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NCAA Tournament: Pedigree, pride biggest part of their games

TAMPA — They almost certainly won't play today, and if they do, it's a sign that things have gone either very well or very badly for UCLA against second-seeded Florida.

But at the end of the Bruins' bench are three walk-ons who have an impressive dose of basketball heritage and a keen awareness of the history and tradition of UCLA's program.

"I've always watched UCLA basketball, came to games with my great-grandpa, went to camps," said Tyler Trapani, a 6-foot junior guard whose mother, Cathleen, is a granddaughter of UCLA coaching legend John Wooden. "When I got accepted to UCLA, I decided this was where I wanted to be."

Trapani got a poetic piece of history this month when he scored the final basket in Pauley Pavilion — which is getting a $136 million makeover — at the end of a lopsided win against Arizona.

"I think it was a fairy-tale ending," Trapani said. "It started with my great-grandpa, John Wooden, asking for Pauley to be created. He got it done, and just being there was great. I wouldn't have gotten in (the last game) if my team didn't play well against Arizona. That allowed me to get in. It was great."

UCLA also has the sons of two former NBA players. Jack Haley Jr.'s father, Jack, played at UCLA and won an NBA title with the 1996 Chicago Bulls, and Alex Schrempf's father, Detlef, played 16 seasons in the NBA.

"Being a part of this team has been a great honor, just a privilege all around," said Haley, who has two rebounds in four minutes this season. "It's exciting now that we're here in the tournament and only good things can happen. It's fun to be a part of it."

Schrempf's father played at Washington, but as he looked at colleges, he was struck during a visit to UCLA of the history surrounding the program.

"This probably has the best legacy in college basketball," said Schrempf, a 6-foot-5 freshman. "I had offers from smaller D-I schools, but after I came to UCLA, talked to the coaches, met the guys and had my tour of the school, it was a no-brainer."

GLAD THEY'RE HERE: After beating Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo, who turned down a lucrative offer to coach the Cavaliers, UCLA coach Ben Howland now faces Florida's Billy Donovan, who briefly accepted a job coaching the Magic in 2007 then reconsidered and stayed in Gainesville.

"I'm glad (Donovan) stayed, and I think he did the right thing," Howland said. "… He's great for the college game ... I'm glad Izzo stayed. I told Tom last summer I was so happy he did that. Imagine right now if he was in Cleveland how much fun he'd be having. You know what, it's not all about the money."

UCLA GUARD LIKELY TO PLAY: UCLA guard Malcolm Lee is expected to play today after he suffered a head wound that required three staples following Thursday night's win over Michigan State.

"I was guarding Kalin Lucas and he drove on me and I went to contest," Lee said, while removing his baseball cap to show off his wound. "It was in a crowd of a lot of people and somebody elbowed me down on the top of my head. I was like 'What?' That really, really hurt. They (his teammates) said Josh (Smith, UCLA freshman center) did it, but I don't know. I got three staples. They took me next door to a health center. But I'll definitely play (today)."

Lee has played this season with a cartilage tear in his knee.

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.

NCAA Tournament: Pedigree, pride biggest part of their games 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 8:51pm]
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