Bumped from the diaries. GO BRUINS. -N
As we get prepared for basketball season, here are snippets from various articles on the internets from the last week or so. I just took the parts that pertained to our Bruins.
Jay Bilas on what he's looking forward to this year:
Last season, I believed as the season began that Alabama's Ronald Steele could be the nation's top point guard. Steele could not perform up to his capabilities because of injury. This year, I believe UCLA's Darren Collison is the nation's best point guard as the season begins. Collison is the best defensive point guard and is the most efficient point on the offensive end. And, quite significantly, he wins. Could someone outplay Collison and take the mythical crown? Sure. Memphis' Rose is a better NBA prospect; some others are bigger; and still others shoot it better. But, I would take Collison as my point guard any day. In ESPN's "experts" pick the Final Four and National Champion, 4 of 10 pick us to win the NC and 9 of 10 have us in the Final Four. Some reasons why: Andy Katz on UCLA:
OK, bear with me for a minute here. I continue to believe that Memphis should be the preseason No. 1 team in the country because of what the Tigers return (the starting five), and add Derrick Rose. Yet, once the season unfolds, UCLA should have its roles defined, notably the scoring shift to Josh Shipp from Arron Afflalo. Also, the Bruins will have become accustomed to Kevin Love's inside presence. Now, add in the veteran leadership of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and point guard Darren Collison, as well as having the experience of two previous trips to the Final Four, and the Bruins are in position to win the title. Memphis should have a gaudier record and likely will be the No. 1 overall seed. But UCLA will be tougher come March with the ability to defend and now score on its way to its first title since 1995.
Reggie Rankin on UCLA:
The Bruins have the complete inside/outside package despite the loss of Arron Afflalo, who was the team leader and big shot taker and maker. This season, they should not miss a beat because they might have the best lead guard in the country in Darren Collison. Collison made his own share of big shots coming down the stretch of the season and in the Big Dance in addition to handing out almost six assists a game. Josh Shipp provides consistant scoring on the wing, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute creates match-up problems with the ability to play inside and out. Add great post depth in Alfred Aboya, Lorenzo Mata-Real and the instant low-post production from McDonald's All-American Kevin Love, and Darren Collison has tons of options, whether he is attacking in transition or setting up the halfcourt offense.
Even with all that, the most important factor is that Ben Howland's teams are known for is their physical man-to-man defense. A balanced, talented and defensive-minded team is difficult to keep from an April trip to San Antonio. Fran Fraschilla's NPOY candidates: Some very good candidates to be this season's national player of the year could suffer from the same fate as the Gators: being an excellent player on an outstanding and balanced team. UCLA's Darren Collison and freshman Kevin Love come to mind. Andy Katz searches for the face of college hoops: "I'm a team guy, so I'm going to say the face of the sport is UCLA anyway," Love said. "When I think about college basketball, I think of UCLA." Gary Parrish from CBSSports.com gives us a Pac-10 preview: 1. UCLA
The good: The core of the roster that just went to a second Final Four in two years is back. That means Darren Collison is passing the ball, Josh Shipp is shooting the ball and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is dunking the ball. Add freshman center Kevin Love to the mix, and what Ben Howland has is a team capable of going to yet another Final Four.
The bad: Arron Afflalo left school early, just like former classmate Jordan Farmar. And though there are mixed opinions about whether the Bruins will miss their shooting guard, the reality is he was an All-American who averaged 16.7 points, and don't you have to miss that some?
The bottom line: The Bruins are the favorites out of Las Vegas to win it all, and that makes sense. The great talent is in place. The great coach is in place, too. So now it's just a matter of breaking through, and avoiding Florida in the Final Four, of course.