Ladies and gentlemen - given what has transpired in the sports scene in the City of Angels, I am going to start my post from this little nugget from Tim Floyd, the head coach of the basketball program from the community college in South Central, which he uttered during his hiring press conference, almost an year ago:
I think you look at what's going on right now and the team to beat right now is Arizona. In my opinion, that is the team that everyone should be concerned with over the course of the last ten years. They have been playing at a high national level on a consistent basis, turning out NBA players. They have been doing a lot of their work here in southern California. It makes a lot of sense for a young man who is thinking about the next four years of his life as opposed to leaving our area to build a relationship with the Trojan family, which is so strong. Those are the type of things that we are going to sell and try to do. They will be our staff's measuring stick and I consider Lute (Olson) a guy to look at with great respect. There are a lot of coaches in this league who are terrific basketball coaches, but Lute got that program turned around by being a recruiting coach. I intend to do the same thing here.
rofl. Just another Trojan.
I mean talk about (as Ajax implied below) synergy in the BruinsNation. Last night's win couldn't come at an more opportune time for U.C.L.A., as Howland and the Bruins are in good position snatch the sports light of the band wagon jumping LA sports media (well I don't want them). Anyways ... I don't care much about Floyd's comments. He clearly made that comment to take an indirect dig at UCLA, and bring some attention to himself and his pathetic little basketball program. We will take care of them when time comes, but meanwhile ... last night's game allowed Howland and our boys to send a clear message to rest of the Pac-10 and college basketball world. Here are some of my initial thoughts this am. Already people have posted some great comments on Mata's unbelievable play, and Afflalo's "Kobe" like performance. But again ... it really comes down to coaching and management of the program by Ben Howland, who has bunch of sophs and frosh. believing in the mystic in those magical four letters printed on their chest. As I have more thoughts, I will keep posting them here, and of course you should do the same in the comment threads or separate diaries (which will allow us to bump them into the main page).
Official end of the Steve Lavin era: Last night officially marked the end of Steve Lavin era in Westwood. I hate to bring this up again because after all they are all kids. But it was pretty apparent who didn't make the trip to Tucson. None of Lavin's remaining recruits in the roster (Fellins, Ced, and Roubin) made the trip to McKale. Howland beat up on Lute with his sophomores and freshmen, two of whom (Jordan and Shipp) were playing in pain. Simply unbelievable, and it should send a shiver down the spines of Arizona and rest of the Pac-10 (if not the world of college basketball), about the prospects of UCLA basketball under Howland, once everyone gets healthy, and if they all come back next year.
DC's coming out party:Last night was DC's coming out party. As I wrote before going to sleep the game kept reminding of the 1991 game in Tucson, when Don McLean's senior team finally won in Arizona, but was helped by emergence of Tyus Edney. DC like Edney was on fire last night, wreaking havoc by driving into the Zona defense and tearing it apart by dishing the ball of in last minute. BBR has more on DC
When Collison entered the game he was matched up with Mustafa Shakur, but he could not contain Collison who drove past him for two quick scores. Arizona coach then tried J.P Prince and Marcus Williams on Collison also without success. Finally, Olson put his best defender Chris Rodgers on Collison, but that took Rodgers off Afflalo who immediately countered with two scores while guarded by either Shakur or Williams.
They just had no clue to handle him. Of course they put some severe pressure on him down the stretch, methinks he will adjust to that soon. He is just a freshmen, and already he is playing at a pretty amazing level.
Jordan's injury: I think DC's continued emergence as a solid play maker gives Howland some positive options. No question Jordan is hurting. And he may be hurting bad. Here is what he had to say about this recurring (ankle sprain) injury last night:
"That might be the best thing," Farmar said. "I'm going to talk to my family and sit down with coach and see what the best thing is for both of us. I'll be all right. I'll battle through this. But I have to look out for my health first."
Farmar consulted his family during the game to see if he should return. His parents gave their blessing. Farmar went to the training room, where he got the ankle re-taped. While he was away, the Bruins were just fine.
I think it may not be a bad idea for Coach Howland to start DC in the next two games (at ASU and home game v. Washington State), give Jordan as much rest as possible. May be not even use him (unless it's a total emergency) and get him ready for the crucial Washington game at Pauley next Saturday. Jordan had 11 (crucial end of half pts. and FTs in second half) points last night, but he did it have 6 TOs in 24 mins. It seems like he was having a hard time getting into the flow of the game, and one cannot blame considering the kind of injury he had. He put on a gutty performance last night, but it may good for him and the team if he gets a lot of rest if not completely sits out the next two games. Let's see what Howland and Jordan decide this Saturday. It will be interesting.
Beating blood rivals: Arizona is our "USC of basketball." USC basketball is insignificant. Those clowns from South Central (in immortal words of J.R.) will always be JUST SC. But it's Arizona that's the only program in hoops that has been somewhat worthy of being our rival in hoops (and their rise as a West Coast powerhouse really came into prominence during the late 90s and earlier part of this decade, largely due to Lute taking advantage of total incompetency and buffoonery of Steve Lavin) in West Coast. Here is Greg Hansen from AZ Star
If UCLA rushed a shot on Thursday, or took one out of the rhythm of Howland's offense, I didn't see it. The Bruins were so surgically effective that the unusually subdued McKale crowd essentially went home quietly.
Best team won.
Their run is over. It is done. They know it too. Howland and his crew just went down to desert and donkey punched Lute's whiny trailer trash ass. And he did it with bunch of sophomores and freshmen in his third year in the program. Now if we can hold serve on our court when they come into Pauley and perhaps beat them in the Pac-10 tournament, that would put an exclamation point to the end of Arizona's run in West Coast hoops. Howland has put the basketball program in a spot to totally vanquishing its main rival in just about three years, if not it will probably be official by next year. I hate to bring this up again ... but the situation is remarkably different when we look over at our football program and check out its status in terms of closing the gap with its main rival. It's one word - "coaching." Basketball program has it, football - we are not so sure.