The Bruins wrapped up regular season play and Norman Powell's career in Pauley Pavilion in the best way possible tonight, with a strong home beating of Southern Cal, 85-74 in a game which was never really in doubt.
After an opening few minutes which saw the Bruins and trogans trade baskets and stay within a possession of each other, UCLA began to pull ahead thanks to a full team effort on offense, with Bryce Alford and Issac Hamilton sinking 3's, while Tony Parker, Kevon Looney and Powell hit their own shots. UCLA entered the locker room with a 46-35 lead, with Bryce Alford scoring 15 on a strong shooting effort, while Tony Parker added 13 1st half points along with 5 rebounds. The trogans actually outrebounded the Bruins in the opening period, 15-14. But more importantly, the trogans lost the early turnover battle, 9-3.
JustSC closed their deficit early in the 2nd half, getting within 7 in the first couple minutes of the 2nd half, and maintained their deficit around 8-10 points until the Bruins finally pulled away in the final 6 minutes. After taking an 85-69 with just over 2 minutes left, the benches began to empty, giving the walk-ons a final few moments on Nell and John Wooden court in front of their classmates and dozens of alums and fans. Alford finished with a game high 23 points on 7-10 shooting (5-6 from behind the arc) and 3 steals. Parker was close behind, scoring 22 while pulling in 7 rebounds, while Kevin Looney finished with a double-double in what was likely his final game at Pauley (13pts, 13 rebounds). Issac Hamilton also finished with 13 points to go with his 5 assists and 4 TO's. Norman Powell was not the star on the court tonight - scoring 12 points on 5-16 shooting with 3 rebounds and 4 assists - but I imagine that he is fine with simply beating Southern Cal at Pauley.
Norman's play has been one of the consistent bright spots in the basketball program over the past 4 years - not to say that he has been perfect every time out, but he has taken the court in every game during his time in Westwood, always an important part of the team. While he still has next week's Pac-12 Tournament and hopefully a couple of games beyond that in a UCLA uniform, tonight's beatdown of JustSC is the end of an era.
Tonight's ritualistic beating of the trogans ends another era, and is a fitting way to mark my final post on the frontpage of BN. It has been a fun few years, certainly never boring. But like islandbruin2 as well as a few of the other old time frontpagers have recently done, it is time to me to say my farewell.
Much of what first drew me to Bruins Nation, and has kept me engaged here for nearly a decade is the idea shared by the founders and fellow long-time contributors and community members that college sports have an impact and importance on the broader community far beyond just wins and losses. That as stakeholders in the successes and failures of the university - athletic, academic or otherwise - students and alumni (not to take away from the many non-alumni fans who are a part of our community) should praise the successes of those wearing the blue and gold, defend the program and student-athletes when they are unfairly attacked, but also call out program leaders and administrators when they make questionable decisions or are rumored to be considering unwise options, even when taking such a stand is unpopular in the wider Bruin fanbase. Heck, even when the stand is unpopular in our own community.
One of the critiques that often gets leveled against BN is that we are biased, that we have a strong point of view or even (gasp) approach Bruin athletics and college sports in general informed by a strong moral/ethical/legal compass. And those folks are absolutely correct, and I for one am proud to have been a part of that approach. That sort of personal imprint, or deliberate angle is the point of blogging and not serving as a sort of wire service, or uncoordinated or disorganized message board.
At the upper end of the spectrum, If one reads, say, The Guardian or the Wall Street Journal, there is an unmistakable editorial point of view at the heart of those publications which informs the whole of their content. While we have never claimed this site to be a journalistic endeavor, that basic idea is the same. Bruins Nation was founded and served to expand SB Nation's scope as the network's first non-MLB blog with a specific point of view regarding UCLA athletics, the university in general and their respective places in the world.
Over the years, we never hesitated to take definitive stands on related issues, whether they be over coaches, staff or other matters affecting Morgan Center and the university, with our more routine coverage and posts being grounded by and serving to advance those beliefs. In some other online Bruin communities, knowledge is considered a precious currency, rarely shared and never to be spent in attempting to fix obvious problems or prevent significant mistakes from occurring - even to the point of seeing the acquisition of such knowledge as a base end in itself. In the near decade of existence, BN has been different. Look at #SFAtPauley and #VetoSeto to name just a couple of our successful examples, along with the more mundane or not as immediately obvious work that has been done here.
I have been a part of this community for nearly the entirety of BN's run, since a friend directed me here when I was looking for ways to follow the first squad of Ben Ball Warriors early in 2006 as a first year law student in my then-new east coast home. I stayed as I saw the Bruins make their 1st, 2nd and 3rd Final Four, and when Karl Dorrell finally did get fired (and briefly thought that the worst was behind Bruin football). I eventually joined the front page and have helped lead this wonderful community, my presence in which won't end tonight. Good luck and my best wishes to the remaining front page crew in building the future of BN.
And as always...