clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Moving Forward ...

So the Bruins are 15-1. They just finished a difficult road-trip winning 2 out 3 games. Thanks to UNC's loss against Va Tech yesterday afternoon (BTW did any one catch Lavo saying Florida having a more difficult schedule than UCLA rofl?) Bruins will move back up the rankings, setting themselves up at the top of the Pac. Yesterday afternoon they wiped away the memories of a stinging loss again Oregon thanks again to the heroics of their heart and soul. Brian Dohn leads of his report with AA's heroics:

A week ago, with tears running down his cheek and seething anger, UCLA guard Arron Afflalo vowed the next time a winning shot was needed at the end of a game, it would come from his right hand.

Now, everyone knows why.

Afflalo's hanging 14-footer with 4.7 seconds remaining capped a crazy final minute in which the Bruins blew a six-point lead, then got the winning basket from their biggest star as No. 4 UCLA beat archrival USC 65-64 Saturday in front of a crowd of 9,682 at Galen Center.

"This definitely makes me feel better," Afflalo said. "The past is the past, and we're moving forward now. Losing never leaves you until your next win."

When the Bruins' lost a week ago at Oregon, Afflalo never got a chance to take the winning shot at the buzzer. He spoke about that moments after the game and reiterated it during the week.

"People asked me what the pressure was like, knowing you made the comments last weekend," Afflalo said. "The very next (game) you're in that situation, and I did feel that pressure a little bit. But once the ball got in my hands, everything else just calmed down."
Well in addition calming down, Arron shut up the loud mouth losers who had been spouting all week about how supposedly the TrOJans are a relevant basketball program:

AA and Ben Ball Warriors Celebrating in Pauley South, Richard Hartog / LAT

Bruins beat up a Trojan team on their brand new basketball court, despite playing without their second leading scorer, and despite getting hosed in calls after calls by the typical incompetent Pac-10 official crew making homerific calls.

Now we heard all week about how Timmeh is a good coach and is building a relevant program out in South Central. Yet last night once again it was Howland's Ben Ball warriors, who looked like the superior coached team, playing real lockdown defense, keeping focus on offense, and causing the other team to make bonehead plays. Of course Trojans are making all kinds of excuses about how they lost focus blah blah blah, but the reality was it was Ben Ball's suffocating, lockdown defense, that caused those Trojies to play stupid basketball coughing the game away.

Anyways, in addition to Arron there were other Ben Ball heroes who helped the team move forward from the disappointment in Eugene.

One of them was Darren Collison, who despite than phantom foul on Nick Young, had an incredible second half. He made clutch shot after clutch shots keeping the Bruins in game, when the Trojans were making their run in second half. What I love about DC is he plays within the team game. The kid never takes selfish shots, and takes his 3 pointers only when he gets open looks within the flow of the game. More on DC's game from Dohn:
UCLA's offense was stagnant in the first half, and when the Bruins seemed to be looking for a spark early in the second half, Collison jumped to the forefront.

USC held a 42-32 lead with 15 minutes to play when Collison hit a pair of 3-pointers and two foul shots.

His 3-pointer a few minutes later capped a spurt in which he scored 12 of UCLA's 14 points.

"I just wanted to keep attacking and attacking until we got something," Collison said. "At that time, when I was driving, Arron and I were the only ones who could attack. They were face-guarding Arron, so it was my job to step up."
With Shipp out for at least one or two more games, our team is going to need DC to step up lot more in the coming week.

Another kid who stepped up: Lo Mata. Mata had a shaky start (turning the ball over multiple times in early going) and a shaky end (those missed FTs) but for rest of the game he was MONEY. He and rest of the Bruin bigs helped keep the so called "freshman" phenom Taj Gibson (21 year freshman who didn't get a late start because of religious missions) in check limiting him to 9 points. More from BBR's game wrap up:
Challenged by USC freshman phenom Taj Gibson, UCLA's big men in the middle rose to the occasion combining for a total of 19 points and 17 rebounds while holding Gibson to an almost double-double, 9 points and 8 rebounds.  Lorenzo Mata scored 12 points and shared team-high honors of 8 rebounds with Alfred Aboya who also scored 5 points.  Ryan Wright scored two points on a tip-in in his two minutes of play.
Again it was interesting to see how some local scribes reacted to Mata's one bad game against Oregon. This kid is still a work in progress. And despite his on going learning process under Howland, he keeps making key contributions game after game. Let's put it this way at this point of his career, Mata is way ahead of players like Ryan Hollins and even George Zidek during their respective third seasons in Westwood. And Mata will have room to grow, and a chance to make meaningful contributions in the coming weeks, and in the coming year, when his efforts will be complimented by improving AA2, Wright, and of course the anticipated role of Kevin Love.

Now going back to last night's game this still team has some residual concerns/issues to address as they move forward. Once again Luc doesn't seem himself. He is making his presence felt, and making invaluable contributions, but he has slowed down a little. He is not as dominating around the glass as he was as a freshman. And there are stories coming from Westwood (as reported in BBR's wrapup), it may be due to tendonitis in his knee. So he is gutting it out like a Ben Ball warrior, and doing the best he can. Still I'd like to see him cut down on his 3 point attempt (even though he probably is shooting at a high percentage) and just focus on helping out on defense.

Westbrook had another really good game. The kid is fearless. I just love how he attacks, attacks, and attacks on both sides of the court. He will make some first year mistakes here and there, but by the end of the regular season, he does have the potential to become one of the best players on this roster. As for Keefe, once again I urge everyone here to be patient. I do believe before he is done in Westwood, Keefe is going to become a big time player. I like how in the limited minutes he boxes out, uses his long arm to get the rebounds, do whatever he can to help the team. As he gets more and more time, his shots will began to fall. He will make his mark on both ends of the court before it is all over.

All in all another gutsy win for Ben Ball warriors. Now they need to get ready for a tough home stand against Arizona schools. They simply cannot afford to look past this Thursday's game against ASU. Those guys are led by a pretty good coach in Herb Sendek, and just like every other team on Bruins schedule, they are going to come out and give their best shot. Hopefully, our guys will use the momentum generated from AA's big shot to keep moving forward. If our guys don't worry about the any of the nonsense in the traditional media (like we heard all last week leading up to Saturday's game about JustSC challenging us in hoops) and keep playing their brand of basketball featuring that lock-down defense, we are going to be all right.