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Steve 16s

During those Lavin years we were constantly barraged with BS from Lavin and his minions about what a big deal it was for Bruin to advance to Steve-16s. There are couple posters on Bruin message boards (initials: CRG and BS (yes BS) who would come on brag about their coach after every Bruin second round win and compared him to the Ratface and Tom Izzo. Yes Lavo was destined to be the Mini K from Westwood just because he was leading an underachieving, ridiculously talented UCLA team to 5 Sweet-16s in 7 years! Steve-16 was UCLA's destiny!

Well as ecstatic and hyped the Nation is about our first 2nd round win under Coach Howland, our players are coaches are keeping everything in perspective. From Yahoo's notebook on Oakland regional:

The UCLA Bruins had just secured a berth in the Sweet 16 for the first time in four years. But, this being UCLA, the program with those 11 national championship banners, the expectations are higher.

To a man, the Bruins know they haven't done anything yet.

"Technically, this means nothing," said point guard Jordan Farmar, who led UCLA with 18 points in its 62-59 triumph over Alabama on Saturday. "We're playing for a national championship. There's not going to be a banner at Pauley Pavilion for getting this far."

Senior center Ryan Hollins, who scored 12 and blocked three shots, shared a similar perspective.

"I'm not excited by any means," he said. "It could've been over tonight, and it came close to that."

Same goes for coach Ben Howland. Yes, he's proud of his team. He praises his players for the character they have demonstrated. But he, too, knows what's expected. He knew it when he took the job four years ago.

"This is nothing new for UCLA," said Howland, who's in his third year at the helm. "The standard is set. We are supposed to win every game and that is what everybody is trying to do. I'm so happy for our seniors. It is fun. This is what it's all about."
Yeap this is fun. We are not doing jumping jacks in the BruinsNation for reaching the Steve-16, we are jazzed about a basketball program that has put together its first complete season since 1994-95 season. Yes the 96-97 team made a run to the Elite Eight and won the Pac-10 but it came after an embarrassing, ugly, disgusting, and humiliating loss at Maples Pavilion which Lavin jokingly (well UCLA basketball was always a matter of joke to Steve Lavin) referred to as Maples Massacre. I am of course expecting a win this Thursday night. However, what happens this Thursday night, this Nation is finally at peace with itself because we have a team led by a coach and players who have always maintained their perspective, handled themselves with grace and dignity, while delivering results on the court.

Of course getting to Steve-16 usually means nothing to UCLA. This is not a big deal for a program which has double digit NCs. But what we are so gratified about at this point of the season is that we won our regular season conference titled outright, won the Pac-10 tourney, and now have put ourselves in a position to perhaps create more shining moments by playing clutch basketball and fundamental defense down the stretch. Now that is something to be gratified about. This is far cry from those Lavin teams of losey goosey MickeyDers playing jungle ball the whole season, have an underachieving regular season, and then win 2 early round games against over matched opponents year after year. In other words - this year playing in the 3rd round after watching our team put together a complete season up to date feels just a little different than the Steve-16 experiences we all underwent during dark and fugly Lavin years. Just my 2 cents.

GO BRUINS.