Saturday, 24 March 2007

UCLA making a return trip to the Final Four!

First, w00t woot!!

In many wins, it wasn't a pretty win, because both teams were a little sloppy at times with the ball. However the Bruins wouldn't have it any other way, dominating the game with defense and timely shooting, and doing enough to beat a fantastic Kansas team. It was clear that no matter how deep and talented Kansas is, UCLA was the better team on Saturday.

The star of the game was Pac-10 Player of the Year Arron Afflalo, who had been in a shooting slump. He was 10-15 from the field (3-7 from downtown) for 24 points, but that doesn't even tell the whole story. At least twice he had the killer "end of shot clock" 3s... the kind where it looks like a guy is just trying to throw a desperation shot up... and then it went in. Those are spirit-breakers.

Meanwhile, Darren Collison did what he always does... he was 4/8 from the field, 2/3 from downtown, 4/4 from the line, and applied constant defensive pressure. Jay Bilas said something about how Collsion has "been every bit as good as Farmar." Well, that's a little off. Collison has been better than Farmar was. He's more efficient offensively, and he's a lot better defensively. Of course, Collison is better defensively than just about everyone.

Other kudos include to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who was very active on both ends of the floor. Then there's Josh Shipp, especially for that big 3 at the end of the half. I thought Russell Westbrook came in and brought a good spark defensively. Aboya was active on the defensive end. It was a total team effort, especially defensively.

For Kansas, take nothing away from there, because I really think they are one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the country. Mario Chalmers was everywhere defensively. Brandon Rush played a really nice game, and Julian Wright is one of the best multi-skilled players in the country. I have a feeling they'll be back next year, once again playing to get to the Final Four. Heck, even if they lose 1 or 2 guys early, they're still good enough to get back.

So in the end, it was the experience, defensive tenacity, and timely shooting that gets UCLA back to the Final Four. What a game. Now they'll just await for the winner of Florida and Oregon, and knowing UCLA and Ben Howland, they're probably hoping for revenge against Florida.