Monday, April 03, 2006

Sports: Los Angeles abuzz with Bruin-mania!

With a stunning 59-45 upset of LSU, UCLA has clawed its way to the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game for the first time in eleven years!

I recall the 1980 UCLA team led by Larry Brown that had a stunning magic carpet ride through the tournament. It was said that Bruin team got into the NCAA as one of the last at-large bids. It went from upset to upset all the way into the final game. Alas, Louisville had just a little bit more left in the tank and won that game.

The following year, Brown's UCLA team flopped in the NCAA and he left to other pastures, eventually one of his many stops was at Kansas where he led them to a National Title. He was the third coach post-Wooden, each lasted a mere two years.

When I attend UCLA, the only championship banner was the 1985 NIT Championship. NCAA appearances were rare and brief.

From 1982-1994, Larry Farmer, Walt Hazzard and then Jim Herrick would coach the Bruins but never could quite climb the mountain.

In 1995, the number 1 ranked Bruins was within seconds of being eliminated in the second round. However, Edney drove the length of the court to hit the game winner. After that, the Bruins were never seriously threatened with a blowout win over Mississippi State, a high scoring track meet with Connecticut and a grinder game against Oklahoma State.

In the final game of that year against Arkansas, Edney started gamely but his injury from the Oklahoma State game sent him to the bench. Backup point guard Cameron Dollar came in and promptly had the ball stolen and the Bruins were behind. But Dollar regrouped and so did the Bruins. The Bruins raced to the lead and never gave it up and got to cut down the nets for the first time in 20 years!

Fast forward eleven years, the Bruins are back in the National Finals with a team nobody, well, almost nobody thought would get this far. 2.2 % of Yahoo! Fantasy Sports participants thought they would get this far.

As a fan who has followed this team all season I saw them struggle in some victories in the out of conference schedule and get beat by some marquee teams like Memphis and West Virginia. But the hopeful thing was the team never seemed to give up even when getting beaten. The team got better as the season went along. With the arrival of the NCAA, realistic fans were saying Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight. A rare few on sports radio were saying Final Four and National Championship. I tended to discount them because they were on the Bruins radio network!

Nonetheless, GO Bruins!

A solid performance at both ends of the court will be needed to even have a chance against the well balanced athletic Gators from Florida.


I've recently discovered

Below is a video clip of the Bruins cheering during the LSU game being led by Ed O'Bannon, one of the stars who led the 1995 championship team.

6:21 PM PDT. Florida. UCLA. National Championship.

Here's hoping that there will be some cheerful clips from the Florida game!


U - C - LLLLLLLLLLLLLL - A! UCLA Fight Fight Fight!


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