Tag:Darren Collison
Posted on: March 24, 2008 5:16 pm

The Demise of UCLA?

C'mon. Let's take a step back. Whatever. Call the block/foul bogus, UCLA is still dancing. Their demise? Greatly exaggerated.

From here on in, let's cede the Bruins a little benefit as far as doubt is concerned with respect to the Texas A&M outcome.

Despite any of the officiating in the game, it wasn't a fluke or an accident that UCLA came back from 10 down on Texas A&M, who by the way, put up one hell of a fight. Seeing this team come up clutch over the last three years, you have to refuse to throw in the towel on them until the buzzer sounds. But the Aggies had this game. I honestly thought that the 9 seed (who played on a level far beyond it) was in total control and on the way to the Sweet 16.

Silly me.

And silly media.

This team has comeback on several opponents this year, but the media's attention is on the late games in conference play and not the entire body of work. Fair enough, but walk-through this with me:

2007-2008 Thrillers
11/20/07: Down 36-25 at the half after being physically and literally dominated by Michigan State, UCLA wins a pre-season tourney over the Sweet 16 bound Spartans.

12/2/07: Getting their sorry hats handed to them by a superior Texas squad by 16 points, the Bruins come all the way back only to lose to the Longhorns on a last second Damion James dunk.

12/8/07: Less than a week later UCLA covers an 18 point deficit and goes on to blast another Sweet 16 sweetheart in Davidson 75-63. A 30 point swing.

2/23/08: Down 11 in the second half, UCLA comes back and then jumps all over a NCAA tournament team in Oregon, besting the Ducks by 10.

These guys are tough and are being lambasted as lucky and even cheaters. Not entirely fair.

Ben Howland does not let his teams quit. The brand of defense he has instilled (a defense that held their first two opponents to an average 39 ppg) is the sort of thing championships are made of. The guy turned Ryan Hollins from a stiff into a solid shot-blocking machine and 2006 West Region MVP. They haven't yet played their monstrous trap defense this tournament though it is still practiced. Their coach is the force that propels this team from first-half somnambulance and their D is the reason vaunted opponent's shooting percentage plummets while turnovers multiply.

I shouldn't bring up a 17-point comeback vs. Gonzaga in tourney play 2 years ago or the fact that UCLA has defeated both Memphis and Kansas (respectively) en route to their two most recent Final Four's. I won't cite controversial regular season-closing wins over Stanford & Cal.

I did because pundits are now and will continue to harp on West Virginia's two wins over UCLA in as many seasons as evidence they will pull off a third this year (should they meet). Blah blah UCLA came from 20 down in the 1st and only lost by 4 in the closing plays and yada yada played without Darren Collison in the second ... etc. etc.

Let's not count them out. They're a legit #1 and are most definitely for real.
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