July 2, 2001
And no wonder the Bruins are poised for a strong run in 2001-02. For the upcoming season, Lavin, entering his sixth year as the Bruin head coach, returns four starters (seniors, 6-11 center Dan Gadzuric, 6-7 forward Matt Barnes and 6-5 guard Billy Knight, along with 6-7 junior forward Jason Kapono), six other lettermen (including seniors, 6-3 guard Ray Young and 6-4 guard/forward redshirt Rico Hines, along with 6-9 sophomore center/forward T. J. Cummings), two eligible sophomore transfers, (6-7 forward Spencer Gloger (Princeton) and 6-10 center John Hoffart (Cal Poly-SLO), two freshmen redshirts (6-2 guard Ryan Walcott and 6-7 forward Josiah Johnson) and a freshman recruiting class rated one of the best in the nation (6-6 guard Cedric Bozeman, 6-8 forward Andre Patterson and 6-6 guard/forward Dijon Thompson).
"Since becoming head coach, it's the first time we've had real stability," said Lavin, the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year. "We now have balance, stability and continuity in each class."
The Bruins will even have a new look on their staff. Gerald Madkins, who as a UCLA senior guard in 1992 helped lead the Bruins to the NCAA "Elite Eight", joined the Bruins as an assistant coach in June, replacing Michael Holton. Holton, who served five years on the Bruin staff and helped lead UCLA to the 1980 Final Four title game as a freshman starting guard, left in April to become the new head coach at the University of Portland.
Last season, the Bruins were 23-9 overall, placed third in the Pacific-10 with a 14-4 mark and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the "Sweet 16" before losing to eventual National Champion Duke, 76-63. UCLA is one of just four schools to reach the NCAA "Sweet 16" four times in the last five seasons. Overall, the Bruins have won 20+ games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the last 13 consecutive years.
Four Starters Returning
Both Kapono and Gadzuric decided in the spring to remain at UCLA and not enter this summer's NBA Draft. For the last two seasons, Kapono has been the Bruins' leading scorer (2001, 17.2, 2000, 16.0), top three-point shooter (2001, 45.7, 84-184, 2000, 47.4, 82-173) and set the school record each year for three-pointers (2001, 84, 2000, 82). Last year as a sophomore, Kapono also led the Bruins in minutes (35.1) and free throw shooting (86.9, 133-153) and was third in rebounding (5.7), assists (2.3) and steals (1.2). In last season's final Pac-10 statistics, he led the league in three-point field goals made (2.62) and was second in three-point field goal and free throw percentage. Kapono enters 2001-02 as a preseason Playboy All-American. Last season he was a Wooden Award finalist, honorable mention AP All-American and, for the second-year in a row, earned All-Pac-10 honors. He's also a finalist for this summer's USA team that will participate in the World Championship for Young Men, Aug. 3-12 in Saitama, Japan.
Gadzuric last season as a junior established himself as one of the top collegiate centers in the nation. In 2001, he led the Bruins in rebounding (8.6), field goal shooting (53.4, 156-292) and blocked shots (1.9) and was the No. 3 scorer (11.7). In the final 2001 Pac-10 statistics, Gadzuric was No. 2 in rebounding, No. 8 in field goal percentage and No. 3 in blocked shots. His highlight contest last season was against Arizona in Pauley Pavilion (Feb. 15). Playing on an injured left ankle, Gadzuric had a career-high 41 minutes, equaled his career-high in points (22) and rebounds (17), and led the Bruins to a 79-77 overtime win over the Wildcats.
"The decisions of Dan and Jason to remain in school give us a real boost heading into the summer," said Lavin, who has the nation's best record (114-47, 70.8) among current Div. I head coaches entering their sixth season. "They will be two of the elite collegiate players in the nation. Jason is one of the top outside shooting forwards in the U. S. and he continues to work hard on developing his overall game. Dan's physical talents underneath the basket, on both ends of the floor, make him one of the most versatile centers in the country. Our starting lineup this season will be built around these two players."
Barnes blossomed last season, his first as a full-time starter for the Bruins. He started 26 of 32 games, was No. 2 in rebounding (7.3), assists (2.7) and steals (1.7), No. 3 in minutes (30.3) and No. 4 in scoring (11.6). An important element to UCLA's fullcourt press (the Bruins forced over 17 opponent turnovers a game last season), Barnes, with his long arms and athleticism, defends the inbound pass. In the final conference statistics, Barnes was No. 6 in rebounding and steals. For his efforts last season, he earned honorable mention All-Pac-10.
Knight entered the starting lineup on Feb. 3, helping the Bruins win, for the second year in a row, at No. 1 Stanford, 79-73. In that game, he played a then-career-high 36 minutes, scoring 22 points, including 3-7 from three-point range. With the victory at Stanford, the Bruins ran off eight consecutive wins after Knight was inserted into the starting lineup. For 2001, he started 18 of 32 games and averaged 17.6 minutes and 7.9 points. He was UCLA's No. 2 three-point shooter (40-95, 42.1) and in the final Pac-10 statistics, Knight was tied for fifth in three-point percentage. This summer, he will tour the Ivory Coast with an Athletes in Action all-star team.
"These four returning starters will be the core of our team next season," said Lavin, who is one of just three college coaches in the U. S. to lead their team to four NCAA "Sweet 16" appearances in the last five years "No one has improved more in the last year than Matt, and Billy is a veteran performer who can consistently score from three-point range. Matt and Billy are proven talents and true team players. As starters last season they matured, made us a stronger team and helped us win games. Everything starts with this group of four returning starters."
Six Returning Lettermen
Along with seniors Young, Hines and 6-5 Todd Ramasar, and sophomore Cummings, UCLA's other returning lettermen are 6-3 sophomore Janou Rubin and 6-4 junior Sam Nelson.
Young last season started seven of 31 games, averaging 22.8 minutes, 7.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Last season his bests included - a career-high 38 minutes vs. UC Santa Barbara and Georgia Tech, a season-high 20 points vs. Kentucky, a career-high nine rebounds at Arizona and a career-high six assists vs. UC Santa Barbara.
Hines was held out last season after right knee surgery on Nov. 1. He has been a consistent performer for the Bruins since his freshman season of 1997-98, appearing in 72 games, starting 15 and averaging 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds a game. Hines is a veteran who will bring experience and depth to the Bruin lineup in 2001-02.
Cummings, the son of NBA and DePaul great Terry Cummings, burst onto the collegiate scene in a big way last season vs. Kansas, getting a season-best 24 points and seven rebounds in a Coaches vs. Cancer contest at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9. For the season, he appeared in 32 games, started six, and averaged 6.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. He earned first-team All-Pac-10 Freshman honors.
Rounding out the returning lettermen are Ramasar, a four-year veteran in the Bruin program (he redshirted in 1999-00 because of a shoulder injury), Rubin, who lettered last season as a freshman walkon and Nelson, who lettered as a sophomore walkon. Nelson suffered a season-ending left knee injury (that required surgery) in a practice before the Duke contest and his status for this season in unknown at this time.
"Our returning lettermen will provide us experience and depth," said Lavin, one of only two coaches since the NCAA Tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to lead his team to the "Sweet 16" in each of his first two years. "Hines will be one of our senior leaders who can help guide our incoming freshmen. During his career, Young has helped us win some big games and Cummings last season was one of the nation's top freshman."
Two Eligible Sophomore Transfers
Gloger and Hoffart will be eligible sophomores this season after sitting out last year because of transfers (Gloger from Princeton and Hoffart from Cal Poly-SLO).
Gloger, a proven outside shooting threat, was a freshman starter at Princeton in 1999-00. He started 28 games for the Tigers, set Princeton freshman records in season three-pointers (65) and single-game points (34) and tied the Ivy League record with 10 three-pointers in a game. As a freshman, he earned honorable mention All-Ivy League.
Hoffart was a freshman center at Cal-Poly SLO in 1999-00, appearing in 26 games, including 15 Big West contests, and starting on seven occasions. He will provide depth to the Bruin frontline this season.
"Both Spencer and John gained valuable experience last season as members of our practice team," said Lavin, who last season reached the 100-win mark the second-fastest in school history. "Spencer's outside shooting ability will contribute immediately next season and John will give us another big man presence on the front line."
Two Eligible Freshmen Redshirts
The Bruins redshirted two freshmen last season - Walcott (cousin to Sacramento Kings standout and former Arizona point guard Mike Bibby) and Johnson (son of NBA and Bruin great Marques Johnson). Johnson was held out after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot on Oct. 27.
Walcott as a senior prep point guard helped lead Phoenix's Shadow Moutain HS to the 2000 Arizona 5A State Championship. Johnson as a senior at Montclair Prep in Van Nuys during the 1999-00 season, averaged 24.2 points and 12.5 rebounds and earned USA Today honorable mention prep All-American. Josiah's older brother Kris was a Bruin standout from 1995-98.
"Like Gloger and Hoffart, both Ryan and Josiah became an integral part of our program last year and learned our system as they played on our practice team," said Lavin. "With that year of experience, both players have a chance to make a significant contribution to this year's club."
Elite Recruiting Class
Leading this year's new group will be Bozeman, a 2001 McDonald's All-American (he scored eight points in the West's 131-125 victory over the East). As a senior last season at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Bozeman averaged nearly 20 points, six rebounds and over five assists a game, while shooting 55.2 from the field. He led Mater Dei to the Div. I State title and a 33-2 overall record. His other high school honors included third-team USA Today All-American, All-CIF co-Player of the Year and the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register Boys Player of the Year (for Orange County).
Thompson, from Redondo Union in Redondo Beach, is one of the top high school shooters in the nation. He entered 2000-01 as the No. 1 shooting guard on the west coast. As a senior last season, Thompson averaged 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds a game and shot 53.2 from the field. His senior honors included first-team All-State, Div. II All-State, CIF Div. 2A co-Player of the Year and Los Angeles Times All-South Bay Westside.
Patterson, from Washington Prep in Los Angeles, as a senior in 2000-01 was a finalist for the McDonald's All-America Game, earned Cal-Hi Sports first-team Div. 1 All-State and was named the co-Los Angeles City Player of the Year. As a senior he averaged 26.8 points and 13.0 rebounds a game.
When Michael Fey, a 6-11, 245-pound center from Capital HS in Olympia, WA, was part of UCLA's freshman contingent (he signed his National Letter of Intent last November), Sports Illustrated rated UCLA's 2001 incoming class as No. 1 in the nation. But on June 29, the Bruins announced Fey would not be enrolling in the fall.
"With these three outstanding young men, we complete our roster for the coming season," said Lavin. "All are very talented players at their positions and all have the potential to help us right away."
New Assistant Coach Gerald Madkins
Last season, Madkins was an assistant coach at Div. II California State Stanislaus.
As a Bruin senior captain in 1992, Madkins helped lead UCLA to its first Pac-10 title since 1987, a 28-5 record and a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight. He averaged 8.2 points and a team-high 4.0 assists. Following his Bruin career, Madkins played professional basketball for six seasons in the NBA (Cleveland, Miami, Golden State), CBA and Europe.
"Gerald is a splendid addition to our staff," Lavin said. "He has a thorough understanding of basketball, he relates well to our players, and he is an outstanding communicator. Gerald's years of playing pro ball have given him valuable insights from life experiences that he will be able to pass on to our players."
Watson will forever be in the Bruin record books. He's the only four-year player in UCLA history to start every regular-season and NCAA Tournament game (129) and overall his 129 games are tied for second on the games played list. Watson ranks No. 1 on the career steals chart (235) and No. 4 in assists (607) and is only the second player in UCLA history to get over 600 assists and 200 steals. As a senior last year, Watson was second in minutes (34.8), second in scoring (14.7) and first in assists (5.2, No. 2 in the Pac-10) and steals (1.9, No. 1 in the Pac-10).
"Earl Watson is the most courageous player I've ever coached," Lavin said. "To start all those games, he played through concussions, eye surgery, stitches and other numerous bumps and bruises. He has been our leader and at my side for the last four seasons. I will truly miss him."
Bailey, younger brother to Bruin great Toby Bailey (1995-98), during his three-year Bruin career (he was a transfer from Penn State and sat out 1997-98) appeared in 93 games and started 14. As a senior, he started once (out of 31 games) and averaged 2.2 points and 1.0 assists.
Flowers played one season at UCLA after transferring to Westwood from UC Irvine, where he started for two years (1997-98 and 1998-99). As a senior last season, Flowers was inserted into the starting lineup when UCLA was 4-4 and traveling to Purdue (Dec. 30). Flowers helped the Bruins win the Purdue contest and overall, in the 10 games Flowers started in the middle of the season, UCLA was 8-2, including a six-game winning streak. In all, he appeared in 20 games in 2000-01.
"These three seniors provided the leadership for our team last year," Lavin said. "During his career, Ryan had some big moments for us, liking hitting the winning free throws at North Carolina during his junior year. Last season, Jason gave us the spark we needed to turn our season around after we started slowly at the beginning of the year."
UCLA's schedule for next season is highlighted by 13 teams that appeared in postseason tournament play last year, including seven clubs that participated in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. The marquee multi-team events on next season's slate are the Maui Invitational and Wooden Classic, along with the reappearance of the Pac-10 Postseason Tournament.
Along with UCLA, participating at the Maui Invitational (Nov. 19-21) in Hawaii are - 2001 NCAA Champion Duke, NCAA "Sweet 16" participant Kansas (the Jayhawks will also make an appearance in Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 12), NIT participants Seton Hall and South Carolina, along with Houston, Ball State and host Chaminade.
In the Wooden Classic on Dec. 8 at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, UCLA will face Alabama, coached by former Bruin assistant Mark Gottfried (Lavin and Gottfried were assistants on the Bruin staff when UCLA won the 1995 NCAA Championship). In 2001, Alabama reached the NIT Championship game, losing to Tulsa. The other Wooden Classic contest is Pacific-10 opponent Arizona, the Wildcats lost to Duke in the 2001 NCAA Championship game, vs. NIT participant Purdue.
Including Kansas, UCLA's other top nonconference opponents for next season are - Nov. 28 vs. NIT participant Pepperdine in Pauley Pavilion, Dec. 15 vs. NIT participant UC Irvine in Pauley Pavilion, Dec. 29 vs. NCAA "Sweet 16" participant Georgetown in Pauley Pavilion and on Feb. 9 at NIT participant Villanova.
Previewing the 2002 Pac-10 schedule, the conference last season sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament - NCAA runner-up Arizona (Jan. 19 at Tucson, Feb. 14 in Pauley Pavilion), "Elite Eight" participants USC (Jan. 9 at the Sports Arena, Feb. 6 in Pauley Pavilion) and defending conference champion Stanford (Jan. 24 in Pauley Pavilion, Feb. 23 at Palo Alto), "Sweet 16" participant UCLA, one of only four schools in the U. S. to reach the "Sweet 16" four times in the last five years, and California (Jan. 26 in Pauley Pavilion, Feb. 21 at Berkeley). It was the third time in conference history that five schools went to the NCAA Tournament and the first time three teams advanced to the "Elite Eight". The Pac-10 owned the best record (13-5, 72.2) of any conference in the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
UCLA's Pac-10 opening series will be in the Pacific Northwest, playing Washington in Seattle on Dec. 20 and Washington State in Pullman on Dec. 22. UCLA will conclude the regular season in Pauley Pavilion, hosting Oregon State on Feb. 28 and Oregon on March 2.
The 2002 conference season will also mark the reappearance of the Pac-10 Postseason Tournament (it was first held from 1987-90, with UCLA winning the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament at Pauley Pavilion in 1987). This year's Pac-10 Postseason Tournament will be held from March 7-9 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The top eight teams from regular-season league play will participate and the winner will earn the conference's automatic bid to the 2002 NCAA Tournament.