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Number 1 Coasting (Show Up to Enjoy It)

So by all accounts it sounds like the Bruins coasted through a sleepy but comfortable win last night against Oakland (MI). We can never really take away much from these types of games. Yeah, the Bruins struggled at the FT line, the main culprit being Josh Shipp who went 3 for 7. Josh needs to do much better than that. For the second game in a row, the opponent out rebounded the Bruins, which may be a concern. But I am not sure if I am going to lose any sleep over that fact. I am not sure if I am going to consider that as a trend before checking out the box score of the next two games.

Dohn reports that even though the Bruins got off to a slow start (as we kind of expected here on BN since we were coming off finals week), the outcome of the game was never in doubt:

Even when Oakland (6-7) pulled within 21-19 on Derick Nelson's 3-pointer 4:12 before the half, there seemed little threat the former Division II school could pull a major upset since the Grizzlies struggled to get a quality shot against UCLA's tenacious defense.

And the manner in which the Bruins closed out the first half punctuated that.

Michael Roll hit a 6-foot floater to trigger an 11-0 run to end the half as the Bruins took a 33-19 lead on Darren Collison's basket with two seconds remaining.

"It was similar to the Riverside game a little bit," UCLA junior guard Arron Afflalo said. "It's been a long week off for us (due to finals). We did come out a little flat, but hopefully we can provide a better atmosphere for the next game."
Yes, creating a better game day atmosphere. I don't really the buy the excuses for scheduling unexciting opponents or whatever. If you consider yourself a Bruin basketball fan, then you have no excuse for not showing up in these games. Especially those students who live around LA have no excuses. Again read the post from drumfool below and the email from UCLA athletics. Figure out a way to get to Pauley. It's not rocket science. We have some special kids led by the best coach to lead a major revenue athletic program since the days of Coach Wooden. And they happen to be the number 1 team in the nation. There is no excuse for not showing up at these games. Period.

There is not much in the LA Times game report except for Pucin whining for no good reason. Yes, Diane, we get it, our team has some FT issues, and they were out-rebounded by a mid major the weekend after Finals week in a sleepy atmosphere at Pauley. BFD. Our players know they need to step it up, as well our coaches. Color us not concerned. We know, and the players know, if things don't improve at the FT line, we are going to lose some games in a tough Pac-10 conference. Tell us something we don't know, Diane. Perhaps you can read the post-game report on BBR, which discusses the Bruin's defense performance, and the strategy UCLA opponents are using to slow up the Bruin O:
Although the UCLA offense was stagnant for most of the first-half, the defense was solid as usual.  The Bruins held the Grizzlies to only 28.6% field goal shooting in the half.

Much of the Bruins' troubles offensively could be attributed to a sluggish start, but the Oakland game plan of slowing the tempo also affected the UCLA offense. Similar to the UC Riverside contest two weeks ago, the Grizzlies walked the ball up court and held the ball for a good part of the shot clock to slow the Bruin running game down.

The slow-down strategy utilized by opponents this season has allowed them to dictate the tempo against the Bruins for at least a single-half in games, or until the Bruin defense wears them down in the second-half.

Interestingly, UCLA Coach Ben Howland does not insert a counter to force a more up-tempo game such as picking up full-court and pressing.  The most UCLA will do is pick up the opponent's point-guard earlier in the backcourt as Collison and Westbrook did in this game.  The Bruins will see similar teams in the Pac-10 such as Washington St. and Arizona St. who play a similar slow-down style but have better personnel to execute it.
Another thing that bares repeating is that right now UCLA is taking the best shots from all of these teams. And this is not going to stop until they get knocked off with a loss. It's a testament to Howland and his staff's coaching how they have been able to maintain the defensive intensity in our team despite taking best shots game after game. It will be interesting to see if there are offensive adjustments in our game, given it's clear that our opponents are scouting our team really well, and are being effective in slowing down our offense in the first halves of these games before getting worn down by our defense.

Anyways, more of the same report from the OC Register. Again, I wouldn't worry too much our FT shooting woes. It's clear our team knows they need to work on it. So they will do everything they can. Meanwhile, what we can all do is to make sure we support this team. So please for the love of God, if you live in or around LA, please find a way to get to Pauley Pavilion. There is something called the internets, which makes it very easy to find tickets, and information on how to get to Westwood.

Our team, the number 1 team in America, is coasting and gliding through wins. Now let's do our part to get them excited through this Holiday Season and into the conference games on a more exciting note. Show up at Pauley. And if you have tickets, and cannot show up (which better be for some damn good reason), then forward your tickets to another Bruin.

Please do your part to fill up Pauley so that true Bruin fan can enjoy watching the number 1 team in America, coasting through another win.