As the Bruins prepare to take on no.1 ranked Arizona at OPUG later today, I find myself still disinterested. I very much care for the players and wish them all the success in the world. But I am simply not emotionally invested in a program that is led by TIARA. He continues to sign recruits, some well regarded, but none are addressing his major issue: no elite point guard will come to UCLA as long as he keeps singing high praises for his son's play. In Bryce's defense, he has played well when he has stayed within his role, but his pops continues to give him too many minutes. Oh well, I'm beyond all that nonsense now anyway. We are back to having a divided fan base, between blind supporters and others who simply cannot stomach someone of TIARA's character (and resume) leading this program. There are certainly a lot of people who fall somewhere between the two, but really, ask yourself: is there where UCLA Basketball should be? We all deserve better.
Onward with today's happenings.
While we don't think much of Sean Miller as a coach, he at least understands the true rivalry in the Pac-12 conference between UCLA and Arizona, ranking it up with the more well-known (i.e. more hyped by BSPN) rivalries in the country. Perhaps losing to UCLA three times last year has given Miller a nice dose of humility.
Over in the LA Times, Chris Foster spoke with the King of Westwood, Ed O'Bannon, for his thoughts on the rivalry. Ed didn't mince words, and neither did Jordan Adams. Thinking back to the days in the early 90's, when so much was at stake in this game and the players knew exactly the mindset needed. For those of us who experienced those games, today's matchup is a far cry from that magnitude, despite Arizona's ranking. Foster also notes that UCLA is only 10-19 against teams ranked no.1. Yes Ed, we're about due.
Jack Wang also provides the top 10 moments in this great rivalry. I have seen 8 out of 10 and fully agree with his top pick (not so much with no.2 and no.3, but hey, I'm a homer).
In terms of the matchup tonight, some see it as a battle between UCLA's prolific offense and Arizona's strong defense. I think that is missing the forest for the trees. Yes, the Bruins are 8th in scoring in the country, and Arizona is 3rd in scoring defense, but UCLA's schedule inflates its numbers. The true battle in my opinion will be between Arizona's offense and UCLA's defense, where there are some serious mismatches favoring the Wildcats. Still, a good breakdown of the game from the Arizona Daily Star.
In the "what might have been" category, and to remind people of our frustration with Ben Howland, it looks like Brendan Lane is finally enjoying some success on the hardwood with Pepperdine. Misused, mismanaged and demoralized by Howland, it's great to see him make the most of his last year of eligibility. I hope Pepperdine gets to the NCAA tournament so it lasts even longer for him.
Finally, in the "told you so" category, you have probably already heard that Shabazz Muhammad was relegated to the NBA's D-League after floundering with Minnesota. He did quite well in his debut with the Iowa Energy, helping them win their game. It seems the experience has been a nice and needed dose of humility for Bazz and we will see if it helps him get back to the big leagues.
That's all folks, hope this gets you warmed up for the game later today.