Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bruins Deliver in the Clutch

Tonight was an opportunity for the top teams in college basketball to assert their dominance, and for the most part, they did just that. Florida won at Georgia, 71-61. Wisconsin took care of Penn State 71-58. North Carolina withstood an early charge from Duke and prevailed, 79-73. But I didn't see any of those games, because I was at Pauley Pavilion watching the #2 UCLA Bruins take on the crosstown Trojans of Southern Cal. Much like their first meeting, USC was the dominant team for the first 30 minutes of the game. However in those final 10 minutes, UCLA had enough will, enough composure, and enough defense to come away with a 70-65 win. Some notes from the game:

While Arron Afflalo will always be the heart of the team, the MVP for the Bruins Wednesday was Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who had two big blocked shots, 10 rebounds, a nice soft touch on his mid-range jumper, and the steal that gave UCLA its first lead of the game with 5:49 to go in the game.

The Trojans did an excellent job of mixing up their defenses, frequently switching between a 2-3 zone and man to man. Too often, the Bruins settled for outside jumpers, leading to a miserable 2-17 performance from 3 pt land.

Much will be made of the 31 to 5 free throw discrepancy in favor of the Bruins, however as I mentioned elsewhere, one must keep in mind that:
-13 free throws came in the last 1:12 of the game, when USC was trying to stretch out the game to mount a comeback.
-2 free throws were the result of a blatant technical foul.
-3 free throws were the product of Tim Floyd employing the "Swat-a-Mata" tactic with the Bruins in the one and one in the first half.

Take away those 18 free throws, and that makes the ref-related free throw differential only 13 to 5. Still one-sided, sure; but considering that UCLA's defense in the first half was so atrocious that they couldn't have grabbed an SC player if they wanted to, the stat seems reasonable.

That being said: it should come as no surprise that in a game in which a coach was upset with the officiating, the head ref was good ol' Dave Libby. Libby is an absolute disaster of an official. He is the same man of whom ESPN analyst Doug Gottleib once wrote, "Please stop putting him on big West Coast games. He ruins the flow and puts both teams on edge."

There were some notable celebrities and athletes in attendance tonight. Amongst them was Governer Arnold Schwarzenegger. As he hobbled by, it was very disconcerting to see the Terminator on crutches- almost as disconcerting as the bad, bad dye job on his hair. Yikes.

Many former UCLA football players were in the crowd, including Cade McNown. When shown on the jumbotron, McNown had a look on his face that said, "Yeah, I may have been a bust in the NFL, but I had sex with Heather Kozar, and no one can take that away from me. And hey Bears fans, do you think I could have possibly done any worse in the Super Bowl than Rex Grossman?"

The highlight for me however was being fortunate enough to have UCLA volleyballer Nellie Spicer standing next to me while UCLA ushers spent 15 minutes trying to find her a seat. Already charming on tv, Ms. Spicer is an absolute stunner in person. She can dig my balls anytime. (I'm not sure what that means.)

I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong, and I was wrong about the juggler being out of place at UCLA basketball games. I guess there must have been some circus renaissance in pop culture that I missed, because the fans really seem to like him. And if the fans like it, then it's good for the game. Mr. JugglerMan, I apologize.

During one break in the game, the PA announcer honored a UCLA gymnast for her accomplishments this past year in national competition. In a very surprising move, the USC song girls joined in cheering for the UCLA athlete. I know that SC's girls have been known to cheer for anyone in the past, but this was a very classy move by the squad. It almost made me feel guilty for ogling them as sex objects for two hours. Almost.

While this has never been even a possibility in the recent past, it appears that the UCLA and USC basketball teams have developed a mutual respect for each other. It's a strange, strange feeling. Fortunately, the arrogance of Pete Carroll and the incompetence of Karl Dorrell will ensure that there will still be plenty of hatred to fuel the rivalry for years to come. Or at least until Dorrell gets fired and Carroll flees to the NFL to escape NCAA sanctions.

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1 Comments:

At Thu Feb 08, 01:14:00 PM PST , Blogger Zach Landres-Schnur said...

cade mcnown banged heater kozar?! fuck! even a bust can nail playmates. aaagghh!

 

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