Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sports: UCLA 73 Gonzaga 71

Did you see that?


I've seen my share of basketball games and this has got to be one of the wildest finishes I've ever seen.

9 times out of 10, the comeback comes up short and you say, they had heart to fight their way back.

Tonight, the gutty little Bruins were left for dead and somehow found a way to get back into the game and then, incredibly, to win it.

It was a team effort.

In post-game Bruin talk, fans often complain about Howland's substitution pattern. Sometimes, it seems guys are going in and out like airplanes at LAX. Aboya, Mata and Roll's numbers: 8 points in 26 minutes. Not impressive numbers but their job is to give the big six some rest so they will have some spring in their step for a frantic finish.

Collison gives them some extra speed on the court and his fearlessness in taking the ball to the hoop may not always get points but it shakes up the dynamics of the game.

Hollins, who started off the season either on the bench or injured, came on strong in the second half of the season gives the Bruins a seven footer in the middle for rebounding, shot-blocking/altering and tonight, 12 points, none more crucial than those two pressure packed free throws late.

Afflalo had a tough night running all over the place guarding (chasing) Morrison and picking up four fouls limited his time on the floor. Yet, he hit a couple of big threes and in the end, he still shared with Farmar most points on the team with 15.

On the go ahead sequence, it was team work, defense and never say die heart: Bozeman knocks the ball loose to Farmar who passed to a Moute for the go ahead lay up!

a Moute has been a pleasant surprise. His 10 rebounds were huge tonight. His final second steal helped seal the game. He started the season a wide-eyed freshman behind Shipp, Bozeman and Aboya on the depth chart for the forward spot. However, injuries to Shipp (season ending), Bozeman (mid-season) and Abboya (beginning of season) meant he had to play and he stepped up such that he won Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors.

Farmar is a fierce competitor. He has sprained both ankles this season and tonight he had a sore left wrist and sprained right thumb. He clearly was not 100% tonight but his heart of a lion leadership to take the big shot and to make the pass for the assist (he would end with six assists) was essential.

And then there is Cedric Bozeman. His box score isn't going to jump out as spectacular: 31 minutes, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 points and 1 steal. It was his defense that helped turn the tide. With Afflalo out, Bozeman covered Morrison and did a decent job. And of course, he will now be part of Bruin highlight reel history for "the steal."

It is really great to see Bozeman have the chance to play on. He came to UCLA a highly rated recruit and blew out his knee early in his first year at UCLA. He had to red-shirt another year late in his career at UCLA. This year he was out part of the season with an injured shoulder. He could have given up. Instead, he took up the mantle of the classic role player. Since the beginning of Pac-10 play, he has scored in double figures only twice. Yet, his contributions to the team are part of the reason the Bruins get to play at least one more game.

Can they beat Memphis?

My head says, no. Memphis has too many athletes and are well rested after their easy win over Bradley.

My heart says, yes.

Check out the various UCLA band songs.

The classic one is "Sons of Westwood."

For the school's 50th anniversary, a new fight song, "Mighty Bruins," entered the band play list courtesy of Academy Award winning composer Bill Conti.

U! C! LLLLLLLLL! A! U-C-L-A! Fight! Fight! Fight!


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