Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Here are some great and very telling Ben Ball insights and analysis courtesy of Xavier head coach Sean Miller and L.A. Times' Rich Perelman. BTW, is it fair to say at this point in the season that Perelman 'gets' it? I wonder.
So later this week, when all the loose talk and mediaspeak gets going again about UCLA's "tough" / "stout" / "stingy" / "smothering" (insert superlative) defense, it's easy to come away with a one-dimensional picture of what Ben Howland's UCLA Bruins have done/are doing to their opponents - especially in the one-and-done climate this time of year brings.
Listen to Sean Miller give his closing perspectives on Saturday's game vs. UCLA:"The thing that amazes me about UCLA's defense is they don't foul. I mean, they are physical, they blitz and trap every pick and roll you set, they trap the low post, they pressure the ball, they sometimes have four players on the court who are 6-7 or taller and they don't foul. I'm telling you, if you play as hard as they do and have the size that they do and the strategy and that offensive team can't put fouls on them, it's really, really hard to score."
Right? It's easy to to just SAY "UCLA's defense is tough", but hard to understand what that really means without getting a visual. It's harder still to comprehend the alternating layers of plate steel, rebarb and concrete Ben Howland rivets, wraps and pours between the ball and the opposing rim without having actually played against the Man.
Some can see it with a jog-wheel, a few even claim to be coaching it right now. Personally, I coach at the youth level and have ground the heads and platters of my PVR into metal filings just trying to get a glimpse of Howland's deadly nuances and adjustments and most if it STILL eludes and blows the mind.
But before you take that next swig and/or move on to the other facets of the game in prep for Memphis_II this week -- before you're forced to rebut all the doubting, bracket-toting co-workers and critics whose "buts" will surely be used to make more cases about why we won't beat them this year (forget about Gonzaga, LSU, Memphis_I, Kansas, Indiana, et. al.), please read (and then re-read) these telling excerpts from Sean Miller:"It will be interesting in San Antonio as the best of the best goes there...[for example,] transition defense, [UCLA] fl[ies] back in transition defense... if you set a ball screen, that 6-9, 270-pound player stops, runs dead opposite to half court and blitzes the ball screen, turns, runs full speed to the hoop and a lot of action is happening and they don't foul.
So even if you do have that Howland encounter, it's another thing entirely to muddle through a postmortem and try to make heads or tails out of the scorch and scraps he generally leaves behind. Mostly it seems, Howland's defensive construct is a mathematical impasse that brings the otherwise 'weak' forces of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th dimensions into influence over your game plan. I mean, it must be be some alternate hoops universe that drastically alters the normal behavior of his opponents, because everyone that experiences it knows what they saw (or didn't see) but strangely and predictably swears it was something they did, or didn't do, or couldn't or wouldn't or shouldn't have done to themselves that ultimately brought about the failure.
In fact, the place Howland's Bruins play their game must be a point in space that is either near to or right inside of a black hole; it atomizes your play book, stops time, silences your fans and turns your beaming and once composed starters into flaccid, drooping spaghetti men (oooh, is that why they call it "ugly" dad?) -- or so the footage I have archived will testify to.
Maybe it's that complex, maybe not. Obviously, though, we've got something other teams don't and vaunted squads like the ones we face this week (with the exception Florida) have rather consistently found Howland's sorcery no easier to contend with the second time around than the first.
Indeed, Ben Howland's Special Pressure Soup Mix is a whole order of magnitude harder to detect, sample, hash out, solve, digest and survive than almost any of his peers... and I don't see old Billy Dynoplugs or any of the previous years' tourney mainstays around anywhere to contest the point.
More Sean Miller:UCLA's defense is obviously outstanding. The team that cracks it will probably be hitting on all cylinders and I would be curious to see if they can put four more fouls on UCLA and get to the foul line more themselves and to me, that's the key against playing their defense because the things that they are able to do without fouling are against all odds."
Yeah, I heard that. But I tell you what I don't want to hear is another group of frustrated players walking off the court muttering about "having a bad game" or how they "didn't execute" or that "the shots wouldn't fall" or whatever other meaningless hoop-concessions these dudes offer after they lose to UCLA.
No sir. The best college basketball coach in America just GAVE you that bad game, but you're welcome anyway.
That said, I am good and ready for Calipari and Memphis. I got my five.