Since we launched BN almost five years ago this time of the year has always been something special. This is the time of the year watching college basketball from around the country became even more fun than usual. As the pool of 64 teams slowly came into shape during those years, we were busy sizing up the marquee teams and going over possible matchups with Ben Ball warriors in our heads. In comparison, when basketball comes up on tWWL or other channels this season, right now I just feel a total sense of dread as it serves up as reminder of the debacle we experienced this season.
Few of us I guess are still thinking the season is not over and that we have a good shot of winning at least one more game in the Pac-10 tournament. For me it just seems prolonging a slow death. Again this season was over a while ago and we have been on a long death march as the head coach hasn't shown any indication of making adjustments to his flawed rotation (unless forced by injuries) that hasn't worked for us the entire season. It is hard to get excited over a matchup against Arizona, knowing we will once again look to win a game depending on smart and patience performances from guys like Rag and Jerime Anderson. Why bother getting worked up over a game which will be just another pointless (yeah sure pun intended) exercise of going through the motions.
Nelson spoke with his grandmother and mother Monday and his mother. Sheila, spoke with Dr. Steven Schwartz, who performed the surgeries. Nelson said his mother is now "more at ease" with him playing and "if she's OK, I'm OK."
"It was difficult to watch the team lose a few games in row," Nelson said. "It wasn't necessarily because I was out, I'm not going to flatter myself that much, but I think with me playing we have better chance to win."
Nelson, who averages 11 points and 5.5 rebounds, injured the eye against Washington State on Feb. 18. He will wear goggles in practice and possibly in the game.
"Reeves is our best and only consistent low-post scorer," Coach Ben Howland said.
While that is encouraging news, I wonder whether Nelson should even play in a game that is not going to mean much at this point of the season. Moreover, if Nelson gets in the lineup, it will probably mean reduced minutes for Brendan Lane, instead of you know who. So, I don't really find this news all that exciting and am not sure how much of a difference Nelson is going to make tomorrow afternoon.
Unlike the Bruins, the Wildcats are coming into this tourney with a bit of a momentum. They have won 3 close games in a row against Stanford, UCLA and Southern Cal. Unlike the Bruins most of their freshmen have developed into seasoned and experienced sophomores. They will also come into this game with most depth they have had all season with freshman forward Kevin Parrom back in the lineup.
For the Bruins to have any shot against the Wildcat they will need to contain Kyle Fogg, who has killed the Bruins with 51 points this season. Bruins will also need to be aware of Nic Wise, who is going to try leave his last Pac-10 tournament on an up note. From Sportsline.com:
All has not been easy for Arizona, or for point guard Nic Wise, the club's only senior. He has been brilliant on some nights but struggled with a young cast around him on others.
But after all manner of dramatics against USC -- including sophomore Kyle Fogg converting three free throws with 0.2 seconds left to tie the score in regulation -- it was Wise who delivered. His layup with 1.5 seconds left in the second overtime won it.
"In a funny way, this game has represented our entire season," Miller said. "And in a funny way, it represents Nic Wise and what he has endured."
Wise has stuck around at UA to play for four different coaches, something Miller said he wouldn't have done as a player.
"I think the world of Nic," he said. "He has a great attitude, loves the game and loves Arizona. If he didn't, he certainly wouldn't have endured the numerous changes that he's experienced. He's our heart and soul."
Giving these two guards extra attention around the perimeter could open things for freshmen forward Derrick Williams inside. Lot of poisons in that lineup to pick from and none of the scenarios look fun for UCLA considering the pathetic defensive effort we have seen most of this season.
I would also add that getting Nelson back doesn't necessarily mean that our defense is going to improve. While Nelson has given terrific effort and has shown more heart and desire on the court that most of the Bruins this season, he has been a liability on defense. Of course he is not as bad as Rag (it is not humanely possible to be as atrocious as Rag on D). With Nelson in the lineup, we have had serious communication issues in our interior zone defense which has broken down repeatedly throughout the season. I am going to guess the Wildcats will have no problem slicing it up on Thursday.
If Ben Howland really wanted to inject some life into his listless program, he would bench Rag tomorrow afternoon featuring a lineup of Malcolm Lee, Michael Roll, Tyler Honecutt, Brendan Lane, Reeves Nelson, and bring Rag, Mustafa Abdul-Hamid, Mike Moser and Bobo Morgan off the bench. However, it is not going to happen. We will go through the same old nonsense we have gone through the entire season. As a result much like time most of us will be going through the motions in what will turn out to be another pointless exercise in this worthless debacle of a joyless season.