Started my morning scan of the two LA papers with Daily News. And there it is - the two sophomore superstars setting the tone and putting in perspective what this (our 28th Pacific conference title) really means in the grand scheme of things for the greatest college basketball program in the world. From Arron recounting why he choose to wear those magical four letters in blue and gold:
And from his partner in crime, the best point guard in America: Jordan Farmar:
"We have other goals and higher expectations for ourselves."
These two have set the foundation for a program that is back where it belongs in the Pac-10 and now will continue to move on up towards the top of the basketball world:
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Back to the game from yesterday afternoon. It was the most dominating performance of the season. Arron (16pts) and Jordan (13 pts) led the way. But we got key performances from everyone else. Here is the kind of balanced performance the team put on at Maples:
UCLA was dominant in all the major categories; it outrebounded the Cardinal, 33-24, led by Mbah a Moute's game-high nine, and even had fewer turnovers, seven to Stanford's 15.
It was a satisfying finish to the conference season, satisfying enough to bring a smile to even Bozeman's face.
Of course the kid you really had to feel good for was Cedric Bozeman. Lavin almost destroyed his career at UCLA - over hyping him before his arrival in Westwood putting him in impossible situation. Howland saved this kid's career in Westwood putting him in a place now where he can leave UCLA in peace and with a legacy he is going to feel good about for rest of his life. Ced played a huge role in getting it all rolling - which will get UCLA back to where it belongs. And Ced is feeling good:
And we appreciate you Ced. Here in BruinsNation we have stuck with Ced and his coach - an obvious leading candidate for the National Coach of the Year honor - Coach Ben Howland:
AP Photo: Paul Sakuma
Yes, when Howland arrived here lot of his detractors - mostly left over Lavin supporters, Dorrell supporters, clueless wankers in LA media (someone should look up the Adande/Plascke articles the week Howland arrived in Westwood in 03), subtly egged on by Lavin himself - have been on his case saying his style of basketball wouldn't fly in LA. Well they are coming around. Less than 24hours Bruins clinching their first Pac-10 title, here is Diane Pucin of LA Times singing the praises of Howland brand of basketball
That's also what the Bruins are now: hard-working, fundamentally sound, not flashy.
It used to be thought that Los Angeles' foremost college team needed to be about bright lights and big dunking. There's something to appreciate, though, about a team that will make five, six, seven shots a game right as the shot clock expires because there is no panic and there is always time for one more pass. There's something to admire about a team that understands about pushing for inside rebounding position and never letting up on defense.
Howland will never coach the "Showtime" Bruins. He will, instead, coach the championship Bruins.
Howland brand of basketball is of course championship basketball. Again, a note to all the haters out there:Howland brought home this title without his third leading scorer (Shipp), his best inside player (Mata), and with a roster dominated by sophomores and freshmen, that was devastated by injuries the whole season. And we are just getting started. We just won a regular season Pac-10 title in a season we were predicted to finish no better than 3rd. Now rest will follow. Pac-10 tourney, deep runs in the Big-Dance, Banner no. 12 - they are going to come. Right now just settle in and enjoy this ride. We are just getting started towards something very special. GO BRUINS.