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Morning briefing

July 26, 2008|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

New job is sweeter for Lavin

Call it job security, something Steve Lavin ran short of toward the end of his tenure as UCLA basketball coach. This fall, Lavin starts his sixth year as an analyst for ABC/ESPN telecasts and he couldn't be happier -- not only because he's signed through 2012.

It's just a great gig, said Lavin, 43.

While not ruling out a return to college coaching, Lavin said he has enjoyed developing a second career in broadcasting, working alongside Brent Musberger, whom he considers a friend and mentor.

Lavin, who was 145-78 in seven years with the Bruins, has grown into his analyst role and recently moderated an NCAA educational video on amateurism and eligibility issues that is geared for high school athletes who want to play on the collegiate level.

With the top high schoolers in the country in Las Vegas now for the Reebok Summer Championships and the Adidas Super 64, Lavin says it's a good message to be heard.

In the meantime, Lavin said Baron Davis, whom he coached in Westwood, will be a hit back in his hometown.

"Because of Baron's age and his NBA experience, I believe he's now mature enough to handle the challenges that come with returning to his hometown as a celebrity. No doubt he has a lot of friends who will want to be along for the ride. I'll hit him up for some tickets."

Trivia time

How many times did Lavin have UCLA in the Sweet 16?

First poll

Let's start now. The preseason top five in men's college basketball looks this way, at least on Lavin's scorecard: 1, North Carolina; 2, UCLA; 3, Louisville; 4, Pittsburgh; 5, Tennessee.

Lavin said that Ben Howland recruits Malcolm Lee and Jrue Holiday will fit in nicely and bring a dimension of speed to a team that has made three straight trips to the Final Four.

Hairy situation

Two-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne is sporting a beard at least through training camp.

"This is my going-to-work look," he said. "It will be with me all through camp."

Just how long will the beard grow?

"ZZ Top," he said, referring to the rock band whose two singers sport chest-length beards. "That's what I'm shooting for."

Such a deal

Anyone with last-minute travel plans to Beijing for the Olympics and who doesn't have a hotel room, don't panic. Many four-star hotels aren't even half-booked, compared to normal 80% occupancy in August, according to the London Times. Average room prices are down to $60.

Uniformly tops

Brett Favre may be a Packer or he may not, but it doesn't seem to matter to some. His No. 4 Packers jersey was the top-selling NFL jersey in the NFL's first fiscal quarter, according to NFLShop.com. Others in the top five are Tony Romo of the Cowboys, Tom Brady of the Patriots, Eli Manning of the Giants and Peyton Manning of the Colts.

Mac world

He's making a racket again. John McEnroe, who is playing in the team tennis playoffs, told reporters that Rafael Nadal -- not Roger Federer -- is the real No. 1 player in the world.

"I would say it would have to be almost like a meltdown, which I don't see happening, for him not to finish the year No. 1," McEnroe said of Nadal.

Trivia answer

Five times in seven years.

And finally

McEnroe said he likes the challenge rule in team tennis: "And why would it be bad if you're able to challenge something you think was a mistake? I mean, even I can't complain about that."

--

thomas.bonk@latimes.com

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