Pac-10 given due credit

No four letters in a sequence disgust me more than those assembled to spell U-C-L-A.

I hate their annoying repetitive fight song. I hate the slew of crybabies they bring in to play basketball (i.e. Reggie Miller, Trevor Wilson and Don MacLean). I hate their baby blue and gold uniforms, clearly the ugliest color combination assembled for any university's teams.

In essence, I hate UCLA. I have always hated UCLA. I will always hate UCLA.

But if the Bruins cut down the nets tonight after winning their 11th national championship, I will be satisfied with college basketball's outcome this season.

In fact, UCLA is the easy choice.

Why, you ask? For a number of reasons.

With all the talk of the Atlantic Coast Conference's brilliance (they've won three of the last four) and constant praise doled out to the Big Ten (who knows why?), it's time Pacific 10 Conference basketball finally gets some credit.

This was supposed to be the conference's year, but only two of the five Pac-10 teams made it to the Sweet 16 and now the Bruins are the last left standing. A UCLA victory guarantees the Pac-10 automatic recognition beyond Final Four appearances. It's about time.

John Wooden, who won a record 10 titles at the UCLA helm, will get to see that the program he built to national prominence still can ascend to such levels. His interest in the sport dissipated after the passing of his wife, but with the Bruins' recent success, he has returned as a UCLA fan. Not only was he successful, he was classy and a great motivator of some extremely dominant teams. His contributions to the game will be better remembered should the Bruins prevail tonight.

The Wildcats will be vindicated somewhat for what amounts to a season that didn't live up to the Final Four expectations they created the previous year. Two of Arizona's losses were to the Bruins, who will seem even mightier with the national title. People will forget the conference's early exits if one team wins it all. But either way, at least one Pac-10 team will be playing on Monday.

Generation X can add to the debate when older generations talk about the great UCLA teams. Anyone alive during the span of 12 years when the Bruins picked up their titles has stories to tell about those great teams who were led by the likes of Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton. Granted, no one will ever see such domination again, but a Bruin title this season will give others a chance to see what it's like when a UCLA team walks away with a title. This Bruin team is at least somewhat comparable to the greats.

Frankly, the Bruins are fun to

watch. They run rather than set up in that monotonous half-court offense employed by what seems to be the majority of teams. Tyus Edney is an outstanding point guard, and the O'Bannon brothers (Ed and Charles) are versatile and how often do you see two brothers in college working together to accomplish anything other than polishing off a keg?

George Zidek lends an international flavor but more importantly, he knocked off Big Country from the title game. And the supporting cast of J.R. Henderson, Cameron Dollar and especially Toby Bailey is talented. There are no real crybabies in this lot.

Finally, how can anyone outside of the state of Arkansas root for the Razorbacks?

Only the great teams deserve to repeat and this doesn't look like a great team.

Their mascot is a hog, and their biggest supporter is a guy that jumped on the bandwagon after he was elected governor of that state. Not to get too political, but Clinton went to Georgetown and you didn't see him wearing navy and gray while cheering on John Thomp-son's team. (Sounds along the same lines of avoiding the draft but later praising the D-Day veterans' courage on the 50th anniversary.)

Outside of Corliss Williamson, likely a future NBA superstar, this motley group is a strange mixture of talents resembling the Fat Albert Gang. And seriously, one of their players (center Dwight Stewart) really does look out of shape.

Watching UCLA win anything is never pleasant, but this year, for the sake of the aforementioned, it will truly be a good thing.

It was 20 years ago that the Bruins last won a national championship in basketball, and if they do win tonight, it will hopefully be at least another 20 before they do it again.

So let them enjoy it while they can. Let their mascot run around the floor and their band play that tune that never seems to end. We'll only have to put up with it for the time being before we turn our attention to the football season.

Eric Wein is a journalism senior and the assistant sports editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. His columns appear periodically.

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