California is seemingly one of the few basketball teams that doesn’t have players with visible tatoos.
Coach Ben Braun said he doesn’t have a strict policy banning them, but he does discourage them.
"I probably do have a different bunch," he said, acknowledging that the lack of tattoos is more a product of the players’ decision than his. "Our guys just have gotten into that mode. I haven’t made any special rules."
It is bit refreshing to see there are still a group of athletes who don’t feel a need to decorate their bodies for fans to see.
Braun noted getting a tatoo in Berkeley, Calif., is as easy to going to McDonald’s for a hamburger.
"Believe if there’s a place in the league you can get one, you can walk out the door down on Telegraph (Ave.), and they’re easy to get," he said.
Braun does recall speaking to one or two of the players when they arrived in Berkeley.
"I keep reminding them that their parents might not like it," he said. "I keep telling them it’s hard to reverse it once you get it. Make sure you know this will be for the rest of your life."
In talking about the lack of tattoos, Braun wanted to make the point that the lack of tattoos shouldn’t be viewed a sign of weakness on his team.
"We don’t have a lot of kids with that flare. I still think we’ve got some tough kids if there’s anything to equating tattoos to toughness," he said. "Our kids are tough."
UCLA has a hole in the middle that first-year coach Ben Howland is working to fix.
Production from centers Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins has been in decline. Fey, the starter, is the biggest culprit.
Fey had three points, three rebounds and three fouls in 13 minutes against Arizona.
"We need them both to improve," Howland said. "That’s the key to being a good player. All good players improve. You evolve. You don’t stay the same.
"Mike has not played well from a defensive rebounding standpoint. He needs to be more aggressive. Ryan has done a pretty good job defensively. His problem is a lack of girth."
Hollins is nearly 7 foot and weighs 215 pounds.
Fey had four points and one rebound and Hollins, making his first start, had six points and seven rebounds in Thursday’s loss at secondranked Stanford. But they were outmuscled and beaten badly in transition.
"Each has strengths," Howland said. "The main thing is they’ve got to continue to work."
Washington State coach Dick Bennett coaches from a stool rather than a chair.
"I’ve had both hips replaced; I can’t squat down," he explained. "If I’m sitting in a chair I can’t get up quickly. If you ever saw me get down on the floor and try to get up you’d have a nice story."
• "I’m the best guy to play for. I know the feelings these guys go through. I know the demands of going to class every day. I know the demands that you be a good person. I know the distractions that go on that most coaches don’t. I’ve been on that side. I feel I’m very sympathetic."
USC basketball coach Henry Bibby, a former UCLA star guard, responding to critics who say he’s a tough coach to play for
• "At least around me you better show me how upset you are.’
Arizona State basketball coach Rob Evans on how his team should react to a loss
• ESPN is commemorating the 25th anniversary of televising college basketball by selecting all-conference teams by position during that period. Eight conferences are being recognized, but the Pac-10 isn’t one of them. The Mountain West is the western representative in the ESPN package. The Pac-10 declined to join ESPN in part because of the scheduling demands the network would have had. Thankfully for all concerned, the Pac-10 said no to 9 p.m. tip-offs.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Starting tight end Cody Boyd, who is 6-foot-7, has joined the Washington State basketball team. Senior center Ezenwa Ukeagu was suspended this week and next for violating curfew. Ukeagu isn’t allowed to practice while suspended.
• At week’s start, the Pac-10 was ranked No. 7 among conferences by www.rpi.com. The league only had four teams ranked in the top 50: Stanford (seventh), Arizona (ninth), UCLA (29) and Oregon (48). Arizona State’s RPI ranking was 124.
• Oregon State’s student section torched Washington’s diminutive guard Nate Robinson with chants of "Gary Coleman, Gary Coleman." Husky players liked it so much they started calling him Gary Coleman too as the 5-8 guard rallied Washington to a 103-99 overtime win with a career-high 25 points.