and stronger than what we had a year ago, but the one element we don't have is the specialty bomb of Reggie Miller.
"We'll be playing a little closer to the basket."
UCLA will be sending a pretty big team onto the court this season, no matter which of the Bruins eventually make the starting lineup.
At this point, the positions that are wrapped up are Richardson's play-making spot, Dave Immel's shooting guard spot and Charles Rochelin's forward spot. Richardson is 6-1, Immel is 6-4 and Rochelin is 6-7 1/2.
Sophomores Kevin Walker (6-8) and Greg Foster (7-0) are challenging for the starting center spot vacated by Jack Haley. And 6-8 senior Craig Jackson, 6-8 sophomore Trevor Wilson and Walker are in contention for the forward spot left vacant by Miller.
Kelvin Butler, a 6-7 senior, adds more depth to the front line.
Hazzard is concerned, primarily, with depth at guard. The Bruins also lost Montel Hatcher from last year's team. Hazzard, though, has high hopes for freshman Gerald Madkins as the third guard.
The biggest surprise for the Bruins this season has been Keith Owens, a walk-on from Encino Birmingham High School. Owens and his family came by to see Hazzard after Owens was admitted to school and Hazzard granted him a tryout.
"I can't believe he wasn't recruited," Hazzard said. "He was 6-5 when he came to see us last spring and now he's 6-8. He's a pretty good shooter and he can rebound. He has real long arms. He'll be an asset for us this season."
Richardson agrees that Owens will help. In fact, Richardson named almost everyone on the team when he was asked who will be picking up the scoring slack.
"We'll be more team-oriented," Richardson said. "A lot more people will be scoring.
"These days, scoring really is not a problem. Everyone can put the ball in the basket. When you come up, through junior high school and high school, that's how people want to judge whether you can play or not. They think that's what it's all about. So everyone can score."
Bruin Notes Co-captains for this season, appointed by Coach Walt Hazzard, are senior forward Craig Jackson and senior guard Dave Immel. . . . Guard Rod Palmer, who would have been a junior, has withdrawn for at least one season to attend Compton Junior College and work on his grades. He is expected to be back at UCLA in summer school next year. . . . Hazzard said he is considering using the open scholarship for walk-on Keith Owens. . . . UCLA will play its intra-squad game at Pauley Pavilion Nov. 12 and will play at home against the Swedish national team Nov. 17. The Bruins' opener is against Oral Roberts Nov. 20 at Pauley Pavilion in the first round of the preseason Big Apple NIT. UCLA's nonconference schedule includes games at Pauley Pavilion against Temple, St. John's and North Carolina, and games on the road against Louisville and Notre Dame.