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After 49-Point Romp, Hazzard Finds Himself Defending His Strategy

December 15, 1987|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard saw no need to apologize for the way his team beat Pennsylvania Monday night. With a 98-49 victory, UCLA snapped its four-game losing streak.

That's the idea, right?

"Amazing," Hazzard muttered in disbelief when reporters asked if he had any second thoughts about leaving his starters in so long, about leaving the full-court press on when he was ahead by more than 50 points. "Now I'm a bad guy because we have a big lead?"

Asked why he had left his star guard, Pooh Richardson, in when the Bruins were up by 57 points, Hazzard snapped: "That's what you call a coach's decision. C.D. I had my reasons."

Richardson was the last starter to leave the court because Hazzard was giving him a chance to get some better numbers. Richardson, who played well, still had just four points and nine assists when he left with 7:54 to play.

North Carolina Coach Dean Smith probably had his reasons, too, when he beat UCLA, 107-70, a couple of years ago. But it seems Hazzard was a little irked at the C.D. that left some of the North Carolina players on the floor.

Penn Coach Tom Schneider seemed to understand Hazzard's motives.

Schneider said: "Their guys need some confidence, too. They've been banged around pretty much lately, too."

The Bruin record went to 2-4. Penn, which has just one starter back from the team that won the Ivy League title last year, is struggling on the road with a bunch of young players. Penn's record went to 1-4.

Schneider wasn't even upset that the Bruins continued to press until just under 10 minutes to play.

"Watching UCLA over the years, you expect to see a 2-2-1 press. You have to let your kids play hard. The worst thing you can do is call your guys off and have people get hurt. That's when the game turns to garbage," Schneider said.

At least this way the visitors weren't insulted by a coach showing mercy.

Hazzard argued that he did play 10 players in the first half (actually it was nine, and the Bruins regularly use seven or eight). And all 15 did, eventually, get off the bench.

Asked if he was second-guessing his decisions to let his starters play the bulk of the game and let the score get so one-sided, Hazzard said: "After losing four games in a row, you second-guess a lot of things. We just needed to go for it. Just play hard and go win the game. You try to beat an opponent as best you can. I wasn't pouring it on."

But it wasn't much of a contest, either. Lucky for the no-shows, there was no telecast of the game. Only 4,849 folks came to Pauley Pavilion for the mismatch, which seemed like a good idea when UCLA officials needed to schedule another home game and saw that the Ivy League champion, a team that had played in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament last season, would be in the neighborhood playing Irvine.

"We can't win with you guys, can we?" UCLA Athletic Director Pete Dalis said. "For weeks all I hear is how bad it is to schedule Temple and St. John and BYU. Then you want cupcakes."

It was a 22-point debacle by halftime, and the only way the Quakers kept it that close was by holding the ball every chance they got. Considering their 28% shooting in the first half, that wasn't such a bad idea.

And considering how much worse it got, they probably should have held the ball through the second half and settled for the 22-point margin.

This game went from pathetic to dreadful and on to embarrassing.

The 49-point margin of victory was the biggest for UCLA since a 53-point margin (111-58) against Arizona in Pauley Pavilion during the 1982-83 season.

"We feel better, but we're not satisfied," Hazzard said.

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