Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

Majerus Is Accountable for Utah's Performance

March 22, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

Utah Coach Rick Majerus guarded his game plan as if it were a free pizza coupon.

"It it doesn't work, I'm going to say we didn't do it so there's no accountability," he said Friday.

The other reason, Majerus confessed after his Utes' stunning 76-51 upset of Arizona in the NCAA West Regional final 24 hours later, was that he wasn't sure he would do it until minutes before the game at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

The secret weapon he eventually decided to deploy was a triangle-and- two defense, requiring his players to take on Arizona's All-American guards, Mike Bibby and Miles Simon, man to man and everyone else with a zone.

If the Wildcats were going to win, Majerus figured, their other offensive threat, Michael Dickerson, would have win it for them.

Dickerson, of course, is capable of doing that.

Each time that thought crossed Majerus' mind, he tried to talk himself into staying with the Utes' more traditional man-to-man defense.

It must have been a fascinating debate, sort of like listening to Bob Knight and John Thompson argue defense, except that this one was between the right and left brains of an equally brilliant strategist.

Unfortunately for Arizona, the triangle-and- two won.

Bibby and Simon combined for 24 shots from the field and made four, scoring seven and six points, respectively. Bibby, college basketball's best point guard, had one assist.

Dickerson, free to take the shot from inside the free-throw line that he likes so much, was two for 12 from the field and scored six points.

Majerus, a big man in more ways than one, tried to deflect praise, pointing to the players sitting next to him in a postgame press conference.

"Like Del [Harris] says, a lot of coaches kick butt on the blackboard, but these are the guys who win games," he said.

No question, guards Drew Hansen and David Jackson and forward Alex Jensen gave Bibby and Simon no room to maneuver and guard Andre Miller outplayed his more celebrated counterparts at both ends of the floor.

But coaching was the difference in this game, so much so that Arizona's Lute Olson must be praying Majerus the Magician doesn't accept that offer on the table from rival Arizona State.

"Coach is a fantastic coach and he's the reason we're here," Utah center Michael Doleac said. "We're not the most talented team in the tournament."

It would have been nice if Utah's players had honored Majerus by hoisting him onto their shoulders and carrying him off the court. Maybe they felt as though they'd already used up all their miracles for one day.

*

The biggest losers Saturday were San Antonio's taverns, whose proprietors no doubt are sorry to see Utah's teetotaling fans coming to the Final Four. . . .

That, however, shouldn't interrupt our good cheer. . . .

Let's toast Jim Harrick. . . .

Over dinner at Monty's. . . .

But I don't understand how Rhode Island's presence in the Elite Eight can be interpreted as vindication for Harrick. . . .

UCLA didn't fire him because of his coaching. . . .

He was fired for lying about an expense account that violated an NCAA rule. . . .

To Harrick's credit as a recruiter, Collins twins Jarron and Jason from Harvard-Westlake probably would have signed with UCLA instead of Stanford if he hadn't been fired. . . .

The Bruins could have used Jarron on Friday night. . . .

At least one UC school, Davis, could beat a Kentucky school, Wesleyan. . . .

Olson is right about West Coast basketball. . . .

UC Davis succeeded Cal State Bakersfield as the Division II champion. . . .

UC Santa Barbara is interested in talking to Davis Coach Bob Williams about replacing Jerry Pimm. . . .

Proving there is a silver lining behind every dark cloud, Peter O'Malley's sale of the Dodgers was followed by speculation George Steinbrenner might sell the Yankees. . . .

Cablevision reportedly is pondering a price tag of $500 million, almost enough to cover the Yankee payroll. . . .

That story knocked the Derek Jeter-Mariah Carey romance off the tabloids' back pages. . . .

I finally heard from some people who liked the Winter Olympics television coverage. . . .

They live in Montreal and watched it on CBC.

*

While wondering if Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in Canada to snowboard with Ross Rebagliati, I was thinking: UCLA's Rico Hines must have been trying to carve his bread with Avondre Jones' samurai sword, Billy Packer lecturing Mike Wallace on journalism is like Steven Seagal lecturing Anthony Hopkins on acting, Utah couldn't have been too intimidated by a team that lost to USC.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|