I feel like partying. It was a great win yesterday and a great sign for the future of the program. Yet, this is one of the most frustrating news roundups I have done in my decade or so on Bruinsnation. It is backwards of what you would think of as the LA Times beatwriter wants to start a fight and not celebrate. On other hand, it is quite enjoyable today from the Arizona side.
The Arizona Republic is now wishing that the Pac-12 does not go to a balanced conference schedule. Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star writes:
One of the frequent complaints about the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule has been that Arizona and UCLA don’t always meet every season at McKale Center.
Um, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing for the Wildcats.
Shooting a season-worst 25.4-percent from the field in a 65-52 loss to the Bruins, Arizona lost its third straight game to UCLA at McKale and is now just 3-4 against the Bruins in Tucson since the Pac-12 added Utah and Colorado in 2011-12 and began playing an unbalanced schedule.
Saturday’s game was the ugliest version yet against the Bruins, now a more defensive-minded bunch under first-year coach Mick Cronin. The Wildcats hit just one of their final nine shots to end the first half and trailed 29-28 at halftime, then were even worse in the second half.
I loved every part of this article. UCLA owning Arizona in basketball is important because Arizona has historically been our biggest conference rival in basketball. Sean Miller getting destroyed after his dig at Coach Cronin makes it better. Here are a few excerpts from Miller’s post-game press conference:
They were good at both ends. . . . They were better than us from start to finish. . . . They were the bigger, stronger, more physical team. . . . We were 0-12 from three in the second half and we were 3-19 from two in the first half . . . . They played hard. . . . It’s a man’s game. You have to be physical. You have to go through contact. You can’t cry. Their toughness and physicality wore on all of us.
It was fun to watch this. I could comment more, but I will just say that it makes me smile that we made Arizona want to “cry.”
On the other hand, the usually good LA Times’ Ben Bolch writes a crap article as if he is a troll on the comment section of a blog. This was a great win, not good, but great as UCLA not only beat Arizona, but they made “out toughed” them. UCLA made the Arizona Wildcats play the Bruins’ game. But, when you read Bolch, he is trying to find the negative to highlight in a story entitled UCLA’s victory over Arizona bolsters expectations of a strong finish to season.
Now, it could be argued, comes the tough part for the Bruins. They have won five of their last seven games, including triumphs over two nationally ranked teams, raising expectations that they should close coach Mick Cronin’s first season with a memorable finish.
He then quotes Cronin’s post game comment that probably came from a question from Ben:
Welcome to my job. You’re going to go and write about we should win the rest of them, of how we figured it out and I finally did a good job coaching. We’ve been waiting all year for me to do a better job, and now we’ve got to go and win every game. It’s OK. That’s the way it is.
This pisses me off. I am going to speak for most non-trolls here. I am happy, no ecstatic, to get a win in Arizona with a team whose best offensive player averaged four points a game in the Pac-12 last season and the next best is coming off a major injury. The way the UCLA Bruins won made Arizona’s [Insert your favorite negative adjective here] Sean Miller talk about his team wanting to “cry.” No, this is not 1974 when fans expected to win every game. This is, instead, a dozen years since we saw defense this good and a total destruction of the Bruins’ top rival.
Can’t UCLA fans just enjoy the win?!?!
So, stop trolling Ben. Here is the quote you should have used from Coach Cronin (emphasis added):
You can’t play much better than that. But they missed some open shots. At least we made it hard on them, didn’t give them layups. We kept them out of transition, made them play five on five and took our chances. They missed some good looks. Once we controlled the defensive glass, the game was over, which is hard to do against them, really hard to do.
Bingo! It’s a bit modest, but it still makes the point how well the Bruins played. They played a near-perfect game, shooting over 50% and holding the other team to 25% for the game. They won’t do this every night, but, man, is this a good sign for the future. And, no, it does not mean UCLA fans expect to win every game forever now. But the Pac-12 season shows that Coach Cronin gives Bruin fans a reason to root for UCLA Basketball again.