As expected and required for a UCLA squad with any level of self-respect, the Bruins took care of business against Southern Cal yesterday afternoon at the
Galen Sam's Club Center.
With Travis Wear's absence due to a practice injury, there was no choice but to allow Tony Parker significant playing time against SC. He took advantage of the prospect of consistent playing time and attention from Larry Drew.
His 17 minutes was the most he's played against a conference opponent, and his eight points were the most he's scored since Dec. 15. Parker benefited from Larry Drew II's dishes into the low post, his baskets accounting for two of the point guard's six assists.
"I tell Tony, 'Man, you're so big,"' Drew said. "Off the court, he's a really nice guy. he's the coolest person to be around. He's a real sweet kid.
"But on the court, I'm telling him 'You have no friends. Go in and try to hurt somebody, man. When you pick, roll hard to the cut and I'll find you.' I tell him that every day in practice. He finally got some minutes and you can see it's starting to pay off."
Chris Foster added to the Tony Parker discussion; noting how the Bruins struggled in the second half when Parker was limited due to injury, while also discussing the impact that he could have on UCLA's efforts to close the season.
What the Bruins can be and what the Bruins are was clear from Parker's play.
The Bruins were already off to a fast start at Galen Center on Sunday. But their personality underwent a mood swing when Parker entered the game. He immediately scored on a power move for a 19-6 UCLA lead.
... It made playing without 6-foot-10 Travis Wear — sidelined because of a sprained right foot — a lot less painful.
The Bruins' future may hinge on how ready Parker remains.
A couple of folks noted in the gamethread that Pat Haden had not only shown up for yesterday's game, but joined with the students, which Jack Wang confirmed.
USC athletic director Pat Haden and senior associate athletic direction J.K. McKay donned yellow Trojan Fever T-shirts like those worn by students and went to the student section to do the "Harlem Shake" dance during a timeout.
For some reason, I can't imagine Dan Guerrero or Mark Harlan throwing on Den t-shirts and dancing during breaks in the action.
Don't forget that Sunday was a double win over the trogans - the Women's Basketball team also defeated their Southern Cal counterparts at Pauley, 63-58 in front of a crowd of 8,327 - larger than some home performances of the men's clownshow. After beating USC for the second time in a week, Cori Close's squad sits in 3rd place in the Pac-12 entering the final week of the regular season. But SC's late charge - closing to within a single point in the final 2 minutes - did not sit well with Coach Close when she gave the postgame presser.
"This was such a mixed bag," second-year UCLA coach Cori Close said.
"This is a hard turnaround for everyone. They played aggressively and they played with a purpose. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. But this was good for us. As the pressure rises, we need to rise because all the games are tough from here on out."
... "Our inside game has always been our strength and that's not going to change," Close said. "Our outside shooters are going to have some open looks because of the attention they are giving to our bigs inside. Today we hit some clutch shots from the outside."
In other news, Stan's Donuts in Westwood was named one of the 50-best donut shops in America by Saveur Magazine. No, Dan Guerrero is not on Saveur's editorial board...
The Bruins' next game is going to be on Wednesday Night, 8:30 pm against ASU. Surprised about the unusual scheduling? You are not the only one.
The Bruins will have to bounce back for an 8:30 p.m. tipoff against Arizona State on Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA coach Ben Howland said he didn't know the game was so soon until a friend started asking him for tickets.