From the diaries. Solid gold writing from one of the members of the best damn marching band in the Nation. And they don't wear skirts. GO BRUINS. -N
On the plane ride back from Memphis, my roommate and fellow pep band drummer mentioned that it was unfortunate that it was spring break and he would not be able to enjoy a Daily Bruin article. I told him that there were several other places to read recaps of the game including the Nation if he really wanted something for Bruins by Bruins. He said he wanted it written by a current UCLA student (half joking). My girlfriend, another pep band drummer on the flight said that she would write an article for him. Here it is:
UCLA Bruins Defend Their Way to the Final Four from On and Off the Court
By Michelle Kunihiro
OAKLAND, Ca. -- Move over Memphis, Ben Howland's Bruins are living up to the standard set by Coach Wooden three decades ago, this time with their power defense. As the leaders of the Pac-10 and marching into the Final Four, who can say now that the Pac-10 can't play with the best of the East... and win?
Personally, I'm a little tired of reading article after article about the Oakland Elite Eight game reporting how Memphis' players just had a bad day. Carney said it best: "Most of the shots I missed were open layups. I'm disappointed in myself. I couldn't knock down shots. I missed almost every shot I took. [They] played great defense on me, but I played terrible."
This was a game that, in the minds of the Memphis players and news reporters alike, was all but won against the UCLA Bruins.
It's understandable that, after having won against the Bruins earlier in the season 88-80, Memphis would be feeling good about the rematch. It's just plain cocky to be practicing dunking in the warm-up before the game.
"I can't explain it," Memphis forward Shawne Williams said. "It's crazy. We wore on them like they wore on us. But we could never take the lead."
I can explain it. UCLA's powerhouse defense stopped Memphis from taking the lead. Maybe, just maybe, had Memphis taken the game more seriously, it would have been a little more interesting.
UCLA snare drummer Jamie Strowbridge was behind Memphis' basket for the first half and saw the action, or lack thereof.
"Memphis came in this game 'knowing' that they were going to win," said Strowbridge. "They had won their previous three tournament games by 16 points and were not ready for UCLA."
The UCLA Bruins held Memphis, a team that averages 81 points per game, to just 45 points. If that's not amazing defense, I don't know what is.
Not only did the Bruins play spectacular defense on the court, their "sixth man" off the court made "his" outstanding presence through the UCLA Varsity Band, led by Gordon Henderson. Before the game even began, the pep band was already getting into the heads of the players, especially Joey Dorsey.
"The pep band took Dorsey out of the game before it even began," Strowbridge said. "We were absolutely an integral part in the overall win, considering Dorsey averages 7 points a game and he was held to one 2 point dunk shot and they lost by 5 points... you do the math."
Indeed, during Memphis' pre-game "dunk fest" the UCLA Pep Band caught the attention of Dorsey and interacted with the player, easily encouraging him to smile at their taunts, shake his head, and miss multiple free-throws.
It all began when Dorsey missed a practice dunk, the band howled at him, and he smiled and shook his head. After then missing multiple free-throws due to the band's hand-waving and shouting, Dorsey moved to the opposite basket to finish his warm-up.
Kenny Wood, the UCLA pep band's tenor player, gave his insight on Dorsey's poor mental preparation.
"He only fueled the band to heckle him more and more," Wood said. "The UCLA band deserves a lot of credit for Memphis' loss. The Memphis players were fooling around during the warm-up and the [UCLA] band played smart basketball and tormented Joey Dorsey."
Strowbridge added, "If Dorsey had hit his season scoring average, that would have tied the game."
The band chanted "Dor-sey" throughout the game. Dorsey made it no secret that this had gotten to him, as he asked the referee multiple times to "get them to stop," only to be told by the ref that there was nothing he could do.
Shortly after his only two points, Dorsey committed his fifth foul and shook his head from the sideline to the band's chanting.
But enough about Memphis.
Ben Howland's emphasis on a strong defense has definitely paid off. Jordan Farmar chose UCLA over all others because Howland came in selling a power defense and the National Championship. Now here they are, the Final Four, and they aren't ready to celebrate just yet.
Getting onto the charter plane home, the band cheered for the players as they walked down the aisle. Farmar said, "We're not done yet."
UCLA fans share this sentiment and are ready to cheer our Bruins on in Indianapolis.
"At this point, this tournament is ours to lose," said Strowbridge. "Our scoring has not been consistent, no team's has. However, our defense has been consistent against all opponents."
With their formidable defense and strong chemistry, the Bruins fly into Indianapolis on Wednesday with their twelfth National Championship in sight.