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ALLAN MALAMUD

Notes on a Scorecard

March 16, 1994|ALLAN MALAMUD

Marques Johnson noticed that his son Kris was uptight the morning of Crenshaw High's game against Mater Dei for the Southern Regional Division I championship. . . .

So Johnson called an old mentor and friend and asked him to say a few words to Kris. . . .

"Telephone!" Marques yelled up to Kris in his bedroom. . . .

It was John Wooden. . . .

The legend who coached UCLA to 10 NCAA championships talked with Kris for 10 minutes. . . .

"It was as though Kris had just seen the face of God," said Johnson, who played on Wooden's last championship team in 1975 and was the first winner of the Wooden Award in 1977. "Coach was a very calming influence. He got him ready to play." . . .

The 6-foot-4 forward went out and calmly scored 27 points and got 12 rebounds to lead Crenshaw to a 71-67 victory. . . .

Marques did the commentary on the Channel 9 telecast. . . .

"I had to show some restraint, but it was fun," he said. "We had a lot of eye contact. A couple of times, he made a good move and scored and then looked over at me and winked." . . . Kris has signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA, where his dad is a regular on the KMPC broadcasts. But Marques, whose true passion is acting, isn't sure he wants to do Bruin games while his son is on the team. . . .

"I'm wrestling with that decision," he said. "The actual broadcasts would be OK, but I'm not sure about me being on the road with the team. I want to give Kris some space. It's especially important for him to be able to grow, to be on his own, and not have to look over his shoulder at his father." . . .

For certain, though, Marques and play-by-play announcer Chris Roberts will call UCLA's first-round NCAA tournament game against Tulsa on Friday. . . .

"This is a tough Bruin team to figure out," Johnson said. "They haven't played well the last month and that's not a good sign. They don't have a great draw in the tournament. But they do have the talent. It's a question of being mentally ready. They were last year against Iowa State and Michigan." . . .

Another NCAA tournament entrant that interests Johnson is Alabama Birmingham, which faces George Washington on Friday. He happens to be the restricted-earnings assistant coach to Gene Bartow, his coach at UCLA the last two years. . . .

"They're very good defensively," said Johnson, who has worked mostly with the Blazers' big men during a few trips to Birmingham. "They're not great offensively, but defense can carry you a long way in the tournament." . . .

Johnson's selection is Purdue. . . .

"This will be the year of a great player--Glenn Robinson--leading a team to the title," he said. . . .

Oh yes, Marques is also picking Crenshaw to beat Sacramento Jesuit for the Division I state championship Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

*

UCLA Coach Terry Donahue's most severe loss might be that of recruiting coordinator Bill Rees, who did a great job for 15 years before leaving for Kansas. . . .

However, don't read too much into the departure of Rees. It is a lot easier to live on a recruiting coordinator's salary in Lawrence, Kan., than it is in Los Angeles. . . .

Former DePaul and Denver Nugget guard Gary Garland is a brother to Whitney Houston and sings backup on some of her albums. . . .

Thumbs up to my fellow Sullivan Award voters for recognizing an obscure sport and making Charlie Ward the first football player since 1946 to win the honor as the nation's outstanding amateur athletes. I realize Ward also plays basketball, but his work at quarterback was most responsible for getting him the award. . . .

It is refreshing to see an NBA team, the Lakers, show patience with a young coach, Randy Pfund.

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