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As Bruins advance, the Loves are TV darlings

On College Hoops
by: Lisa Blumfeld, “I’m just really so proud of how well he performs under such pressure,” former NBA player Stan Love says about son Kevin, who has helped lead UCLA to the Final Four.

As parents of a famous son, Stan and Karen Love go through the gamut of emotions when watching a basketball game. And these days, they get about as much TV time as anybody, other than the players.

UCLA, led by Lake Oswego High's Kevin Love, is headed to the Final Four in San Antonio and, of course, Stan and Karen and their contingent of about 30 family members and friends will be there, too.

Anybody starting a pool on when Stan and Karen will catch the eye of a CBS cameraman for the first time in Saturday's showdown with Memphis? I say it'll be after Kevin's first basket, 1:12 into the game.

It's nerve-racking for Stan Love, the former Oregon Duck and NBA player, to watch his kid.

'Isn't this great? More pressure and more anxiety,' he says of the Final Four. 'I'm a wreck. It's very hard to watch.

'You want the best for your team, and especially your kid, but when he gets thrown to the ground or elbowed in the neck, it makes you worry. Like somebody said, his arms look like they got attacked by a pack of cats. But he's a battler.'

The nation has fallen in, uh, great affection for the 6-10 UCLA center, who starred as the Bruins won four NCAA Tournament games to reach the Final Four. Stan Love sees his son getting better every game.

'Better at defense, seeing the whole court, keeping the whole game in hand and his poise when breaking the press,' he says. 'I saw him walk to the coaches' (timeout) huddle and throw a suggestion in.

'He's stayed as calm as he usually does. His poise was tremendous, I'm just really so proud of how well he performs under such pressure and on such a large stage, knowing that he's such a powerful link for the team. It's weird speaking about him … he's playing at such a high level, such a charismatic guy. It's so powerful to see him on the Jumbotron.'

Stan Love says he rarely made eye contact to give signals to his son during the tournament games -they used to communicate all the time during L.O. games. 'He doesn't like to be coached after every play,' Stan Love says.

But Kevin Love knows where his parents are sitting during games. Karen Love says she never worries about her son on the court, in any way - 'Stan's a nervous wreck,' she says, 'and I'm a little more calm.'

She adds: 'I know Kevin's always going to bring his 'A' game. The more competitive the game, the more he's going to turn it up.'

Karen Love says they have attended every game this season except one, a Christmastime game at Michigan (Dec. 22).

These are cherished moments. After all, when Kevin Love goes to the NBA, as early as next year, no way will they try to see all 82 games. Kevin Love lives in Los Angeles with his brother, Collin, who attends Santa Monica College; the Love parents also have a daughter, Emily.

The 'Love train' to San Antonio will be full. Kevin Love's uncle, Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love, will be in Scotland this weekend, but he will try to fly into San Antonio for the championship game Monday - if UCLA makes it against either North Carolina or Kansas, Karen Love says.

'His wife and kids will be there with us,' she says.

• Grant High's Paul McCoy returned from his first of possibly four college visits last weekend, to Southern Methodist University in Dallas. 'It was pretty fun,' he says.

McCoy says he plans to reschedule a visit to Virginia and that Kentucky has entered the picture, and he wants to visit there.

Meanwhile, McCoy plans to work out for track and field, while maintaining that he just wants to do relays and maybe the 400 meters.

• McCoy's buddy, Oregon City's Brad Tinsley, has scheduled visits to Vanderbilt (April 12 through April 14) and Wake Forest (April 22 through April 24), which would leave him with two others to take later. Those two schools, along with Oregon, USC and Arizona State, are still under strong consideration for his services, father Carl Tinsley says, with Butler and North Carolina still somewhat in the picture.

USC coach Tim Floyd has plans to visit the Tinsley home today. A Floyd assistant watched Tinsley's O.C. baseball game Saturday; two Vandy assistants watched Tinsley play baseball at The Dalles last week.

UO basketball coach Ernie Kent watched Tinsley play three times, and his assistants watched him, as well.

'We may do an official visit to Oregon, but he's been there enough and met coaches and gone to shootarounds,' Carl Tinsley says.

The father expects ASU coach Herb Sendek to pay a home visit. Butler may or may not make a home visit. And Carl Tinsley says North Carolina remains in the picture because coach Roy Williams called the family about Brad Tinsley, watched him on tape and sent two assistants to see him in person.

'He called us and let us know they can't offer anything; they're waiting on (Ty) Lawson and (Wayne) Ellington, and whether they go pro or not,' Carl Tinsley says. It's appealing to consider North Carolina, but Brad Tinsley wants to make his decision quickly, by the first of May.

• Sunset High's Garrett Sim says he plans to wait until California hires its new coach before considering whether to stay committed to the Bears or ask for his release. Cal recently fired coach Ben Braun, who recruited Sim.

'I still like the situation at Cal - the school, academics and (players) they have,' he says. 'I'll see who they bring in and start a relationship with that coach and go from there.'

On Braun, the combo guard says: 'It's hard because we had talked a lot about next year, and I was excited. Now, you have to start over again with a relationship with a new coach.'

• Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny fielded questions about the job status of coach Kent last week on 1080 AM the Fan. The topic takes on greater focus with UO building a new arena and with some fans and a few media types simply fixated on it. (To me, it's idiotic to consider canning Kent, unless another proven coach waits in the wings).

Although somewhat vague, Kilkenny gave no indication that Kent would not be back, whether by the AD's choice or the coach's.

'That's certainly our great hope and desire,' Kilkenny said. 'From an administrative perspective, we expect him to be back.

'I like Coach Kent. I think his staff is rock-solid … we have some areas we can clearly improve upon.'

He didn't elaborate.

Kilkenny and Kent plan to sit down at the Final Four in San Antonio and talk about ways to improve the program. Kilkenny said he expects the Ducks to be consistently in the top half of the Pac-10, educate and graduate kids and play entertaining basketball. Overall, the Ducks expect their sports programs to 'ultimately win conference championships with some regularity' and 'win national championships.'

Kilkenny mentioned Kent in the same breath as football coach Mike Bellotti, saying 'both are really rock-solid individuals in terms of wanting to do the right thing for our student-athletes.'

• Basketball grief surrounds the California women's program, including Lincoln High's Lauren Greif, who spent last week on spring vacation in Portland in disbelief after the Bears lost an inexplicable second-round NCAA Women's Tournament game to George Washington.

With six seconds left, official Amy Bonner called Cal's Natasha Vidal for traveling while Vidal tried to signal for timeout. The Bears insisted that Vidal called timeout and did not travel, but Bonner says the player lifted her pivot foot. At the other end, George Washington scored at the buzzer to win 55-53.

'It was a shock how it unfolded,' says Greif, who adds that she didn't see the real-time play in question.

She saw it on replay, obviously.

'The last call shouldn't have been the only thing that mattered,' Greif says. 'We had our ups and downs.

'It's been rough … how quickly it happened - you're winning, then losing and then you're on spring break.'

Sports Illustrated named Greif to its 'All-Brainiac' team last week, and she also made the Pac-10 all-academic second team. She started all 34 games, averaging 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds.

The Bears (27-7), who finished second to Stanford in the Pac-10, are likely to return every player next season except one reserve. Greif expects the Bears to challenge Stanford for the Pac-10 title. 'They lose Candice Wiggins, and we got (nearly) everyone back,' she says. 'It'll be a good couple of years for the Bay Area rivals.'

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