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BRUIN DEFENSE

Finally a good UCLA article from LA Times courtesy of Steve Springer. Springer profiles Afflalo today and tells us something about one of the Bruin leaders that we didn't know before. For example, had no idea AA wears no.4 in honor of former Laker great Byron Scott:

Afflalo has been captivated by basketball since he was little more than a toddler. He was given a Laker video as a child and would watch it over and over again. The player he watched most closely was sharpshooting guard Byron Scott.

"He had a nice jump shot. Perfect form," said Afflalo, smiling at the memory.

As Afflalo moved up the basketball ladder, from his backyard to youth leagues to Compton Centennial High, he never forgot Scott.

In tribute, Afflalo wore No. 4, Scott's number, as he still does today.
Good stuff. More from the article on how AA has become the heart and soul of the Bruin defense:
Afflalo's value to the Bruins in this, his sophomore season, has been incalculable. Heading into Saturday's game against Louisiana State, he is averaging a team-high 16.2 points a game, has a team-high 80 three-point baskets, and has led the defense that has led UCLA into championship weekend.

Tall and rangy, short and shifty, it doesn't matter. If a player, other than a true big man, leads his team in scoring, he can expect to spend his time on the court with Afflalo as his shadow -- an annoying shadow with long arms, quick moves and unflinching determination.
Afflalo has been the rock in Bruin defense the whole season while some of his team-mates had to miss lot of games due to injuries. In fact the Bruins this season lost 87-man games due to the injuries on our rosters. But thankfully for us (as Dohn notes) the freshmen stepped up in a big way this season:
When Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins were injured early in the season, freshman power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute received more playing time. When Cedric Bozeman tore the labrum in his shoulder in December, freshman wing Michael Roll played more.

As point guard Jordan Farmar fought through several ankle sprains, freshman point guard Darren Collison took on a greater role.

And as Fey remained on the bench much of the season, freshmen big men Ryan Wright and Alfred Aboya gained playing experience.

In total, UCLA lost 87 man games to injury, with the biggest hits coming when Bozeman and Hollins missed a combined 14 games. But the young Bruins didn't miss a beat.

"It's because they've been through a lot. They've seen it all," Bozeman said. "They've seen the injuries. They had to step in and play early in the season. They've been through the losses. They're playing like seniors now."
And they are playing defense. Dan Wetzel from YahooSports has a good article on Howland defense in Westwood. Nothing really new there - but still a pretty good read for a national scribe. And, Randy Hill from Fox Sports probably has the penned best national column yet on Howland's Bruin defense in Westwood:
They bump cutters and disrupt passing lanes. They quickly rotate to help and recover. They rapidly close out shooters and move their sneakers to prevent dribble penetration. Expert on-ball defenders include Bozeman, a former point guard who stands 6-foot-6, sophomore shooting guard Arron Afflalo, freshman forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and freshman backup point guard Darren Collison.

These defenders usually push dribblers toward the sidelines or a baseline trap, refusing to sacrifice the sacred middle of UCLA's defense.

And from the same article this is the perfect way to sum it up to the Bruin Nation's reaction to what is going on with our hoops program:
A bare-knuckled march to another championship may fail to pass typical Hollywood muster, but the test audiences don't seem to care.
Yeap that's us. At this point its a no-brainer - its our defense which has gotten us this far. And we love it. Less than 60 hours till we see that stingy, suffocating, inside-the-jersey BRUIN DEFENSE.

GO BRUINS