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Madness Mode

The counter at top of BN says just 22 more days till the Madness begins. Per Dohn’s report today Coach Howland gathered the team on Monday and reminded them this is the time of the year when they have to kick it into a whole different gear upgrading their mindset from "serious" to "ultra-serious." And it sounds like Ben Ball warriors are "feeling it":

"We feel it. We feel that same vibe we did in the last NCAA Tournament, which is good," UCLA point guard Darren Collison said. "It's more serious, and more aware of losing, because in the tournament you only have one (loss) and you're done. All these games coming down to the tournament, you want to prepare yourself for that."

UCLA (23-3, 12-2) used a Pac-10 regular-season and tournament title to push to a No. 2 seed last season, and used venues in San Diego and Oakland as de facto home courts to fuel a run to the Final Four.

With an RPI rating of No. 1 and a top-five ranking most of the season, the first-place Bruins likely would secure a No. 1 seed by winning the Pac-10 regular-season title, and the players know that.
The players also know that while they have to keep their regular season goals in mind they simply cannot afford to look past their opponent. Thankfully Coach Howland has already figured out how to motivate his team for Thursday night’s game:
Although Cal (14-12, 6-8) is tied for seventh in the Pac-10 and is without centers DeVon Hardin (foot) and Jordan Wilkes (knee) and guard Nikola Knezevic, Howland came up with a way to inspire the Bruins.

"They've beaten us here the last two years in a row," Howland said. "Josh (Shipp) and Arron and Lorenzo (Mata) have never beaten Cal-Berkeley at Pauley Pavilion. Those three are 0 for 2 here. They've beaten us two years in a row, so they're not coming in here intimidated by playing in Pauley Pavilion."
More from Arron on how Coach Howland is getting them into Madness mode this week:
"Coach came in and gave us a motivational speech, a little bit, for us to regain our focus,'' guard Arron Afflalo said. "He said this is the most important time, when our focus must be at our highest, our intensity and our practice habits. We must do everything to the fullest of our potential to ensure we go as far as possible once again this year.''
This is an exciting time of the year for all us here on BN. I know many of us are keeping a close eye on top-5 teams. Yes I watched the last mins of the Wisconsin-MSU game last night. I am also keeping tabs on UNC, Florida, OSU, A&M, Kansas other schools. But at the same time over the years I have seen how our Bruins have lost game they had no business of losing on their home floor when everything was looking up.

I really hope they come out with a mindset this Thursday night which will get them into Madness mode going into these last four games of this regular season. As the old cliché goes now is the time they build their momentum one game at a time. Hey clichés actually mean something when you have a Coach like Howland in charge.