Good morning and welcome to the dreaded weekend game of a basketball road trip. The Bruins made the short drive north from Tucson to Tempe and will play the ASU Sun Devils today at 1 pm PST, and the game will be televised on FoxSportsNet. You should read DCBruins' outstanding preview here.
ASU is 15-4 and has played pretty well this season. They are coming off an OT win over the trogans on Thursday, and are now tied for third in the conference with Oregon and Arizona. The Bruins of course are coming off their biggest win in 5 years, which tells you all you need to know about the last 5 years. Not that that matters to the Howlers out there who are blind to the long term prospects of our program and will even denigrate a Bruin legend like Bill Walton when he dares to criticize some of the coaching decisions. But really, it's getting pretty predictable. Witness tasser10's pregame comments from Thursday
...which won't matter when Ben LOLand calls a timeout after a Powell dunk or a Parker block only to sit them back on the bench for being naughty.
What he meant to say was "calls a timeout while on a fast break or a Parker three point play only to sit them back on the bench for being naughty". Honestly, folks, we don't make this stuff up.
Though Howland's teams have often struggled with second games on road trips, ASU is even thinner than the Bruins and not as talented, so this is still a team the Bruins should easily beat. As we always do, we will root like crazy for a Bruins' win today. And as we always do, we will not apologize for rooting for the best for our athletics programs which need new leadership on the court and inside Morgan Center.
To lead us up to game time, let's take a quick spin around the UCLAiverse and see what's making news
- To start off, there is some tough news for the Bruins and Travis Wear. Travis sustained a concussion after a questionably intentional elbow to the head in Thursday night's game at Arizona. He failed concussion tests at halftime and did not return, and he was still symptomatic yesterday and will not play today against the Sun Devils. RichRod may be confused by this move, but it is the right thing for Travis. T Wear has certainly stepped up as a good offensive threat this year, so his absence will leave the Bruins searching for points in the middle. More importantly, the Bruins have been going with an 8 man rotation, but that will now drop to 7 unless Howland elects to play any of his walk-ons. Geez, you think it might have been a good idea to get Tony Parker more than 3 minutes a game before now so that he would be ready to step in and fill the void? Nah, me either. Just play David all those extra minutes. He looks like Travis, anyway. According to Howland
"It just means that everybody's got to play more minutes and we've got to play smart,"
- Shabazz Muhammed is getting more attention these days, but this time it's not for his steady improvement this season. It's for his backpack. Make that his $1,000 Gucci backpack. It's crazy that such a thing even exists in the first place, and it has now caught the attention of the media. Shabazz's sister, Asia, a professional tennis player, says she and her mom bought it for him as a birthday gift and that she has the receipt to prove it. UCLA's compliance office says the matter is closed. We'll see if this gets the attention of the holier-than-thou hypocrites at the NCAA, who are now busy investigating themselves. Look for that issue to be resolved by 2018. On the other hand, this is not the first question about Muhammed's eligibility, so we better hope that there are no skeletons hiding inside Ben's program. Meanwhile, Gucci or not, if you set that Bling-bling pack down on the hill west of Powell Library, the squirrels will still dig through it to steal your M&M's. They aren't impressed.
- Turning to the NBA for a bit, two Bruins will be playing in this year's All Star Game. Russell Westbrook will be back for his third consecutive all star appearance, and Jrue Holiday will get his first all-star nod. No doubt Kevin Love would have made it three Bruins if he would just quit breaking his hand. Congrats to both Russell and Jrue. The All-Star Game will be played in Houston on Feb 17th.
- Sticking with the NBA, there was a great Q&A with Bruin great Arron Afflalo at Grantland.com. Afflalo is leading his Orlando Magic in scoring this season, but he isn't satisfied with his accomplishments so far. He was asked about how he sees himself, and his answer shows why he has risen so far, and why he will always be one of my favorite Bruins.
It's just something that's somewhat unexplainable, in a sense, because I've always felt a sense of greatness as a kid. I've always felt a lack of satisfaction of where I'm at. Before I even got to the NBA, college, high school, anything else, there was always a feeling inside that I could do better, I could be better. It just hasn't changed, regardless of the level of success I have in the NBA. Honestly, I can't stop because it's not fulfilling to me. I guess that's where work ethic comes from. There's an extra incentive to push through struggles or push through disbelief. I don't know if that comes from my background, my upbringing, partially due to the environment that I grew up in, but it's the truth. Honestly, I can't stop because failing or staying where I'm at just doesn't feel good. I have no choice but to get better.
- And we'll finish with a note from campus. U.C.L.A. Women's soccer coach B.J. Snow is leaving Westwood to coach the U.S Women's U-17 team. Though the Bruins have been loaded with talent, they have not advanced past the Elite 8 in either of Coach Snow's two years. If anyone here has any insight or ideas as to where the Bruins should look for a new women's soccer coach, we'd be interested to hear.
There's Bruin Bites for this morning. Let's win today, and let's win for the future.