UCLA Basketball: Howland's Menu Is Supersized But Can Bruins Fill The Big Plate Without Shabazz Muhammad?
The UCLA Bruins officially opened their men’s college basketball season with a plethora of issues, concerns and lofty expectations.
From 1965 through 1975, the then new Pauley Pavilion men’s basketball home record was 149 wins and 2 losses, over the ten year span. After their win over Indiana State in the debut of the newly-renovated Pauley Pavilion they're now just 1-0.
The UCLA men’s basketball team has a big plate of expectations pinned on their highly rated and controversial freshmen class. Head Coach Ben Howland wanted to smoothly blend this new group of freshmen in with returning players, hoping to find new life. The expectations from Bruin fans, the media and others have historical and lofty Final Four aspirations . . . destination a NCAA championship title. However, Shabazz Muhammad's ineligibilty has put a serious damper on the Bruins parade.
Leaving all the baggage, speculation, accusations and injuries aside, the Bruins have the physical talent to challenge any team in the nation and depth at every position.
Have you ever been on a beach and watched the Tide roll in? The change in water level is caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth. The water is calm. Then suddenly the tide moves in. It’s a gradual, even unassuming, event. The next thing you know, you look up and there is a violent wave of water crashing down on the sandy beach, imposing its will on the shoreline. It’s unforgiving and relentless.
Last Saturday night in Death Valley, Baton Rouge, the sun and moon and the gravitational forces began to shift with just over a minute to go on the game clock. The Tide had been calm and steady and unassuming for most of the game. Then suddenly, without notice, the Tide came crashing down on the turf of Tiger Stadium. AJ McCarron led the Tide down the field with no timeouts. A game winning touchdown silenced the crowd at Death Valley. The Tigers gave way to High Tide. They had to. They’re unforgiving and relentless.
So now this week, the Texas A&M Aggies get to try their hand at pushing back the Tide. Good luck.
The LSU Tigers had scratched and clawed their way back to number five in the BCS polls. Their defense was as stingy as any defense in college football. Their offense was beginning to figure it out. They had everything in front of them: a shot at the SEC title and a possible date in the National Championship game. They had a date with the number one team in the country on prime time television, at night, in Death Valley. There was just over a minute, the Tide were down and backed up in their own territory with no timeouts. LSU was on its way. Things were looking up for the Tigers.
The Tide had other plans. A late minute Heismanesque drive by up-to-that-point-in-the-game struggling QB, AJ McCarron on national TV to put the Tide ahead silenced Death Valley. And it wasn’t just deafening, it was spine-chillingly silent. But that’s what Alabama does. They’re dream killers.
One year removed from its first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits head into the 2012-13 campaign as the heavy favorites to repeat as Summit League champions.
Last season saw the Jacks run the table in the conference tournament en route to their game against the 3-seed Baylor Bears in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While many expected the Bears to dominate the entire game, SDSU gave fans a treat by holding the high-powered Baylor offensive attack to 68 points in their 68-60 loss in the second round of the tournament.
Not only did SDSU jump out to an early lead on Baylor, they had the opportunity to cut it to a one-point game with under a minute remaining in regulation. That Brayden Carlson missed three-point shot led to the Bears hitting clutch free throws to close out the game.
Now, the Jacks are heavily favored to return to the big dance and, quite possibly, make some noise against the higher seeds. The Summit League essentially ranks SDSU and then everybody else.
Yesterday was October 14th, 2012. In past yesterdays, October 14th, was the beginning of the NCAA Division I men’s collegiate basketball season commencing with picture day for UCLA. It was also Coach John Robert Wooden’s birth-date, each year on this day of his coaching career he made wishes and prayers before blowing out candles on his cakes. His life represented prayers and wishes that came true. Coach Wooden was born on October 14th, 1910 and completed his earthly assignment at the age of 99 years old. He was a man who hated to be called a wizard and, he told everyone who asked him about the Westwood nickname that he did not like it. Those who loved him and were close to him miss him but, celebrated and remembered the memories and great treasures he imparted into his family, his players, college basketball, UCLA, and America.