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Basketball Eve

It's Basketball Eve here in Westwood and I for one couldn't be more stoked. However, the enthusiasm from "unbiased" sources like the LA Times is what I would describe as underwhelming. No, they would rather write about how DeSean Jackson almost got to have the "privilege" of playing for southern cal, or about how the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the United States of the Planet Earth lost out in their bid for a Japanese pitcher. Not a word on the national runner's up and reigning Pac 10 champions beginning their quest to repeat. But enough about incompetent sports sections. gets it: a picture of Luc in the final four on the front page spearheading Lunardi's Bracketology segment, where he places the Bruins as a #1 seed. We will see if this team can develop and perform to those lofty expectations, but that's part of the fun.

While the pessimist in me says that this team has a ways to go, at least not all local newspapers are staffed by southern cal jock sniffers and actually take the time to do their jobs correctly, like this gem from Kevin Pearson on, which brings out the optimist in me.

There it is, stuck to the bedroom wall in Arron Afflalo's apartment, taunting him every time he walks by it.

Blown up bigger than it should be is a photo of Afflalo, staring dejectedly straight ahead as the final minute ticks down in what should have been the crowning moment of his college athletic career.

Instead there is nothing but heartbreak.

In this frozen instant there is a realization on Afflalo's boyish face that UCLA, crushed by Florida in the championship after joyriding through last March's NCAA Tournament, would not be hanging another banner inside Pauley Pavilion.

"It reminds me of a lot of things, but most importantly the emotion I felt," Afflalo said recently while sitting inside the Morgan Center in Westwood. "Every time I see it, it throws complacency out the window."

I've done a lot of thinking over whether our weaknesses this season will be too much to overcome, but Arron is back, and he gives me reason to believe that this team WILL be better than last years, despite everyone we lost, because to be honest, he was the one we needed back the most.

There have already been a couple of surprises early on this season within our conference: Arizona dropping a game a "final four favorite" has no business losing to UVa, southern cal's self-proclaimed dark horse team struggling against Cal Poly Pomona (the same team we blew out), Washington giving up 300 points to Pepperdine. It is clear that the non-conference season is full of challenges, and I'm sure we will have our struggles too, but with AA leading the way, we will be more than ready to meet those challenges, starting with BYU tomorrow.

It's Basketball Eve, people!