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UCLA Thoughts
2006-03-23 10:31
by Jon Weisman

I'm TiVoing the UCLA-Gonzaga game to watch late, but if anyone wants to chat about it, feel free to do so in this thread.

* * *

Hi. Wow.

Seventeen years ago, I saw the Cardinal come back from a 21-4 deficit to beat Sean Elliott, Kenny Lofton and Arizona, 82-74. Tonight, I saw a similar comeback, with an even greater finish: UCLA scoring the game's final 11 points and taking its first lead of the game with just seconds remaining to beat Gonzaga, 73-71.

For the first time all season, I watched a basketball game from start to finish (thanks to TiVo). With work and the kids, I save my big TV sports time for baseball season. But I just had a hunch about this game, and I never let go of it, even when UCLA fell behind 17-5, even when the Bruins trailed 37-20.

As it happens, watching the entire CBS broadcast in my offline cocoon would have been worth it just to see the end of the West Virginia-Texas game, in which the two teams traded game-winning three-point baskets in the final five seconds. But I have to say I found the finish to the UCLA game so exciting, I'm actually shaking - and UCLA's not even my school (though it's my mom's). I never root for with any passion for UCLA anymore until Stanford is out of the picture, and most of the past 10 years, the Cardinal's season has gone longer than the Bruins. But tonight, it was like I was a kid again, living and dying with UCLA the way I did in the 1970s.

The first college basketball game I can remember was John Wooden's last - the 10th title victory - and when my Dad told me he was being replaced by a man named Gene Bartow, I pictured the oddity of the only Gene I knew at the time - Gene Rayburn of Match Game - guiding Marques Johnson in the coming years. But from 1975 until I left for Stanford in 1985, I lived and died with UCLA basketball, hoping I might get to experience a whole season like everyone else in Pauley Pavilion had. I watched them find Indiana an impossible foe to conquer in the 1976 Final Four, and could feel how strange a turn of events it was. I remember the shock as the countdown to a 100-game home winning streak was short-circuited at 98 with something like a 45-point performance against Oregon or Oregon State. I cried when they lost a second round tournament game under Bartow or Gary Cunningham to, I think, Idaho State. I remember big battles with Ray Meyer and Digger Phelps; I remember villainous Danny Ainge with some bitterness. The Bruins once mattered to me that much. So it was kind of a nostalgia trip to spend two hours with them mattering again, even if it wasn't quite as profound.

I mean this objectively, not as a cheerleader, and I certainly don't say it to brag, but rather to explain why I stuck around with this game when I could have fast-forwarded. I never thought UCLA was out of it tonight. I figured at some point the Bruins would realize they weren't Loyola Marymount and would stop shooting three-pointers five seconds into their possessions. As it turned out, it took point guard Jordan Farmar forever to get a clue. But as far as I can tell, this has been UCLA's story most of the season - both in football and basketball, oddly (although they played it to extremes tonight) - lousy first half, great second half. They never got down by 20, so they always had a chance.

I thought the waving off of Darren Collison's basket at 71-66, when he appeared to score while being fouled l might be the dagger - especially after Collison went away from the free throw line empty - if the Bruins couldn't make a stop on the next play. But they withstood it. They withstood it all.

Back when Gonzaga was a Cinderella, the Zags once took out Stanford in the second round, so I can't shed too many tears for them. But tears are being shed - and the first to do so was their All-American Adam Morrison, who was crying with three seconds left and the game still in doubt. I don't fault him for the emotion - I was just so surprised by it. Usually, players are wound so tightly and so full of faith, they don't let that kind of pain out until after the buzzer. And then, when the game was over, Morrison crumpled to the ground - and it was peculiar how long it took for someone to come to his side. I gather from the Times today that he has a love-him-or-hate-him personality, but I figured his teammates and coaches would be with him right away. May have just been one of those things; maybe someone found him the second the cameras cut away. (I read now from the Associated Press recap that UCLA's "(Ryan) Hollins and (Arron) Afflalo went to help up Morrison, who was spread on the floor at midcourt. (Gonzaga coach Mark) Few then came to hug the crying Morrison."

Morrison did give it his all. He may have gotten away with a pushoff or two, but he was a player. At one point, broadcaster Gus Johnson said Morrison had a "quiet" 24 points, and I was stunned at how inaccurate the statement was. After making sure his teammates could get involved in the scoring at the outset, every one of his points seemed meaningful - helping to bury the Bruins early and holding them off late. His four-point play after UCLA cut the 17-point Gonzaga lead to 46-40 was the play of the game until the finish.

But now Morrison is gone, J.J. Redick is gone, and the Bruins are still playing. Every one of the potential three remaining victories for UCLA will be gravy, but gravy is a fun incentive. I'll be rooting for them. (I can only hope that the Bruin fans will return the favor if Stanford's slide from March Madness can be reversed.)

Tomorrow, back to baseball.

Comments (139)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-03-23 16:26:55
1.   Vishal
i'm slightly torn. i think adam morrison is the most awesome ncaa player since sliced bread, but i also like ucla and hate to root against the non-stanford pac-10. but i guess it's a win-win, and if duke loses, a win-win-win. i bet it'll be a good, tight game though.

and yes, sliced bread won POTY in his time.

2006-03-23 16:37:09
2.   PennyJavy
Is XTRA Sports 570am broadcasting the game?
2006-03-23 16:40:18
3.   ToyCannon
Watching Duke/LSU and what do I hear but one of my favorite old Kinks songs playing in the background during an IBM commercial. Luckily I like the commercial so I won't mind hearing the song for the next year or so.

Go Gonzaga.

UCLA by 13

2006-03-23 16:52:23
4.   Im So Blue
2 Is XTRA Sports 570am broadcasting the game?

The game is on both 570 XTRA & 1540 KMPC.

2006-03-23 17:36:26
5.   Linkmeister
Review of a recent Ray Davies concert here:

2006-03-23 17:51:25
6.   Marty
I'm looking forward to seeing Morrison for the first time, though I guess I'm rooting for UCLA. Hard for me to say that.
2006-03-23 18:35:53
7.   Linkmeister
Well, LSU just blew my final four out the window.
2006-03-23 18:38:22
8.   Bob Timmermann
Since I had Texas winning that region, an LSU win is a good thing. Of course, that assumes Texas can still beat the Virginia Irridentists.

And then LSU.

Be prepared for a LOT of Katrina stories in the next two days.

2006-03-23 18:40:13
9.   Marty
Shaq is happy.
2006-03-23 18:40:16
10.   Barkin
Well, LSU just about won me my pool, since Im practically the only one who has them beating Duke and in the Final 4.

For UCLA-Gonzaga, its tough for me. I hate UCLA, with a passion, but I also have them advancing to the final game. I guess, I'll root for the Bruins, because I want the PAC-10 to do well, and I want to win my pool. As long as they dont win it all, Its setting up to be a good weekend for me.

2006-03-23 18:40:50
11.   Vishal
irredentist is spelled with an e, bob. trust me, i was a geography major. :)
2006-03-23 18:41:05
12.   Uncle Miltie
I'm really glad I had Duke losing even though I had them beating LSU. I did have Duke losing to Texas in the next round though. JJ Redick has been exposed. Like I've been saying all year, Redick will be a bench player in the pros.
2006-03-23 18:41:48
13.   Vishal
i really like wvu. i also really hate texas. go mountaineers!
2006-03-23 18:45:38
14.   Barkin
I just like the guy named Pittsnogle. Pittsnogle.


2006-03-23 18:46:42
15.   Steve
When Duke loses, everybody wins.
2006-03-23 18:47:33
16.   Bob Timmermann
I hate it when Google indexes people who can't spell!

Ruined the whole joke!

2006-03-23 18:48:13
17.   Vishal
[15] i agree wholeheartedly. i despise duke.
2006-03-23 18:48:59
18.   overkill94
This totally helps my bracket since I have Texas and UConn meeting in the finals, which is just about the only way I can win any of my brackets.
2006-03-23 18:52:41
19.   Steve
This is what comes of silly statements like "9 straight Sweet Sixteens equal John Wooden," like beating a bunch of 16 and 9 seeds is really a revolutionary event in the history of college basketball. I mean, it is for Tennessee, but I digress.
2006-03-23 18:53:23
20.   ToyCannon
Thanks for the link. I've seen the Kinks live more then any other band and the shows ranged from great to really sucks. Ray Davies was not having much fun in the early 70's but by the mid 70's he had turned a corner and was a dynamic front man once again. The album that "I'm not like everyone else" was on is called "Great Lost Kinks Album" and it is one of my favorites. All sorts of oddball songs.

Duke just killed me but in the end I was rooting for LSU.

2006-03-23 18:58:12
21.   ToyCannon
Just finished reading the SI article on Morrison. Watched him alot in the last two years and he is a bit frenetic but when you hear his story I guess you understand. Average type 1 diabetic dies 15 years before the the average person. Kind of changes how you go about living. I hope they didn't jinx him by putting him on the cover this week. Please don't pull a Redick.
2006-03-23 19:01:24
22.   trainwreck
I need West Virginia to win.

I need and want UCLA to win.

2006-03-23 19:23:56
23.   Barkin

I figure Texas has a better chance of beating LSU than WV, so go West Virgina.

2006-03-23 19:27:19
24.   Bob Timmermann
UCLA is trying the "make the free throws, but miss all the field goals" approach tonight.

Not an efficient way of scoring.

2006-03-23 19:32:52
25.   Bob Timmermann
Will UCLA have a field goal by the next TV timeout?
2006-03-23 19:33:29
26.   Vishal
2006-03-23 19:36:16
27.   Bob Timmermann
I'm referring to the 8 minute media timeout.
2006-03-23 19:37:49
28.   Uncle Miltie
2006-03-23 19:40:38
29.   Steve
The Oakland Bracket bestrides this tournament as a Colossus
2006-03-23 19:43:19
30.   Bob Timmermann
The timing of Saturday's regional finals and how they may affect me going out for dinner is rapidly becoming a moot point.
2006-03-23 19:45:41
31.   Steve
My favorite part is the 21 fouls in 11 minutes.
2006-03-23 19:47:26
32.   Andrew Shimmin
I don't watch too much college basketball, but this may be the ugliest game I've ever seen.
2006-03-23 19:47:49
33.   Bob Timmermann
UCLA is 3 for 19. They are now worse than JJ Redick!

He was 3 for 18.

2006-03-23 19:49:33
34.   Bob Timmermann
UCLA's goal as a team should be to best Duke's 18 for 65 performance.
2006-03-23 19:50:39
35.   Bob Timmermann
So how many times will Jon have hit fast forward on his TiVO by now?

Should we tell him to save him some valuable time out of his life?

2006-03-23 19:52:37
36.   Steve
32 -- A Gonzaga/UCLA game is no time to start watching college basketball.
2006-03-23 19:53:11
37.   Steve
Unless it's like the Preseason NIT or the Great Alaska Shootout
2006-03-23 19:54:24
38.   Bob Timmermann
Plaschke is pulling up his Sasha Cohen column and changing all the references in to Arron Afflalo or Jordan Farmar.
2006-03-23 19:58:30
39.   Bob Timmermann
Only one person in the Dodger Thoughts pool Top 50 picked LSU to make it to the regional final.

Our temporary leader is S. Grady with UCLA and Texas in the late games.

2006-03-23 20:03:35
40.   27indigo
Might want to try a little harder defending Batista, fellas.
2006-03-23 20:04:40
41.   27indigo
Well, they close the half down 13 and it looks like Farmar's finally remembered he can in fact penetrate into the lane.
2006-03-23 20:05:09
42.   Bob Timmermann
The alltime low in field goal shooting for a game in the NCAA tournament is by Springfield College. They shot 12.7% against Indiana in 1940. They were 8 for 63.
2006-03-23 20:05:40
43.   Barkin
This is a win-win situation.

If UCLA wins, My bracket continues to look better and better.

If UCLA loses...UCLA Loses!!!

I cant lose!!

2006-03-23 20:08:17
44.   Bob Timmermann
The "Lamanites" entry is tied for second and has both Texas and Gonzaga.
2006-03-23 20:09:18
45.   Steve
Huh...Lamanites. Not me.
2006-03-23 20:11:11
46.   Bob Timmermann
Lamanites' lead would be short-lived as it has Duke beating Ohio State in the final.
2006-03-23 20:39:06
47.   Barkin
The Fighting Pittsnogles take the lead.
2006-03-23 20:40:48
48.   Steve
No game involving Gonzaga or UCLA could ever really be over.
2006-03-23 20:44:41
49.   Marty
I pick basketball teams about as well as I pick horses. I have Gonzaga advancing, so I'm looking for a furious comeback in the last 5 minutes for UCLA.
2006-03-23 20:44:41
50.   Steve
Here's how that looked in print:

13:42 Gonzaga - Erroll Knight misses a free throw
13:42 UCLA - Personal foul on Darren Collison
13:50 Gonzaga - J.P. Batista misses a hook shot
14:03 Gonzaga - Jeremy Pargo misses a layup
14:03 UCLA - Michael Roll misses a layup
14:23 Gonzaga - Adam Morrison misses a jumper
14:44 Gonzaga - Jeremy Pargo misses a jumper
14:54 UCLA - Darren Collison misses a jumper

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-03-23 20:45:11
51.   Bob Timmermann
UCLA is down to just one timeout. But Howland uses them at such odd times anyway.

Those of us in L.A. won't see much of that Texas-Virginia Irredentists game.

2006-03-23 20:54:28
52.   Bob Timmermann
Texas is outrebounding W. Va 41-15.
2006-03-23 21:03:50
53.   Steve
Lost in the Pittsnogling is that West Virginia has a player named "Johannes"
2006-03-23 21:05:35
54.   Marty
Wow. That Texas finish was amazing.
2006-03-23 21:06:04
55.   Bob Timmermann
At least Johannes is from Germany.

Germany to West Virginia.

Now there's a cultural shift.

2006-03-23 21:06:40
56.   Bob Timmermann
And I live to bracket another day!
2006-03-23 21:06:50
57.   Steve
Meanwhile, UCLA/Gonzaga logs its 40th foul.
2006-03-23 21:07:09
58.   Barkin
Tough break for Pittsnogle.
2006-03-23 21:07:31
59.   Barkin
...and Johannes.
2006-03-23 21:07:51
60.   Steve
Apparently, we're only at 39.
2006-03-23 21:09:36
61.   Steve
Jeremy Pargo, David Collison, and Michael Fey must have missed today's pre-game memo.
2006-03-23 21:10:51
62.   Bob Timmermann
NCAA tournament record, most fouls both teams, one game:


35 for Iowa and 33 for Morehead State in 1956.

Iowa won.

2006-03-23 21:11:28
63.   Barkin
Bozeman travelled on that play.
2006-03-23 21:20:13
64.   Bob Timmermann
UCLA is 10% ahead of Duke's rate, so it will be a moral victory.

John Calipari must be watching this game with a big smile on his face. The only thing that would keep Memphis from losing Saturday is they have a stupid coach.

Game on!

2006-03-23 21:24:29
65.   Steve
It's just like being back home in the MWC. Good times.
2006-03-23 21:27:06
66.   Uncle Miltie
What is going on, I'm at the library!
2006-03-23 21:27:40
67.   Marty
I knew it. I take the dogs out for a walk and UCLA comes back. I'm rewinding it to see what happened.
2006-03-23 21:27:46
68.   Steve
I never thought I'd say that UCLA deserved to win any game, but there you go.
2006-03-23 21:28:08
69.   Andrew Shimmin
Ugly game, awesome ending.
2006-03-23 21:28:53
70.   Bob Timmermann
So this is what it's like when you're a fan of the big bad guy that somehow beats the spunky little guy in the big game.
2006-03-23 21:28:59
71.   dzzrtRatt
Jumpin' jiminy.
2006-03-23 21:29:57
72.   Bob Timmermann
Many turnovers by Gonzaga down the stretch.

UCLA outscores the Zags 11-0 to win it.

2006-03-23 21:30:17
73.   regfairfield
I don't know if the image of the photograph knelling by Morrison's crumpled corpse is hilarious or just wrong.
2006-03-23 21:30:44
74.   Steve
Gonzaga had something like a nine point lead and the double bonus with four minutes to go.
2006-03-23 21:31:18
75.   Barkin
The last hour or College basketball has been crazy.

When does baseball season start?

2006-03-23 21:32:10
76.   Steve
The best part of the game is that it ended just in time for The Office to start. Selah.
2006-03-23 21:33:08
77.   Bob Timmermann
3:13 71-63 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made Free Throw.
3:13 71-64 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made Free Throw.
2:50 71-64 Jordan Farmar missed Three Point Jumper.
2:50 71-64 Arron Afflalo Offensive Rebound.
2:46 Sean Mallon Steal. 71-64
2:22 Adam Morrison missed Two Point Jumper. 71-64
2:22 71-64 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute Defensive Rebound.
2:12 71-64 Jordan Farmar missed Two Point Layup.
2:12 71-64 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute Offensive Rebound.
2:09 71-66 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made Two Point Layup.
1:48 Gonzaga Full Timeout. 71-66
1:39 Derek Raivio missed Three Point Jumper. 71-66
1:39 J.P. Batista Offensive Rebound. 71-66
1:35 J.P. Batista missed Two Point Layup. 71-66
1:35 71-66 Darren Collison Defensive Rebound.
1:29 Foul on Jeremy Pargo 71-66
1:28 71-66 Darren Collison missed Free Throw.
1:28 Jeremy Pargo Defensive Rebound. 71-66
1:01 Adam Morrison missed Two Point Jumper. 71-66
1:01 71-66 UCLA Defensive Rebound.
0:52 71-68 Jordan Farmar made Two Point Jumper.
0:41 Gonzaga Full Timeout. 71-68
0:23 Adam Morrison missed Two Point Jumper. 71-68
0:23 71-68 UCLA Defensive Rebound.
0:20 Foul on J.P. Batista 71-68
0:20 71-69 Ryan Hollins made Free Throw.
0:20 71-70 Ryan Hollins made Free Throw.
0:10 71-72 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made Two Point Layup. Assisted by Jordan Farmar.
0:06 71-72 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute Steal.
0:04 Foul on Jeremy Pargo 71-72
0:02 71-72 Arron Afflalo missed Free Throw.
0:02 71-72 UCLA Defensive Rebound.
0:02 71-73 Arron Afflalo made Free Throw.
0:02 J.P. Batista missed Two Point Jumper. 71-73
2006-03-23 21:33:34
78.   Bob Timmermann
The Office is a repeat though.
2006-03-23 21:35:25
79.   Daniel Zappala
I was gone most of the night and got to watch just the last 4 minutes. I guess I didn't miss much in the first half, with UCLA shooting 20%.

Having been at the wrong end of the failed upset many times before, I feel bad for Gonzaga. UCLA's superior atheletes just took over the game at the end, even overcoming a bad call that I had never seen before (blocking while the player is in the air and the shot doesn't count?). You had the sense this was going to happen -- Gonzaga just wasn't making shots.

Nonetheless, when it comes to the tournament, I always root Pac-10 and am glad we have a team moving on.

2006-03-23 21:35:49
80.   Uncle Miltie
I don't understand how they get from here
0:20 71-70 Ryan Hollins made Free Throw.
to here
0:10 71-72 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made Two Point Layup. Assisted by Jordan Farmar.

I'm guessing that the Zags didn't get the ball past half court in 10 seconds.

2006-03-23 21:36:02
81.   Daniel Zappala
76 depends on your time zone
2006-03-23 21:36:56
82.   regfairfield
80 Batista had the ball stolen from him.
2006-03-23 21:37:22
83.   Daniel Zappala
80 UCLA stole the ball. Gonzaga had a man open and should have passed, but instead held the ball thinking a foul would come. Excellent defensive play and good coaching to tell the players not to foul until the ball came past half court.
2006-03-23 21:37:24
84.   Bob Timmermann

Farmar had a steal of Batista to set up Mbah a Moute's basket.

2006-03-23 21:39:45
85.   Uncle Miltie
Great win for UCLA. I had them beating Gonzaga, so this helps my brackets. Now I have to get back to work. I have a huge paper due before midnight that's worth 25 % of my grade.
2006-03-23 21:41:06
86.   D4P
Good night for my bracket. I have LSU meeting UCLA in the Final Four.
2006-03-23 21:42:00
87.   Bob Timmermann
I really wish UCLA-Memphis was the first game Saturday.

Stupid Duke! If they were still playing, they would get that one!

2006-03-23 21:45:46
88.   Bob Timmermann
Grady 1 by S. Grady is the leader in the pool.
2006-03-23 21:49:04
89.   Marty
I just watched the replay. Nice job by UCLA to overcome that horrible call to wave off a basket. What a great finish.
2006-03-23 21:50:23
90.   Marty
I guess Jon has something to fast forward to.
2006-03-23 21:53:19
91.   dzzrtRatt
How is Jon going to avoid finding out about this game? Is he in a spider hole?
2006-03-23 21:57:34
92.   Bob Timmermann
If you have your computer off and you're watching a DVD or putting your kids to bed, it's likely not that hard.

I've avoided whole Super Bowls.

2006-03-23 21:58:29
93.   oldbear
That was a serious choke job by Gonzaga. It almost looked like Morrison started crying before the game was even over. I dont think I've ever seen that. Maybe in junior high but not from grown men.

If UCLA had lost, I would have clinched my pool. Now I'll just root for Memphis to take them out.

2006-03-23 22:05:08
94.   Bob Timmermann
This UCLA alum has picked Memphis to win Saturday in the pool.
2006-03-23 22:11:22
95.   D4P
This Oregon alum has picked UCLA to win Saturday in my respective pool.
2006-03-23 22:42:46
96.   Jon Weisman
For perhaps the only time ever, get your UCLA Thoughts. A post about tonight's game is up top.
2006-03-23 22:51:07
97.   Steve
This Oregon alum has picked UCLA to win Saturday in my respective pool.

How the committee put a bracket together where this is not only not a foolish statement, but a perfectly reasonable and possibly even prescient one, will always be one of the great mysteries of the age.

2006-03-23 22:53:32
98.   trainwreck
I think I almost had a heart attack I was so excited.
2006-03-23 22:54:59
99.   Bob Timmermann
I always root for the other Pac-10 teams in the NCAA tournament. I even rooted for USC when they made it to the Regional Final.

UCLA's 98 game winning streak at Pauley was ended by Oregon who won 65-45. Oregon opened the following Pac-8 season at Pauley and won again!

My hands shook at the end of the game. I'm surprised I avoided typos. I doubt Saturday's game will be able to top tonight's..

2006-03-23 23:01:37
100.   Steve
Are you sure that's not government created robot nano-technology infection or Count Choculitis, Bob?
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2006-03-23 23:14:00
101.   Linkmeister
On March 26 of last year, after Arizona lost to Illinois in OT, I wrote:

How the hell do you blow a 15-point lead with 4:00 left in regulation?

Some Gonzaga fan/blogger is writing a similar sentence tonight.

2006-03-24 05:46:39
102.   Terry A
100 - Stop making stuff up, Steve. Clearly, Bob has spontaneous dental hydroplosion.

Or anal fissures. (Somebody has them.)

What has two thumbs and somehow -- completely on a whim -- put UCLA in the final four of his bracket? [b]This[/b] guy. Three of my final four are still alive. Only Northern Iowa has been felled. (Actually, it was North Carolina.)

(By the way, please tell me it's been duly noted here that the name of the big guy on The Office is Kevin Malone.)

2006-03-24 06:04:23
103.   Penarol1916
That was among the worst played exciting basketball games I've ever seen. This Oakland Regional is so weak it's ridiculous. Honestly, I think at least 10 of the other 12 teams in the Sweet 16 could have taken this regional without a problem, and I'm saying this as someone who needs UCLA to get to the Final Four and Villanova to not reach the championship game to clinch my office pool.
2006-03-24 07:01:31
104.   dagwich
I was so close to going 4 for 4 last night. Stupid Gonzaga -- that game was the key to my office bracket pool. King Kaufman has a nice write up today on the game at

I grew up about 15 minutes from UCLA in the 60s, and while I loved the early UCLA dynasty (Hazzard, Goodrich, etc) I grew to despise the arrogance of the later Alcindor and Walton crews. I rooted for USC just because they were underdogs. Living here in Durham I feel (sort of) the same way about the arrogance at Duke and UNC.

2006-03-24 07:04:22
105.   Sam DC
Wow indeed. Thanks for the great writeup, Jon. For a part-bruin who missed the game (not shown here plus working late), UCLA Thoughts was very welcome. No Michael Warren reference, though. I'm surprised.
2006-03-24 07:05:58
106.   Sam DC
Bowden Watch Wow, Soriano had this to say to the Wash Post yesterday: "'I'm disappointed, because I not like people to think I'm the bad guy,' Soriano said. 'If I'm the bad guy, it's okay that people think that. But now, I'm not a bad guy. They put me in a situation where I look like a bad guy, but everybody knows who put me in this situation.'"

Guess he really does want to be traded.

2006-03-24 07:16:24
107.   Sam DC
(he exploits the time-zone advantage and goes for the three . . .)

Hey Jon, I sent this piece to a friend of mine (if you're wondering who linked in from the pentagon, that's him), and got this response: "Wow, he's really great at that whole writing thing." Despite knowing how you casually shrug off praise, thought I'd pass the compliment along.

2006-03-24 08:14:40
108.   Jon Weisman
Me, casually shrug off praise? Apparently you haven't seen my No Compliment Is Too Small Wall.

Dodger Thoughts March Madness Leaders after 2 1/2 rounds, five days:

1. Grady 1 , S. Grady 610 points (25-7, 12-4, 3-1)

2. Smith 1 , A. Smith 570 points (25-7, 12-4, 2-2)
ToyCannon , J. Gurnee 570 points (25-7, 10-6, 3-1)

4 JamesFromOccupiedEurope , 560 points j. allen (22-10, 11-5, 3-1)
The Griddlers , B. Timmermann 560 points (22-10, 11-5, 3-1) 
WOLFPAC1 , C. HALLIBURTON 560 points (24-8, 10-6, 3-1)

I've moved from the back to a tie for 36th place at 510 points (19-13, 10-6, 3-1)

Seeds are tied for 7th place at 550 points (23-9, 10-6, 3-1)

2006-03-24 08:14:42
109.   Vishal
But as far as I can tell, this has been UCLA's story most of the season - both in football and basketball, oddly (although they played it to extremes tonight) - lousy first half, great second half.

that's something i was actually wondering about myself. how is it that ucla's sports teams suddenly have this boundless depth of heart? how did that happen??

also, does anyone want to tackle the topic of "heart", vague a notion as it is? i feel like, however you want to describe it, that guttiness, that sort of je ne sais quois, actually counts for something in basketball and football as opposed to baseball, which i think is probably because baseball is more individual, skill-oriented activity.

2006-03-24 08:17:21
110.   Marty
Remember, UCLA patented guttiness. They are always the gutty little Bruins to me.
2006-03-24 08:31:20
111.   Steve
109 -- This one can be chalked up to the "Every Basketball Game Has To Have A Winner" Theory
2006-03-24 08:34:04
112.   underdog
I'm surprised no one mentioned the atrocious officiating in that game (or maybe you did and I missed it). I'm never one to whine about that, and I honestly don't know if it ultimately affected the game one way or the other but I saw some awful calls. My favorite was the foul on UCLA in which he was called when it was actually the backboard that knocked the ball loose from the Gonzaga player. Then there was the no basket call when Collison drove up the lane, was fouled and made the shot. And so on. Both teams gutted through their own sloppiness and the effing ref'ing.

I felt a little sorry for Morrison, too, and appreciate his emotional style but thought he played a little out of control especially in the 2nd half. He was always looking to take the shot - as he should - but there were times he should have dished off or got into better position.

Btw, I invented a drinking game last night - "Take a swig every time Len Elmore says 'UCLA could not have played a worst first half'" - which by my count meant drunk before the finish.

2006-03-24 08:36:57
113.   Vishal
right, but usually in a game like that, the winner is the team who has been up by 15 points for almost the entire game. sure, gonzaga choked, but ucla definitely hung tough and didn't give up when they easily could have folded.
2006-03-24 09:17:25
114.   StevieK
110 - Yeah, I always take the sentimental approach too, but in the Lavin years I couldn't summon the energy to care too much. You gotta hand it to Howland, what a difference from 2 years ago. I live in Milwaukee and was in a bar (naturally) last night and was dang near dancing on the tables. Great friggin' game.
2006-03-24 09:20:10
115.   Sam DC
Giagantor update for Steve:

Apparently, he once hit a home run off Roger Clemens.

On UCLA Thoughts, am I remembering right that, when Howland got the job, he narrowly beat our Mark Few. (I missed the game last night if this was discussed or overdiscussed.)

2006-03-24 09:21:44
116.   Jon Weisman
112 - There were a couple bad calls I noticed but it never struck me as anything out of the ordinary. Every game has bad calls.

109, 113 - It's not that one sport has heart and the other doesn't. The problem with discussions of heart is when people decide it is entirely independent of what can be measured statistically.

One can say that UCLA played a heartless first half and a hearty second half. In the end, UCLA had some heart, and the final score and even individual statistics reflect fairly accurately how much heart they had in the game.

Baseball players have heart - it would be silly to think otherwise. It takes tremendous heart to even make it in this game - hours and hours of endless practice. A few have more heart than others, and so equally talented players with different amounts of heart will have different careers.

But it doesn't really change how you evaluate who's good and who isn't.

2006-03-24 09:29:34
117.   Bob Timmermann
I thought it was more a case that UCLA played better in the second half than they did in the first half. I don't see why it's so mystical. It just happens.

Why did Portland lose to the Lakers in Game 7 in 2000? They were up by 13 in the fourth quarter.

2006-03-24 09:32:10
118.   Jon Weisman
117 - I think, however facile a choice it may be, that a team has a choice when down 17 against a touch opponent - go through the motions (not necessarily give up) or proactively try to make a change. To that extent, UCLA showed something. But I agree - I don't think what happened last night was mystical.
2006-03-24 09:32:14
119.   Bob Timmermann
Spokane's Bill Plaschke:
2006-03-24 09:37:08
120.   Bob Timmermann
In retrospect, Mark Few shouldn't have let Russ Ortiz keep the ball when he left the game.
2006-03-24 09:37:17
121.   Jon Weisman
Congrats to Aaron Gleeman and Tyler Blezinski, bloggers featured prominently in a long article about sportswriting on the web at Sports Illustrated. You can go to for more details. Their publicity is well-earned.
2006-03-24 09:39:37
122.   Jon Weisman
119 - Wow, that's a choppy column. But at least he doesn't turn on the team. The point of his story was valid.
2006-03-24 09:43:02
123.   Vishal
i'm not suggesting baseball players don't have heart. but it seems to me that hitting or catching a baseball isn't something that you can just "turn on" really. i know this is going to turn into a clutch hitting debate, which i'd like to avoid, but it's not like you can just run harder down the floor(or field in football), or play more energetic defense, or run a set play or pattern a little more vigorously as you can in football or basketball, and feed off your teammates directly. it does happen to some degree in baseball (i've played enough to experience it), but i think it's less direct. just because we're rallying doesn't make it much easier for me to recognize and hit a curveball. or say on defense, if we need that final out and the ball isn't hit anywhere near me, what am i gonna do? it's not like i'm covering an opposing player. whereas if my team is coming back or losing a lead in basketball i can just play harder to some degree. i don't think i'm explaining myself well.
2006-03-24 09:45:50
124.   Bob Timmermann
In basketball and football, a team can drastically change its approach to the game if it is way behind. Basketball and football teams can switch to high risk-high reward types of offenses and defenses.

A baseball team that is behind pretty much just has to do the same things it did when the game was 0-0 with the exception of ditching one-run strategies. You just try to get on base and then get around to score.

2006-03-24 09:50:07
125.   Jon Weisman
123 - I don't really want to take this debate further either, but I would just say that even in baseball, two players with equal amounts of talent can respond to a difficult situation differently, and one person's response might elevate their performance.

Of course, by my previous argument, those players then don't really have equal amounts of talent.

Also, it takes some of what I would call heart to play at your best when it's 100 degrees out and your team is down by 10 runs. Again, though, this will be reflected in statistics to a great extent.

I guess I just think heart exists, but we don't need to worry about quantifying it separately.

2006-03-24 09:53:12
126.   bigcpa
Great to see some Bruin chatter here. I'm a UCLA hoops season ticket holder, and I'm still on a cloud. Would you believe the last time UCLA made the Elite 8 they had to come from 16 down to do it? UCLA only scored 25 in the first half that night. From the AP story...

"Cameron Dollar's 4-foot bank shot with 1.9 seconds left after he dribbled the length of the floor lifted UCLA past Iowa State 74-73 in overtime Thursday night."

2006-03-24 09:57:40
127.   Daniel Zappala
119 AAAGH! My eyes!

Having sworn off ever reading Plaschke again, I have to say that even an imitator causes an unpleasant reaction.

2006-03-24 10:00:07
128.   bigcpa
123 I am a clutch athiest in terms of baseball but I believe in basketball and football you do see true momentum shifts. 1) from the homecourt advantage that rattles the opposition and 2) because surges of physical effort can directly impact those game. You could argue Gagne throwing 101 mph against Bonds is an example of a baseball player elevating his game through sheer effort. But moreso in basketball/football- one team upping their effort 10% while the other team slacks 10% through frustration- you see genuine runs that aren't just random patterns. I would refer to these as "YOU GOTTA GET A T.O." moments.
2006-03-24 10:06:26
129.   Bob Timmermann
Bottom two lines of the official Gonzaga-UCLA boxscore:
Last FG-GON 2nd-05:12, UCLA 2nd-00:09.
Largest lead-GON by 17 1st-03:16, UCLA by 2 2nd-00:02.
2006-03-24 10:29:24
130.   Sam DC
128: "Well, we're down to the wire here. It looks like nobody is going to conclude that there is no God. After 60 minutes, it seems like we're going to OT w/both sides locked up believing that there is a God. Three seconds left. Two. Wait, flashing in from the left of the frame . . . What's that, it looks like, Oh My Word, bigcpa comes through -- at the last possible instant he determines that there is, in fact, no God. I've seen a lot of atheists in my time, but never one as clutch as that."
2006-03-24 10:37:25
131.   bigcpa
130 That was pretty good. It took me a while to see where that was going.

Maybe I should pace around LAX wearing one of those sandwich boards that says "THERE IS NO CLUTCH."

2006-03-24 11:20:26
132.   Vishal
[131] sure there is. i've got one on my pickup truck :)

i wonder what the etymology of "clutch" is. why do we call them clutch players instead of say... crucible players?


2006-03-24 11:31:24
133.   Bob Timmermann
I would assume that it came from the feeling that if a game "is in the clutch", it is close enough for either team to win. The game is in somebody's hands or in their clutch.

I'm speculating.

The older term is "pinch" which is how "pinch hitter" got started.

2006-03-24 11:40:29
134.   Vishal
that sort of makes sense. so it came as a reference to players who were able to perform "in the clutch", and that got shortened into an adjective, clutch.
2006-03-24 11:44:57
135.   Marty
So if the question is, is Erstad a clutch or a pinch hitter, I'd say definitely pinch.
2006-03-24 11:48:38
136.   Andrew Shimmin
128- I'd attribute Gagne's hitting 101 to SBC's juiced radar gun, which shows everybody as 3 MPH faster than they really are.
2006-03-24 11:53:52
137.   Marty
Geez, everything up there in Frisco is on the juice.
2006-03-24 11:56:51
138.   Uncle Miltie;_ylt=AjSiSEjvYgeuRkqajkFUWxs5nYcB?slug=ap-bluessale&prov=ap&type=lgns

Remember when he almost bought the Dodgers. I think he would have been worse than McCourt.

2006-03-24 12:38:46
139.   Andrew Shimmin
A dream lies dead here:

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