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Sounds like it was an incredible night for the Bruin Nation. For those of us who weren't at Pauley yesterday, Insomniac was kind enough to email us this video he was able to capture after the game was over:



That's good stuff. Those lucky bastards in the Den.

I can't imagine the emotion they were experiencing during that scene. Well I am sure they will still be writing and talking decades later when they get nostalgic as some 30 something Bruin alum over at some blog fanatical about blue and gold.

To the game. Many of you have already chimed in with some great observations and great stories in the diaries and post game thread. I will see if I can add some thoughts based on what I am reading today, and more importantly what I saw transpiring on TV.

It was emotional. Ben Ball warriors were jacked up for yesterday's game. Here is Coach Howland in Pucin's game wrap up on how amped up our players were heading into the tip off, which also explains why the Bruins looked a little tight early in the first half:

Howland said his team was so eager to play that the players all arrived earlier than usual.

"Normally they're here an hour, 15 minutes before the game," Howland said. "Today they were dressed and ready to go an hour 45 minutes early. They were really amped up. Maybe too much."

Afflalo, Collison and Michael Roll all missed open jump shots at the start. Afflalo, an 81% free-throw shooter, even missed two of his first three free throws. The Bruins had a 36-33 halftime lead because Afflalo scored on a four-point play with 59.7 seconds left. He made a fall-away three-point basket and was fouled. The free throw gave UCLA a 36-30 lead.
Stanford shot 51 percent last night. But I have to say it is not bothering me as much as I think it should. Even though Stanford shot at a pretty high percentage, I thought the Bruins were for the most part were doing a great job of playing aggressive defense, creating defense, double teaming down low, and rotating around defense. Brook Lopez was just ridiculous. He was making some sick shots even though Bruins were doing every thing they can to put man (or two) on his face.

You can sense what kind of defense Bruins were playing if you consider how AA limited Lawrence Hill to just 13 points (4 for 9) effectively shutting Stanford's main weapon, who killed the Bruins last time out.

And there were those 16 Stanford TOs in the face of that classic, suffocating, Ben Ball pressure around perimeter. I really loved how DC was forcing Johnson to spend so much energy to bring the ball up court, was by the time Stanford was getting into their sets, they didn't have much time to execute.

On offense AA once again led all the scorers with a smooth 20 point performance. As Pucin mentioned above he changed the complexion of the entire game late in that first half with the four point play. That was an early dagger, the momentum from which propelled the Bruins to their key run early on the second half.

It was Mata and Luc's play though that had me really excited yesterday. Mata barely missed scoring in the double digits (8 points) for the fourth consecutive game. I am not sure if we can conclude whether he is getting into the same groove, that Hollins found himself in late last season, but the signs clearly point him to getting pretty comfortable. From Helen Elliott's column in the LA Times:
Mata, perhaps regaining his timing and conditioning after knee surgery in October and a recent hip injury, had eight points, four rebounds and three blocks in a career-high 33 minutes.

"I thought Lorenzo again played really strong for us," Howland said. "He did a good job battling those big guys down there."

For Mata, his improvement is easily explained. "It's just a matter of confidence," he said. "The more shots I take, the more confident I get. I'm getting more comfortable down low."
I think if Mata keeps playing confident and combine with that AA2's continued improved play, that may really give us the inside presence we need to compliment our incredible back court, to make a run during rest of the season.

As for Luc, again I am digging how this kid is starting to drive around the baseline and attacking the rim. He must be feeling a little better these days. He had 11 points and 7 boards in 23 mins (fouled out early). He probably could have had 4 more points as he barely missed finishing up on 2 layup opportunities after driving around his man around the baseline. That's the Luc I was hoping to see during early part of the conference game. Better late then never I guess. I just hope Luc keeps playing like this and keep attacking the rim. If he keeps doing that we will continue to experience the festive atmosphere everyone soaked in at Pauley.

Speaking of that festive atmosphere, thought this note in Elliott's column courtesy of former Bruin great Mike Warren was pretty interesting (HT to 66):
Mike Warren, who was a smooth, playmaking guard on that triumphant team and went on to become an actor of some repute, has similarly high expectations for the current Bruins.

"I think Coach Howland has really turned the program around. He's brought a new spirit, a whole different attitude and defensive scheme that has not been seen since Jim Harrick," said Warren, slender and dapper and not far from his playing shape at a few weeks short of his 61st birthday.

"The fans are now coming out and they know what to expect. They know they're going to have a hard-fought game. The team is not going to give up.

"I think at this time they're on the crest of something great."
Hmm .... May be some day we will be hearing same kind of comments from Cade McNown, when the Bruins are making a charge towards the BCS under their next football coach. Sorry can't resist it. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Obviously something very special is in the air with Coach Howland's basketball program (and the contrast with his counter part involved with other major revenue program couldn't be more stark). Anyways ...

I know everyone here is ridiculously excited. And we should be. We have every reason to get lathered up in a frenzy with the Madness just days away. But please note over here on the main page we are going to take one game at a time. So we are not going to look beyond the Washington State game (Doesn't mean you guys can't engage in discussion wrt to the big picture in the diary section. That's what they are there for!). But we will take our cues from Coach Howland, AA and rest of his team-mates and keep taking this season one game at time. From AA in the OC Register's game wrap up:
"You're never going to be perfect, but you strive for it and there are some things we still need to work on," Afflalo said.

"There were times last year where we were just focused in, and it seemed like every possession was hard for the other team. Every shot was contested, every pass, every move, was complicated for the other team. You could tell.

"This year, we still have some little lapses. I think if we take care of those things, we'll be fine when the time is right."
And then he had to say this on the 1967 team (in Elliott's column):
"Any time you get a group of special guys like that, that did something special for the university, it's always good. It uplifts the spirits of our fans and the players, and it gives you a reason to keep competing for something greater than yourself."
Just another example of why everyone here is so incredibly proud of this very special Bruin.

Let's soak it all in.  Let's enjoy every day of this special ride one game at a time.

GO BRUINS.