Friday, February 02, 2007

UCLA Sits Alone at the Top

I was at the UCLA game last night, where I foolishly decided to just make "mental notes" as I went along rather than write things down. Unfortunately, if my brain is like a chalkboard, then beer functions as one giant eraser. Luckily, the box score really tells the whole story.

It was a complete team effort, with four Bruins scoring in double figures, and more importantly, nobody was in foul trouble the entire game. UCLA likes to play a physical brand of defense. They'll bump you as you're coming off screens or moving through the paint. They'll put a body into you as soon as the shots up, and they're always reaching for the ball. If the officials are whistle happy, then the Bruins are susceptible to getting into foul trouble, as they did against Stanford. But when refs let the teams play, then it's really tough to score on UCLA's defense. By the way, Dave Libby wasn't officiating this game, and there were half as many fouls called on UCLA vs Oregon as there were against Stanford- coincidence? (Ok, Oregon is also a lot smaller than Stanford, but I still wish Dave Libby would retire.)

Staying out of foul trouble really benefited Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who was finally able to get into the flow of a game and have an impact defensively and on the offensive glass. His final line:
15 pts on 6-6 shooting, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, and 4 blocked shots in what was easily his best game of the year.

Lorenzo Mata looks miserable whenever he gets fouled and has to shoot free throws. He walks to the line with the same hesitancy as your dog does when you call for him after you've discovered that the trash is lying all over the floor. Now Ben Howland has no choice but to bench him during the last five minutes of the game, which is a shame because Mata has really come along nicely on the defensive end and as a rebounder.

On the flip side, his benching gives more playing time to Alfred Aboya who is just beginning to blossom into the player I think he can be. He still makes one or two bad decisions a game, but his energy, attitude, and athleticism are huge assets to the team.

I knew Oregon was never going to have a chance in the game when I took my seats down at the baseline where the visiting team's cheerleaders are usually positioned and there were no Dancing Ducks to be found. C'mon Oregon- it's your biggest road game of the year, and you don't bring your cheerleaders along? I know not many fans are going to travel from Eugene, but there's still karma involved. Didn't you know the basketball gods would be watching? And the basketball gods love a coed in a skirt!

UCLA had their own issues in the spirit department. Four enterprising young students opted to go shirtless and paint their chests to spell out, "U-C-L-A." in blue and gold. But two of the guys opted to first paint their entire chest yellow, and then paint their letter in blue over it. What they failed to realize during their warroom meeting is that yellow and blue, when combined, make green. So these guys ended up looking like they were covered in yellow and green- Oregon's colors! Oops.

Also...A juggler? The Bruins still have a friggin' juggler at some home games?! Really? Here's an imaginary conversation I had with a Ducks fan at the end of the game:

Me: Hey- 69-57, and UCLA's defense shut down Aaron Brooks all night long. What do you think of the Bruins now?
Duck fan: You've got a juggler who balances his hat on his nose.
Me: F*ck. You win.

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At Fri Feb 02, 11:04:00 AM PST , Anonymous Jon said...

You've never seen the juggler? He was the halftime entertainment at the Emerald Bowl.

At Fri Feb 02, 11:06:00 AM PST , Blogger insomniac said...

I've seen him at football games plenty of times, but this was the first basketball game I'd seen him at.

At Fri Feb 02, 02:16:00 PM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the juggler.
But those painted guys were extra gross from up close because they used finger paint. The student section needs to come together, though, our fans are an embarrassment right now.


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