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UCLA REPORT

Walcott's Role Reduced

January 08, 2002

Enter Cedric Bozeman; exit Ryan Walcott.

Bozeman's return after sitting out seven games because of a knee injury apparently signals the end of Walcott's role as the first point guard off the bench. Bozeman played 20 minutes as a reserve in victories over Washington and Washington State last weekend and Walcott never left his seat.

Walcott, a redshirt freshman, averaged 10 minutes in the first three games after Bozeman's injury, showing ballhandling and passing skills. However, his playing time decreased even before Bozeman returned, and he did not play against Georgetown on Dec. 29.

"It will be more of a challenge to get Ryan into the games," Coach Steve Lavin said. "But I won't hesitate to use different combinations. He'll get opportunities."

Lavin has used a nine-player rotation all season. Walcott, at this point, is the 10th man.

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Bozeman started the first four games, but he has no problem with coming off the bench for the foreseeable future.

"I'm just taking it slow and learning every day," he said. "It's going to take some time."

There is no urgency to change the lineup. The Bruins are 9-0 since Bozeman was injured and fifth-year senior Rico Hines became a starter.

Although Hines has scored only 10 points, is shooting 17.2% and has missed all 10 of his three-point shots, he is the team's best defensive player and most vocal leader.

"The intangibles Rico brings don't show up in the box score," Lavin said. "He's a special player. He takes charges, dives for balls and plays with an intensity and maturity that come with experience."

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The nine-game winning streak is UCLA's longest since 1997-98, when the Bruins followed a 109-68 season-opening loss to North Carolina with nine consecutive victories.

UCLA also opened Pacific 10 Conference play 4-0 last season, the only other time the Bruins won their first four in Lavin's six seasons.

Steve Henson

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