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UCLA REPORT

Success Could Be Set in Motion

February 28, 2002|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Recent UCLA opponents have gotten queasy from the motion created by the Bruins' relatively new four-out, one-in offense.

The motion attack keyed victories over USC, Arizona and Stanford and will be used extensively the rest of the season.

The primary differences from the new offense and structured 1-4 alignment the Bruins used most of the season are the dearth of set plays and the room in the paint for center Dan Gadzuric to operate.

"The motion has a two-guard front, it distorts the defense and gets us good spacing," Coach Steve Lavin said. "It's like a series of broken plays in football and it creates problems for opponents.

"Some coaches aren't comfortable with it because it gives players too much freedom."

Lavin has grown to like it because he trusts the veterans to make sound decisions and the four freshmen are free to play without thinking too much.

Also, nearly any combination of players can be used because only the center has a singular role.

The biggest concern with a motion offense is too many turnovers from the lack of structure, but the Bruins have had about the same number regardless of the offense they employ.

If a shot isn't taken in the first 25 seconds or so, the motion gives way to set plays.

"The value of having both in your arsenal is you can adjust to different matchups," Lavin said.

*

As he did last season, Gadzuric has gained late-season momentum. The 6-foot-11 senior is averaging 14.7 points and 9.3 rebounds over the last seven games and has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 13.

Beginning with an upset of Kansas on Jan. 12, his only poor performances came at Villanova and at Oregon.

"Dan is playing as well as any post presence in the country," Lavin said.

Gadzuric's shot-blocking has improved--he had three at California and three more at Stanford last week--and he is staying out of foul trouble, playing at least 32 minutes in seven of the last nine games.

Late last season he went on a similar tear, scoring in double figures and grabbing at least eight rebounds in eight of the last nine games.

TONIGHT

vs. Oregon State, 7:30

Site--Pauley Pavilion.

Radio--KXTA (1150, 850).

Records--UCLA 18-9, 10-6, Oregon State 12-15, 4-12.

Update--Beaver senior guard Brandon Payton, half brother of NBA guard Gary Payton, is averaging 20.3 points over the last three games, shooting 23 for 39 (.590) from the field, nine for 16 (.563) from three-point range. Payton replaced Jimmie Haywood, who quit, in the starting lineup. Forward Brian Jackson, the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder, also quit last week but returned. Coach Ritchie McKay said Jackson will start against UCLA. Forward Philip Ricci is the team's leading scorer at 16.2 and rebounder at 6.8. Oregon State's point total of 91 in a victory over Washington State on Saturday was the first time the Beavers reached 90 in a Pacific 10 Conference game since 1995.

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