|No lovin' expected when UCLA's Love goes home to Oregon|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 22 January 2008 15:33|
No. 8 UCLA (16-2, 4-1) visits Oregon (12-6, 3-3) on Thursday in Eugene, about 110 miles south of Love's hometown of Lake Oswego.
Love will be more than a visiting opponent. He's the freshman phenom who got away, jilting his home state for the winning tradition of UCLA.
``I'm expecting nothing but boos when I get announced. I think it will be horrible,'' he said Tuesday.
``It'll be fun, though, just seeing what they come up with. A lot of stuff will probably be derogatory, but I'm ready for it. It's kind of what college basketball is all about, opposing crowds and going and playing in hostile environments.''
Last season, the Ducks handed then-No. 1 UCLA its first loss of the season, 68-66 in Eugene. The Bruins are coming off a 72-63 upset loss at home to Southern California, leaving them tied atop the Pac-10 with Washington State and Arizona State.
Oregon fans have extra reason to get on Love's case. His father, Stan, starred for the Ducks as an all-conference player in 1970 and '72, when there were just eight schools in the league.
``He'll be in everybody's face,'' Love said.
UCLA coach Ben Howland joked that Love should expect Oregon fans ``to treat him with the utmost respect.''
The younger Love remembers attending games at McArthur Court since second grade. If UCLA was visiting, he rooted for the Bruins while his father cheered for the Ducks.
``I've been recruited there since sixth or seventh grade,'' he said. ``They probably have a little anger in them that I didn't go to Oregon, but they always knew that I was going to either choose UNC (North Carolina) or UCLA.''
Love has been prodding his teammates for their extra tickets to the Oregon game to accommodate a large group of friends and family traveling from California including his uncle, Mike Love of the Beach Boys.
Word has reached Love that Ducks' fans are eagerly awaiting him. He hopes to counter their hostility with support from his pals who attend the school.
``I've actually got a good response from my friends back home,'' he said. ``They're going to be rooting for me and they're going to be the loudest fans in the stands. That feels good to have their support. Hopefully, I'll hear a lot of that.''
Love expects a somewhat easier reception Saturday when the Bruins visit last-place Oregon State (6-12, 0-6) in Corvallis, roughly halfway between Eugene and Portland.
If Howland allows, Love plans to attend some of Friday night's game at Lake Oswego High, where he starred and expects a welcome atmosphere.
``They play Oregon City, a school that didn't really like me,'' he said. ``They did a lot of derogatory chants and brought signs to the game that weren't that good.''
At Oregon, Love will go against 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward Maarty Leunen, a friend from years ago. Leunen averages 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and shoots 49 percent from 3-point range.
Love averages 18 points and 10.8 rebounds in Pac-10 play, tops among the Bruins. He's had nine double-doubles in 18 games. Love is 1 inch taller and 51 pounds heavier than Leunen.
``I want to go in there, get a ton of rebounds, get the ball in the low post, try to do some things on offense, get the ball to open teammates,'' Love said. ``I don't want to do anything special.''
He'll leave that to the home fans.