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It's GO TIME ...

Less than 11 hours to. I was a little worried about Ryan yesterday afternoon when I saw the diary on his bruised thigh, but it sounds like he is going to play. He may not be all right I am sure he is going to bring that full intensity at the dome tonight. More on Hollins injury from Dohn's notes. Dohn's notes also have a look into how UCLA coaches prepare for their opponents. Here is a glimpse:

Here's the way it works: Daniels scouted LSU, watching about a dozen games, including each one in the postseason. Zeigler was in charge of Florida and Keating got George Mason, and each watched about a dozen games.

After the reports are put together, the assistants go over it with Howland. The team then gets a few pages (some players said as many as five) detailing the opposition, including tendencies of each player, such as, how often a player shoots when he dribbles left, or how often Tigers center Glen "Big Baby" Davis goes right or left when he catches the ball in the low post, and whether he is more apt to shoot or pass depending on the direction of his move.
And I am sure as Dohn notes there is lot more to Bruin game preparation than those painfully detailed scouting reports, which is why all of us should feel good about what may take place tonight. Of course during the last few days we have been hearing lot of colorful comments coming out of the LSU locker-room and interesting predictions out of the experts mouths. That is fine. Our players have ice waters flowing through their veins. They are not going to get all worked up over that stuff and at this point they are focused since they know how close they are to Bruin immortality:
The banners hang from the rafters, circling Pauley Pavilion. All 11 of them taunt opponents and sometimes torment the home team, all while paying homage to the splendid history of UCLA basketball and its national championships.

Until now, joining that fraternity was something too distant for many of the Bruins to wholeheartedly consider.

But on the eve of UCLA's first Final Four appearance since 1995, Bruins senior wing Cedric Bozeman understands how close he is to becoming a member of the school's impressive legacy.

"You can see it. It's not that close to touch, but it's there," Bozeman said. "People still talk about that '95 team, and we can be the same thing."
From the same article Dohn has keys to today's game:
UCLA (31-6) is allowing 54.8 points in four NCAA Tournament games. Its opponents are shooting 37.9 percent from the field and have committed 82 personal fouls. Moreover, nine of UCLA's last 10 opponents failed to score 60 points.

The Bruins' defensive keys are to keep Davis (18.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg) from establishing position in the low post, being quick to double-team once he gets the ball, and keeping the ultra-athletic Tigers off the boards.

"You have to deny (Davis) the ball, don't let him get touches," UCLA backup center Alfred Aboya said. "Once he catches the ball, it's difficult to guard him. You have to push him high up and get pressure on the ball from the perimeter. That way, he can't get any touches."

LSU (27-8) is no defensive slouch. It is holding opponents to 58.8 points per game on 33.9 percent shooting in the NCAA Tournament, and limited Duke to 54 points. The Tigers also play some 2-3 zone, which they did against Florida in the Southeastern Conference tournament.


Tigers guard Garrett Temple, who held Duke's J.J. Redick to 11 points in the regional semifinals, said slowing down UCLA's guards and leading scorers Arron Afflalo (16.2 ppg) and Jordan Farmar (13.4 ppg) is paramount to disjointing the Bruins offense.
Seems like they think taking out Jordan and Arron will have the same effect on our team it did on Duke when they took out Redick. Let's hope Luc, DC, Ryan, Ced et al. can continue to show the character, heart, not to mention production, which was missing from the Redick's teammates. Dohn has more on LSU-UCLA matchups and Steve Springer of the Times also has more on which team has the edge. Interestingly in terms of coaching matchup - Dohn gave the edge to LSU and Springer called it even. We will see. Couple of more items on today's matchups. Ramona Shellburne of the DN interviewed Alabama's Mark Gottfried and asked him to break down tonight's matchup and JD over BruinHoopScoop has some thoughts on tonight's matchup asl well.

Elsewhere more great articles from the DN today. Dohn profiles AA on growing up in Compton while Ramona Shelburne has a column on Jordan's days in Taft High School. Again, for all the good mojo here is the picture from Cal game at Berkeley - I have been posting on Saturdays:

Photo:  Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

And of course make sure to take one more look at this video clip (from 1995) before tonight's game. BTW - DN has more. Dilbeck has a piece conveying the sentiment of the BruinsNation - this has been one of the most exciting tourney in recent years, and some more UCLA Final-4 memories courtesy of former Bruin great Larry Farmar. If you want to read more game day stories here is BBR. Oh and here is the LA Times's UCLA page, which headlines with another rubbish POS article from Bill Plaschke - this one has to do with Coach Howland's water bottle (not making this up). Seems like their sports editor Bill Dwyre is trying to make peace with us by writing an article on how there is beauty in Howland's basketball. It's too bad Mr. Dwyre could have written that on Sunday when those stories were coming out re. our style of play.

Anyways it is pretty obvious right now no one except for the Bruin Nation wanted UCLA in the Final-4. That is why we have read so many derisive articles and see the predictions coming out of every corner of the country. Only 18 percent of ESPN's "SportsNation" believe UCLA has a chance to win banner no. 12. I hate to use the clich? of "us v. the world" but it is pretty obvious 80 percent of the country is rooting against the Bruins. That's too bad.

We have come this far. I wrote on Sunday night how this season is about exorcizing past demons. We got rid of the Arizona demon, we got rid of the Stanford demon, we won the Pac-10, we exorcized the demons of Lavin's Steve-16s, and now we are in Indiana. The state that gave us Coach Wooden and the state that also gave us the memories of Princeton and Detroit-Mercy. Time to exorcise one more. It's GO TIME.