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Food for thought ...

So some nut balls on Bruin message boards (read hardcore Dorrell lovers) are already out setting up comparisons between Dorrell's "10 win" season and the basketball program's "22-6" record up to this point of the season.

Never mind that the idea of even brining this topic up with at least 4 more games to go in this 05-06 season - 2 more games to go in the Pac-10 regular season, and minimum of 2 more games in the tourney (Pac-10 and the Big Dance) seasons - is just ridiculous, these idiots are still bringing the topic up.  BTW, I am hoping for at least 6 tourney games: 3 in the Pac and 3 in the Dance).

The comparison is just silly. Again it is way too early to stack up the total season performance of these two teams considering as mentioned above the basketball is just getting into the heat of the Madness season. But since these guys brought up the topic here are some factors to consider.

Team Schedules: Football team feasted over a pre-season schedule that was the easiest in last 30 years of UCLA football. According to the final polls that were out there football season's SOS was somewhere in the mid-40s.

Basketball of course despite a weak RPI of the Pac-10 conference has had solid team RPI (top-15 per Ken Pomroy) the whole season based on its SOS.  You can check out the numbers by clicking on any of the sites linked on the blog roll.  We have done posts constantly batting down morons like Steve Lavin's arguments on UCLA not having a strong basketball schedule this season.

Injury Excuse:  The performance of this basketball team up until this point of the season given its injury doldrums has been quiet remarkable.  Let's put it this way.  If the football team suffered injuries to its depth chart at the same rate of the basketball team from this season, it wouldn't have qualified for the Breast Implant Bowl. The basketball team is in serious contention for the Pac-10 regular season championship with 2 games to go in the regular season with a roster in which every member except for Darren Collison have either sat our had to battle through injuries through the whole season. And this team has a legitimate shot in winning the regular season titled despite predominantly being led by sophomores and freshmen, and missing one of the key players in Josh Shipp. Instead of constantly making excuses of injuries, the basketball team has gone out and fought hard in every game, staying in every game, and has found a way to win. While time after time we had to read excuses about how our DL was decimated, not having enough young, talented bodies to fill the line - this despite Larry Kerr and co. knowing full well that was one of the needs they would have to address when they inherited a senior laden roster at DL three years ago.

Upper/Lowerclassmen ratio: Football team time after time had to depend on the upperclassmen experiences of Drew, Olson, Lewis, Page, Havner, and London, in pulling out one miracle win after another against horrible football teams, while the basketball team has been winning on the strength of its talents from soph. and freshman class. One of the main reasons so many of us are excited about basketball is not just because better than expected regular season this team has been putting together so far, but for the great talent in the core of its foundation in JF, AA, Shipp, Mata, Luc, DC, AA2, Roll, and Wright. This is exciting stuff.  While in football we are worrying about who is going to step for the senior talent which left our defense (Page, Havner, London etc), and gingerly optimistic about BO, Markey, Bell, Moya, Ketchum, Cowan stepping up for void left by Lewis, Drew, and the DO, you will not find anyone worrying about who will be replacing Ced and the Fellins crew.  We are more than confidant about the future of hoops, while we are uncertain, unsure, after what appears to be a fluke 10 win season in football.

In legit contention for a conference title: Oh unlike football, in basketball we are actually in legit contention for a conference regular season title, despite having a freshmen/soph. heavy roster.  We are not hoping for an upset win, like we were during the football season going into the December 3rd game. We are going up to the Bay Area - thinking we have a legit shot in winning the outright regular season title by winning both games or get a shared title by splitting the two games.

Fighting it out every game: Again here is another thing to consider. No need to go on about the horrors of the football losses against Zona and USC. In contrast, in basketball every single loss has been a close one.   In the loss against Memphis, in an early season "road" game we trailed at the half by 17 to a probable number 1 seed and ended up cutting the lead to 6 late in the game.  Keep in mind one of their players had a career night hitting 5-7 three pointers and 10-13 from the floor. And that was the biggest loss of the season. (HT to Andy at BZ for the quick reference)  In every other loss we were in the game and had a shot to win in the final mins. of the game. Personally, I don't really care much for closes losses because it lends to that annoying celebrating moral victories. Of course we were not celebrating after close heartbreaking losses to Cal, Washington, and that despicable close to loss to SC - however, it does tell me that the team is fighting, scrapping, and clawing in every game. Sure they need to get better about coming out locked in and focused every night, but they are fighting it out every single night - which certainly didn't happen in those humiliating football losses against Zona and Stanford.

Again - these are just some food for thought. It is too early to draw a definitive comparison between the seasons of these two programs. But judging based upon what the basketball team has done so far, needless to say - we are lot more confidant about the direction of this basketball program under Howland, than the direction of the football one under his counterpart in Dorrell.