March 21, 2000
AMES, Iowa - Lew Alcindor. Henry Bibby. Bill Walton. Gail Goodrich. To this day, those names stir memories of the UCLA basketball dynasty.
Starry-eyed youngsters throughout Southern California in those years dreamed of one day wearing the UCLA blue and gold, and Larry Eustachy was one of them.
Eustachy, who'll send his Iowa State team against UCLA in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Thursday night, grew up just east of Pasadena in Arcadia, Calif., and closely followed the exploits of coach John Wooden's teams as they won one national championship after another.
"When I first started playing in my younger years, prehigh school days, UCLA was always a tape-delayed game on at 11 o'clock at night," the Iowa State coach said Monday.
"I remember the days of Henry Bibby and players like that. It ran chills up your spine, the tradition of it."
And it made a kid want to go there and do the same.
"I don't think there was a guy where I was from that didn't," Eustachy said. "There wasn't a player in the country that didn't want to go to UCLA.
"Unfortunately, I went to Citrus College as a non-scholarship player. That's how close I was to UCLA. I went to Citrus College and was eighth man."
Eustachy might be selling himself a little short. He lettered both seasons as a point guard at the junior college, 1974-76, and was the team captain. But he always uses his experience as a teaching tool with his players.
"I tell them, I'll evaluate you, because to self analyze is impossible," he said. "I thought I should be playing at UCLA and was eighth man at a junior college down the road. That's how good I was."
Eustachy's more immediate concern is how good UCLA is right now. Based on how the sixth-seeded Bruins played against third-seeded Maryland on Saturday night, the answer is: very.
UCLA put on an awesome display of running, alley-oop dunks and 3-point shooting in routing Maryland 105-70. Iowa State defeated Auburn 79-60 in the previous game, so the second-seeded Cyclones got a first-hand look at what they'll be up against in the next round at The Palace in Auburn Hills, outside Detroit.
Maryland was the top defensive team in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
"That shows you their talent," Eustachy said. "If we don't transition defense, we'll be out of the game in the first four or five minutes. You've got to get back, find your man and guard the goal.
"Dunking the goal is an impressive stat. If you dunk the ball in Maryland's goal that many times, you're quite special. Right now, UCLA is the most special of the 16 teams left, I would think. To do what they did against a great Maryland team, it's just unbelievable."
Marcus Fizer, Iowa State's All-American, also was impressed.
"We're going to play them with all due respect, especially when you take into consideration their last game and the way they just handled a great Maryland team like that," Fizer said. "We're not going to look over them one bit, but we're going into that game with every aspiration of winning."
Top-seeded Michigan State plays fourth-seeded Syracuse in the other Midwest Regional game. That puts Iowa State in pretty good company. Michigan State also has won a national title and Syracuse has finished second.
"You're talking about three unbelievable schools, but I think we belong there," Eustachy said. "That's why we're there. It can happen in the future time and time again, we hope. It's neat. Those are three great schools, but we're certainly in the same breath with those schools."
By CHUCK SCHOFFNER
AP Sports Writer