Keating backing Bruins

KU official's son, Kerry, is aide on UCLA staff

Work prevented Larry Keating from joining his wife and two daughters today in the Oakland (Calif.) Arena stands.

That’s OK, says Keating, Kansas University’s senior associate athletic director who is confident his son’s No. 2-seeded UCLA Bruins will defeat No. 1-seed Memphis in a 6:05 p.m. Elite Eight battle and advance to next week’s Final Four in Indianapolis.

“I’ll see him in Indy,” Larry said of 34-year-old Kerry Keating, who is entering his third season as an assistant on Ben Howland’s UCLA staff. “I think they (Bruins) will win. As young as they are, they are a little older than Memphis (33-3). They met earlier in the season. Memphis was up big, and they (Bruins) came back at the end.”

UCLA, which fell to the Tigers, 88-80, in the Preseason NIT in New York, is on a 10-game winning streak thanks to an amazing comeback against Gonzaga on Thursday.

The Bruins (30-6), who were down 17 in the first half, erased a nine-point deficit in the final 3:27 and a five-point deficit in the last 1:02 to shock the Zags, 73-71, and reduce star player Adam Morrison to tears.

“It’s pretty close to it,” Larry Keating said, asked if it was the greatest comeback he had seen. “The interesting thing was, they (Bruins) didn’t foul.

“In most situations like that, when you are down late, you begin fouling. UCLA played defense. It was an interesting strategy. I think it confused Gonzaga. The last 21â2 minutes … they (‘Zags) were expecting UCLA to foul them. They were out of sync. It made Gonzaga throw it back and forth waiting for them to foul.

“You could see Morrison was frustrated. Even with the big turnover with 30 seconds to go, Morrison almost broke down right then. It’s like he knew it had slipped away.”

Despite his elation for his son, Kerry, who in 2005 tapped as one of the country’s “top 25 recruiters,” Larry was sad for junior guard Morrison, who likely played his last college game.

“You always feel sorry for a fierce competitor like that,” Keating said. “Obviously, winning means a lot to him.”

UCLA should continue winning, Keating indicated, if the Bruins continued to play solid defense.

“They are not known for defense, but it’s what they’ve been doing all year,” Keating said. “West Coast teams don’t get as much national TV exposure, but UCLA has proven to be a good team this year.”

¢ Huggins to tap talent?: Kansas State’s Bob Huggins has been a head college basketball coach for 24 years, long enough to know it takes talent – in the form of blue-chip players – to win championships.

Whether the 52-year-old former Cincinnati mentor can do what ex-KSU coaches Tom Asbury and Jim Wooldridge couldn’t – recruit McDonald’s All-Americans to Manhattan – remains to be seen.

Early signs are positive. Huggins, using connections made from his Cincy days, on Friday was able to convince’s No. 23-rated player to take a recruiting trip to KSU.

He’s Jason Bennett, a 7-foot-2, 240-pound senior from Jacksonville, Fla.’s Arlington Country Day, who is considering Auburn, Alabama, Kansas State and Michigan.

“He obviously has an ability to recruit. A five-star center is coming in for a visit,” said Shay Wildeboor, recruiting analyst for “In his year away from coaching he maintained good relationships with players in the class of 2006 and ’07 like (juniors) O.J. Mayo and David Walker. His hiring essentially puts Kansas State’s program back on the college basketball map. He brings instant credibility to the program because of what he achieved at Cincinnati.”

¢ Collins honored: KU signee Sherron Collins, a 5-11 point guard from Chicago’s Crane High, on Friday was named first-team all-state by the Chicago Tribune. Collins averaged 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for sectional finalist Crane and was named a McDonald’s All-American. Other all-staters: Jon Scheyer, 6-6, Glenbrook North (Duke); Brian Carlwell, 6-11, Proviso East (Illinois); Patrick Beverley, 6-2, Marshall (undecided), plus junior Derrick Rose, 6-4, Simeon, who is considering KU and others.

¢ Norm miffed at AD: Former Missouri coach Norm Stewart on Friday told that he did not believe MU athletic director Mike Alden should keep his job.

“I think (Alden) is finding himself in an extremely difficult position to lead because of a series of events that have happened since he came,” Stewart said. “The administration here is sometimes hesitant and slow to react to situations, but they eventually do what’s right.”

Asked by if doing “right” meant firing Alden, Stewart said, “Well, if they do that, I wouldn’t find fault with it.”