SEATTLE -- Jim Harrick said the nicest thing about Arkansas.
The UCLA coach was up until 3 a.m. yesterday watching film of the Razorbacks, trying to figure out exactly what they were doing on defense.
"You can watch all the tape you want, and if you can figure out what they're doing, you're Houdini," Harrick said of his team's opponent in tonight's NCAA championship game. "They trap you and they press you and you never know what's coming. They do a great job of getting you out of what you practice every day."
"That's the ultimate compliment," Razorback coach Nolan Richardson said.
North Carolina wasn't quite as cordial after it was beaten, 75-68, in the semifinals by the Razorbacks. The Tar Heels said they weren't all that impressed with Arkansas' defense and depth, the double-edged sword that has served it so well over the past two tournaments.
Arkansas didn't press all that much in the second half against North Carolina, but its superior numbers -- the Razorbacks use 10 players, the Tar Heels eight and UCLA only seven, if you're counting -- had to play a factor in some of the horror-show statistics turned in by the Tar Heels.
Rasheed Wallace had one shot in the second half, when North Carolina went 20 straight possessions without a basket and was 6-for-24 from the field. Dante Calabria, who led the nation in three-point shooting for most of the season, was 0-for-7 beyond the stripe.
Like most teams that play Arkansas, North Carolina was rushed in its shot selection. The Tar Heels lamented getting in a three-point contest; the teams combined for an NCAA-record 62 three-pointers.
It's a mistake UCLA wants to avoid. Arkansas has taken 889 three-pointers this season, the Bruins 339.
"Arkansas will give you a lot of looks at the basket," Harrick said, "but you're in such a scurrying pace that it's usually a little faster than you normally play. And they're flying around everywhere with long-armed, big, strong athletes, and you know you better shoot or they're coming after you."
It's a style that isn't appreciated everywhere.
"When I took over at Arkansas, that's when all the raggedy [talk] started," said Richardson, who recounted some of the racial slurs attached to his style. "Here comes this black man who's playing playground basketball. People didn't understand what I was trying to accomplish with the style that I had already played and been successful with."
The O'Bannon generations
The O'Bannon brothers, senior Ed and sophomore Charles, had family on their minds yesterday.
Ed spoke of being a father, and how the best part of coming home from a road trip is seeing his son.
Charles spoke of their maternal grandparents, who have been regulars at their games since they starred at Artesia High in Lakewood, Calif.
Ed O'Bannon honored
Ed O'Bannon, who averaged 20.3 points and 8.1 rebounds, was selected College Basketball Player of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson was honored as Coach of the Year after leading the Sooners to a 23-9 record.
The women's awards went to Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and forward Rebecca Lobo. Lobo and John Amaechi of Penn State were honored as scholar-athletes.