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In Howland We Trust: Ben Ball Game Day Roundup

I feel the same way I felt the morning of my bar exam almost eight years ago. I can't possibly process any more information on tonight's game. Not sure how much more info. I can take in concerning tonight's match-up. There is nothing coming out of the MSM this game day, which we can consider as new news.

I don't think the Bruins Nation, from Coach Howland to his players to rest of us cannot be any more prepared tactically, mentally, and physically for tonight's game. We trust our Coach:

Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images via the LAT

But just to keep it honest since we have done this game day roundups all season, here are some tidbits I took in this morning. Dohn finally picks up on the Duke-UNLV circa 1991 story line:

NBA riches were waiting, but friendships, a fancy-free lifestyle and an opportunity for college basketball immortality brought them back. They were, by far, the most talented team in the nation, and by the time the Final Four arrived they were either loved or hated, with no in between.

They were Jerry Tarkanian's last great UNLV team. The Runnin' Rebels were undefeated, flashy, arrogant, and beyond all the glitz, they were downright good ... until Duke shocked everyone by rebounding from a 30-point loss in the title game a year ago to beat UNLV 79-77 in the 1991 national semifinals before defeating Kansas in the title game.

It is an eerily similar situation facing defending champion Florida. Although the Gators are not undefeated, coaches agree they are the most talented team, they carry a level of arrogance, and are widely despised because of their favored status.

Florida, the top seed in the NCAA Tournament, plays UCLA in today's second NCAA Tournament Final Four matchup at the Georgia Dome. Yes, the same UCLA program embarrassed 73-57 in last year's national title game by the Gators.

"I think Florida is probably the better team, but if the ball bounces right, UCLA will win," Tarkanian said. "If Florida is playing well, I don't think anybody can beat them. But if Florida doesn't play real well, and just plays real good, somebody can beat them."
I don't agree with Tark. I think if Bruins are playing well, playing Ben Ball, it will not matter how Florida plays. We will win the game if we play our style of basketball can impose our will on the Gator stars.

Dohn has more UCLA notes including this bit on AA's second chance:
Afflalo's second chance: The 6-5 Afflalo had a brutal offensive time when the Gators pummeled UCLA 73-57 in the 2006 national title game. He was unable to get open shots against 6-9 wing Corey Brewer, and suffered through a 3-of-10 shooting night and scored 10 points.

The two are expected to be matched up again today, but Afflalo said he learned a few things.

"He's long and athletic and he's skilled on both ends of the floor," Afflalo said of Brewer. "I have a clear memory of who he is. I knew him beforehand, I know who he is now. I'm a little more prepared to play. I believe it wasn't so much him, but my mind-set, and the way I approached the game and that passive nature is not going to get it done in this type of game."
We live in a time when individual accolades [cough*Kobe*cough (and I am a Laker fan)] are glorified over team victories. If there ever was a kid who deserves his time in the spotlight and get his due from the whole nation, it's AA. I have been saying extra prayers for AA this whole week. I can't put into words how badly I want this kid to go out on top. Considering what he has given us for last three years, there hasn't been a player more deserving of a perfect sendoff in Westwood than Arron Afflalo.

Elsewhere in the Daily News Steve Dilbeck has a column on how the Bruins will pull out a win. Robert Kuwada in the OC Register hits some of the same themes about Bruins being ready this time around:
The Bruins also figure to play a smarter game, with Coach Ben Howland and his staff getting six days to prepare for the Gators and ferret out ways to defend Noah and Horford as well as Brewer, the three-point shooter Lee Humphrey and point guard Taurean Green.

Despite that Donovan and the Gators had only a few hours longer than Howland to prepare for the national championship game a year ago, Florida was primed to a level that stunted the Bruins at both ends of the floor.

"They were really prepared. Everything that we threw at them, they had a counter for," Aboya said. "We were not as prepared as we needed to be. The plays that they had run before that, they changed it completely and we came out with the same game plan and that's why it was easy to defend us and counter everything we brought."

The Bruins tried many things -- they doubled in the post, had the 6-6 senior Cedric Bozeman defend the 6-foot Green. But Florida had them well-scouted and was well-prepared.

"Last year, we doubled at the wing and to counter that they weren't setting their screen at the wing, they were setting their screen right at the middle of the floor, so it was difficult for us to rotate over and they got easy layups and three-point shots out of that," Aboya said.

"We're prepared this time. We'll be ready."
Let's hope AA2 and rest of his team mates words about being prepared and being ready to compete match their performance on the court tonight.

Meanwhile on the other end of Southern California's traditional media spectrum, the LA Times finally decided to put full court press in covering the best athletic program in town (which plays by the rules). Bill Plaschke has another column full of mindless drivel. In his column he is picking the Bruins to win tonight after picking against us in six of our last seven NCAA victories.  Whatever Bill. Go Cheney yourself and stick to sniffing Pom Pom's jockstraps over at South Central.

And then there is Helen Elliott declaring how the Bruins are going to be "Gator meat" tonight. (HT to wakinder).

I am not sure what kind of omen this is, but here is Diane Pucin's prediction for tonight's game after going over the match ups:
KEY -- Florida averages 84 points a game; UCLA gives up 59.5. So it would seem up to the Bruins to slow down the Gators. That was supposed to be how Kansas would beat the Bruins last week, by swarming over UCLA with its better athletes and deeper bench. The Bruins need Mata, Mbah a Moute and Aboya to be physical on defense and aggressive offensively. Afflalo must be able to drive around Brewer and the Bruins can't afford to commit 25 turnovers as they did against Kansas. The Gators didn't have to deal with Collison's quickness, three-point aim and defensive pressure last year.

PREDICTION -- UCLA 76, Florida 72.
Forgive me if I feel like I have to take a shower after reading the predictions of Plaschke and Pucin, given how these fools have covered our Bruins the whole season.

That is why I can't read any more game day stories. However, if you are looking to read more, more, and some articles, check out the game day roundup at BBR, which has collection of stories from writers outside LA. For more odds and ends on Ben Ball check out the linkages over at Bruin Hoop Scoop.

That's it from my end. I am not physically capable of getting any more fired up about this game. All there is left now is for our Ben Ball warriors to come out and play their game. There is nothing else we can do except to trust Coach Howland. Not a bad place to be if live and die with Bruin basketball.