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Roy Williams Gets Honor

College basketball: Kansas coach will receive Wooden Legend award. Midnight Madness starts tonight at USC.

October 11, 2002|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles Athletic Club has selected Kansas basketball Coach Roy Williams as recipient of this year's John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching award.

The announcement was made at an annual basketball tipoff luncheon Thursday at the club's downtown headquarters.

In a short note read to the crowd, Williams praised Wooden and said that he was "flattered, humbled, yet ecstatic" to be honored. Past recipients include Dean Smith of North Carolina, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Lute Olson of Arizona and Denny Crum of Louisville.

Optimism prevailed at the event, which showcased 13 Division I men's teams from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

USC Coach Henry Bibby, a regular no-show, sent second-year assistant Kurtis Townsend in his place. Legends of Coaching founder Duke Llewellyn, a USC alumnus, said that he was disappointed because Trojan administrators had assured him Bibby would make an appearance.

But UCLA Coach Steve Lavin, noting that this is his seventh consecutive appearance at the luncheon, said he doesn't blame Bibby. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Lavin said he comes to the meetings only to see which of the other coaches at the head table is being rumored to replace him.

"Every year I come here, shake hands with these coaches, say hello," Lavin said. "Then every one of them goes out and beats us."

Other news of the day came from UC Riverside Coach John Masi, who announced that three of his top players, including junior forward Vili Morton, will redshirt this season.

Masi wants to save them for when Riverside, which moved up from Division II two years ago, becomes eligible to compete in the Big West Conference tournament in 2004. Morton started 26 games last season and averaged 10.9 points.

Colleges can begin practicing Saturday and several, including USC, are planning midnight starts. That won't be the case at UCLA, Lavin said.

"We had Midnight Madness after we won the NCAA championship in 1994-1995," Lavin said. "Someone asked Coach Wooden what he thought about it and he said. 'Well, it was madness.'

"That was it. When the pope speaks, we listen."

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The USC men's and women's teams will play host to Midnight Madness at the on-campus Lyon Center tonight.

The Trojans, who lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament and have to replace three senior starters, return all-freshman Pacific 10 Conference guard Errick Craven and junior guard Desmon Farmer. The Women of Troy have junior All-America candidates in forward Ebony Hoffman and guard Aisha Hollins.

Tickets for the event are $5, $3 for students, and can be purchased at the USC ticket office or by calling (213) 740-4672. Doors open at 11 p.m.

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Staff writers Bill Dwyre and Paul Gutierrez contributed to this report.

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