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Miss Studying, Miss the Start

March 18, 2001|SAM FARMER

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jason Kapono and Matt Barnes were kept out of UCLA's starting lineup Saturday after missing part of a team study-hall session a day earlier.

The players sat out the first three minutes of the game, then waited two more minutes for a break in the action that would allow them to enter.

"I made a promise to parents when I recruit kids that their kids will be held accountable academically," said Coach Steve Lavin, who put T.J. Cummings and Ryan Bailey in the starting lineup for the game. "My No. 1 priority is to make sure these kids are making progress toward their degrees. Coach [John] Wooden always said that the greatest motivation in college basketball is the bench."

Kapono and Barnes said they participated in the two-hour study session for 45 minutes, then left together to make calls in their hotel rooms. The players are due to take their final exams this week. That's why the decision was made to fly home Saturday evening and back to the East Coast on Monday afternoon, instead of taking a flight directly to Philadelphia.

"Being dumb college students, we didn't come back after going to our rooms," Kapono said. "Lav is the head coach, and he has to keep his rules constant. He can't change it for me and Matt."

Said Barnes: "I don't know if they explained 'team violation' on TV. We don't want people to think it was something really bad. I hope it will get cleared up. We're not bad people, we just didn't communicate with the coach. That's all it really was."


Earl Watson made his 128th start, a UCLA record, and collected three assists to push his total to 602. He is the second player in school history with more than 600 assists and 200 steals, joining Tyus Edney. He also holds the school record for steals (234) and is fourth in assists.

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