On College Hoops
by: VICTOR DECOLONGON, Lake Oswego High product Kevin Love has been every bit the diaper dandy for UCLA in his freshman season. Love returns to his home state this weekend to play the Ducks and Beavers.

Love finally cometh to Eugene, except he'll be wearing the true blue and gold of UCLA.

Kevin Love should not expect to be embraced in the 7:30 p.m. Thursday game against the Oregon Ducks at McArthur Court.

A bunch of scorned Ducks fans have been ramping up, ready to show their displeasure at Love's snub of their school. Despite his father being quoted in Sports Illustrated that Love felt unappreciated during his days at Lake Oswego High, the Love train will probably leave the home state feeling unappreciated times 10.

'I would have loved having him at Oregon,' ex-Duck Stan Love recently told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 'They've got great support. But it's Kevin's life. He had to make the decision.'

Actually, the elder Love had quite the disdain for Ernie Kent. And the younger Love got caught in a sneaker war, with the enemy being Nike. So, the Ducks were never in the picture.

One can't blame Love for going to UCLA, a great place to live and play, even if it's just for one year of college. He's expected to play on television more than 30 times, and he's become an instant star in the country's second-largest market.

It's a big-time setting. He seems fine with the media attention. 'It doesn't wear on me,' he recently told the Los Angeles Times, although UCLA coach Ben Howland limits his access to the media, partly because Love took his case for more touches to the airwaves and newsprint.

He's able to play in front of the legendary John Wooden, one of his mentors.

And, let's not forget, the Bruins have won 11 NCAA titles and played in the past two Final Fours. It's a good bet they'll still be around in late March. The same cannot be said about the Ducks, although they still have the makings of an NCAA Tournament team.

The 6-10 Love's stats: 16.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game; .584 shooting; nine double-doubles, and more than 10 points in every game for the Bruins (16-2, 4-1 Pac-10).

I, for one, cannot get enough of watching the kid from LO play. Beyond his great fundamentals, Love takes the game very seriously, and he maximizes his physical talent. Look at his face. By contrast, I get tired of watching highflying acts turn the ball over and miss layups, and then mope.

It'll be really fun watching Love try to keep up with the athletes in the NBA next season.

• Jay John - great guy, lifelong basketball coach, hard worker. But, name one thing that John's teams did consistently well in his 5 1/2 years as Oregon State coach? I can't. Early on, I thought the Beavers would really be good at pushing the ball or feeding the post (remember David Lucas' 60 percent shooting?).

But so many things point to lack of coaching in that program. The enduring memory of John's teams is the clanking of shots off the rim. Again, follow the trail of coaching failure: Poor offense? If not, poor skill development? If not, average players? If so, bad recruiting?

Maybe Kevin Mouton, who will be keeping the head coach's seat warm, can light a spark under the Beavers (6-12, 0-6 Pac-10).

• Ugh, I thought one local prep team had cornered the market on poor starts when it trailed 28-0 after one quarter recently. Then I see that the Portland State women got blitzed with an 18-0 run in the early going at Northern Colorado.

The Vikings outplayed the Bears the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.

I recently asked PSU coach Sherri Murrell how the Vikings (14-4, 4-1 Big Sky) would handle success, and she thought her players would be fine. Instead, the first-place Viks came out flat in their next game.

'I don't like to lose, but maybe this is a good loss,' she says. 'We learned we need to come out strong.'

A week after shooting a season-high .569 against Idaho State (.719 in the second half), the Vikings shot a season-low .277 against Northern Colorado. The Viks play Eastern Washington at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Stott Center, and they better come to play. If not, their friends from Courtyard Plaza retirement community (as featured in the Portland Tribune last Friday) may start whacking them with their purses.

• Concordia put the double whammy on Eastern Oregon on Saturday as the men and women pulled off upsets on their home floor against the Mountaineers' nationally ranked NAIA Division II teams.

The Cavalier men won 67-62, erasing a nine-point deficit against No. 10 EOU. Concordia improved to 9-10 (5-5 Cascade Conference).

The Cavalier women beat No. 19 Eastern Oregon, 64-62, improving to 11-9 (7-3 Cascade).

• Scott O'Gallagher, Jalonta Martin and Josh Jackson combined for 70 points as Warner Pacific beat No. 6 Oregon Tech 88-84 on the road last weekend. The Knights, who played a tough preseason schedule, improved to 12-7 (7-3 Cascade).

Playing better defense, Warner Pacific, which had dropped out of the national rankings, has won five consecutive games and trails OIT and Eastern Oregon by one game in the conference standings. The league champion and Cascade tournament champ make the NAIA Division II nationals; the Knights have gone there the past two seasons. An at-large berth for the Knights appears unlikely at this point.

• The Northwest Conference men's race is a scramble, with Puget Sound getting knocked off last weekend and sharing first place with Whitworth at 5-1. Linfield and Pacific Lutheran are 4-2, while Lewis and Clark, Pacific and Willamette all are 3-3. Willamette upset L and C 82-71 last week.

L and C has two big home games this weekend. The Pioneers will welcome UPS (97.1 points per game, 13 more than any other NWC team) at 8 p.m. Friday and Linfield at 8 p.m. Saturday.

• Puget Sound guard Antwan Williams from Madison High is having a big year. The 6-0 junior leads the NWC in assists (6.64 per game) and steals (2.79); ranks fourth in assists-to-turnovers (1.50); fifth in scoring (16.9 points); and seventh in free-throw shooting (.771) and 3-point shooting (.442, 23 of 52).

• Among NWC women, George Fox has the early edge. The Bruins (14-1, 6-0) are ranked as high as 16th nationally and have won nine in a row. Puget Sound is 5-1 in conference, Whitman 4-2, Lewis and Clark 3-3 and Whitworth 3-3.

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