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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT

The First Look

March 10, 1997

UCLA (21-7) vs. Charleston Southern (17-12)

Midwest Regional, Auburn Hills, MI

Thursday, TBA

* CHARLESTON SOUTHERN AT A GLANCE: The Buccaneers, who apparently usually play at a fast-pace, made their season with four victories--over intra-state rival South Carolina in late-December, and three in a row after a mediocre regular-season to win the Big South tournament. In between, there wasn't much glory, including losses at Toledo, to Yale, Marist, and at The Citadel. Yes, Charleston Southern played that other team in town, the College of Charleston, and lost, 81-66, on Nov. 22. That was the Buccaneers' only other game against an NCAA tournament team.

* UCLA AT A GLANCE: Nine victories to close the regular season lifted the Bruins from tournament bubble team to the No. 2-seeding in this regional--and it was done with an attacking defense led by Cameron Dollar and a motion offense that has given Charles O'Bannon the angles to score. UCLA stumbled a little bit against Oregon and Oregon State's zone defenses two weeks ago, but the players believe that the team's unselfish passing works well against zones.

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN

PROBABLE STARTERS

F Rolando Hourruitiner (6-6, 215) No. 10

F Jeff Daniels (6-6, 230) No. 33

C Mark Roper (6-8, 200) No. 50

G Brett Larrick (6-4, 200) No. 3

G Errol McPherson (5-10, 160) No. 11

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN

KEY RESERVES

G Adam Larrick (6-3, 160) No. 12

G Marlin Parker (6-5, 205) No. 43

F Andres Amaya (6-7, 215) No. 12

Though Rolando Hourruitiner came up big in the Big South tournament title game against Liberty with 23 points, shooting guard Brett Larrick is the key player on this roster. He led the Buccaneers in scoring in the six games leading up to the title game, averaging 27.3 in those contests. The Buccaneers won the conference without Errol McPherson, their second-leading scorer and leading assist man, who was out of the lineup for the last five games with a knee injury.

Adam Larrick started the five games McPherson missed--including all three tournament games, and averaged 6.7 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists in the tournament. Andres Amaya averaged 14 minutes in the tournament games. All other comment is reserved until they play.

UCLA PROBABLE STARTERS

F Charles O'Bannon (6-5, 209) No. 13

F J.R. Henderson (6-9, 223) No. 52

C Jelani McCoy (6-9 1/2, 220) No. 34

G Toby Bailey (6-5, 205) No. 12

G Cameron Dollar (5-11, 189) No. 5

UCLA KEY RESERVES

G-F Kris Johnson (6-3 1/2, 222) No. 54

F Bob Myers (6-6 1/2, 227) No. 24

G Brandon Loyd (5-10, 182) No. 20

Charles O'Bannon's numbers kept going up and up in the regular season--he finished averaging 17.3 points a game and 7.2 rebounds, both team-leading statistics. O'Bannon also made 111 of his 140 free-throw tries (79.3%), second on the team to Kris Johnson's 84.1% tally. Toby Bailey led UCLA with 131 assists--and also with 100 turnovers.

Johnson, UCLA's purest shooter, has been hobbled for most of the season with pain in his right ankle, and averaged only 9.6 points in Pac-10 games--after averaging 14.8 points in conference games last year. Brandon Loyd, the team's designated zone buster, has gotten some long periods of play in recent games, but made only 13 three-pointers in the 18 conference games.

* GUARDS: Cameron Dollar has made life hell for opposing point guards the last month, reaching and whacking at the ball whenever he can--and if Charleston Southern doesn't have all its ballhandlers ready to go, this could be the starting off point for a blow-out. But Brett Larrick went for 30 points and six rebounds in the victory over South Carolina and their great guards.

* FORWARDS: Jeff Daniels had a huge tournament, grabbing 30 rebounds, and he's going to be the first line of defense against UCLA's attack from the post offensive style--led by J.R. Henderson and, when he's healthy, Johnson. If the Buccaneers have an inclination, they might try a zone, at least to have a chance matching up against O'Bannon and Henderson. Charleston Southern must be doing something right: In the three tournament games, opponents shot just 36.9% against the Buccaneers, and averaged only 54 points.

* CENTERS: Mark Roper averages well below 15 minutes a game, and no other player taller than 6-6 averages more than nine. So, Charleston Southern obviously will have to try to swarm Jelanie McCoy in the middle--and probably will stay away from him on offense. McCoy had a huge 14-point first-half against Washington's two seven-footers, and seems to like it better against beefy guys than quick players.

* INTANGIBLES: Who knows, maybe the Buccaneers have a chip on their shoulder after watching College of Charleston get all the publicity the last few years? UCLA is focused on one thing: Making a deep run into the tournament to prove all its talk about maturing is paying off.

* COACHING: Two first-year coaches here, with Steve Lavin a perfect 8-0 since he was given the Bruin job permanently. Buccaneer Coach Tom Conrad was a 17-year assistant, including five years on Gary Edwards' staff with Charleston Southern before taking over the head job. Nobody has a clue who has the edge.

* THE PICK: The reason you want a No. 2-seeding is to get match-ups like this, against the No. 146 team in the power ratings. Unless there's something about the Buccaneers that isn't visible through press releases and West Coast Sunday night guesswork, UCLA is too big and too determined to mess up this one.

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