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Seniors Locking In?

glassbruin articulated below what many of us have been talking about this entire season: it all starts with our defense. During our tough losses we read number of opinions (not from here) from around the internets and the traditional media about how Coach Howland's offense was letting us down. Yet time and time again we talked about defense and how the lack of a lock down defensive presence has hurt us in number of key situations this year (including in our two frustrating losses at home). So I completely agree with him in the sense that instead of depending on luck it has to start with our defense.  Hopefully what we saw during our Bay Area trips - the defensive intensity following slow starts - will be the norm in our next game leading to a strong homestand to close out the regular season.

I wanted to note something else though. Let's revisit the play of the season to date IMO:

Thanks again Tele!

And then he made these comments after the game:

"Nobody remembers who wins the conference. Let's be real," Collison said. "Everybody's memory is who wins the national championship."

UCLA can earn a share of the title by sweeping Oregon State and Oregon next weekend, and if Washington loses.

"I remember when we did win the Pac-10 Conference, we lost in the Final Four and that's all we thought about," Collison said. "We didn't think about winning the Pac-10 Conference. We thought about losing the Final Four. It's nice to win the Pac-10 Conference and congratulations to (Washington) coach (Lorenzo) Romar and his staff, but at the same time we understand what's No. 1.

"We want to win this whole thing outright."

I thought those comments were interesting if not revealing. I believe DC has been giving everything he has this season but still I sensed a different sense of urgency from him that I hadn't felt from him our our team the entire season.

I have to tell you while we have seen DC make clutch plays a number of times as a Ben Ball warrior, I don't remember him leading the team the way he did on Saturday night. I don't remember a DC yelling encouragements at a team-mate (at least watching on TV) like he did with DG, after the kid took a really bad shot.  I also saw DC pulling in JH and talking to him (in what appeared to be firing him up) after the kid had a bad possession on offense. I also don't remember DC doing the Earl Watson routine.

Something felt different on Saturday night. After losing close games against Texas, Washington, ASU (twice), and WSU, I wasn't feeling very confident during those closing mins on Saturday ngiht. Then once I saw that shot from DC, things felt different. For some reason I could feel the vibe of this entire season changing. I felt as if FINALLY the whole team led by their floor general was locking in.

Going back to DC's post game comments, while I respect his desire to win it all, I am not naive. I appreciate his and his team-mates UCLA level expectations (that's how it should be). But what I am excited about is to find out whether we will see the same focus, the same sort of locking in mentality from DC and rest of his team-mates on Thursday night.

Perhaps DC, JS and PAA are taking their game to another level with their magnificient UCLA careers coming to an end. We know PAA has been playing at that level for the entire season as he has been the only player who has lived up to the billing of a "Ben Ball warrior" in every game. But now it seems like DC and JS might be ... just might be ... waking up ... and getting ready to provide that Ed O/AA like "fiery" leadership we all have been pining for this entire season. I can't wait till the next game to find out how they come out. Let's hope we get to see some senior barn cats on the lose, enjoying every remaining moments in their last games at Pauley.