I have been looking forward to today for a quiet a while. Today is the day which has the potential to be the official proverbial changing of the guard day in Westwood. Viagra Lute's Mildcats are coming into down in shambles. They are struggling and it is becoming obvious to everyone in the Pac-10 the and in denial about the prospects of being owned by UCLA for the indefinite future. Lute is going to have retire having his trailer trash program to a second tier program in the Pac-10.
Well ... to today's game. The key matchup again is going to be between Hassan Adams and Arron Afflalo:
"Hassan Adams is truly a great player and a warrior," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I think he's been the heart and soul, since I've been in the league, of what they're all about. He's such a great competitor and so tough."
Afflalo is one of the Pac-10's best defenders, and a look back at the past nine days demonstrates it. He held Oregon leading scorer Malik Hairston (was averaging 15.2 points per game) to six points, Oregon State leading scorer Chris Stephens (14.5 ppg) to four points and Arizona State leading scorer Kevin Kruger (14.9 ppg) to eight points. The trio shot a combined six for 18 from the field.
"There's no sense of urgency," Olson said of his players. "They don't have that refuse-to-lose attitude."
Bruin center Ryan Hollins did not play against Arizona and will be looked upon by this team to continue his stellar play of late. Hollins has improved his defensive rebounding and has played good team defense in the paint.
The Bruins lead the conference in scoring defense allowing only 59.9 points per game, and more importantly lead the conference with a +6.1 scoring margin against opponents.
Although the Wildcats are averaging 75 points per game this season they are only averaging 64 points in their last four games ago.
Against Arizona St. on Thursday evening the Bruins came out flat against the Sun Devils, they can not afford to do the same against the Wildcats and must come out prepared to play with high energy.
With the loss of two key players and turmoil on the team the Wildcats are wounded, but a basketball rivalry as great as the one between UCLA and Arizona can lead to unpredictable happenings and finishes.
"This is a chance to separate ourselves (from Arizona). This is a big game," Bozeman said. "Arizona is coming off a loss, so they're going to be hungry. We've got to be ready for their best shot, because I know they're going to give it to us. I'm trying to put that (2003) game behind us, but it's etched in. We want to get this win. It's definitely important."