Saturday, March 25, 2006

UCLA vs. Memphis: Game Day Stories

By Bruin Basketball Report

Stories from outside the L.A. Writer's Beat Beltway

Bruins follow sophomore leader: Like any good leader, Bruins point guard Jordan Farmar deflects praise from himself to others.Replays indicated that he - and not teammate Cedric Bozeman - knocked the ball from Gonzaga's JP Batista, then passed to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for the game-winning basket Thursday night in UCLA's 73-71 victory in the Oakland Regional semifinals. Video evidence to the contrary, Farmar refused to accept the role of hero."We were both trapping him and swiping for the ball," Farmar said. "I think Cedric knocked it loose. I picked it up. I found Luc under the basket. "Once and for all." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Mbah a Moute Kicks Boute: To this day, the story still lights the face of UCLA freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. And how could it not? Life was good back then. He loved soccer. His family. And eating boa constrictors. Dad was the chief of the local village in Cameroon, and he was one of the princes. Everything made sense -- that is, until his brother started coming home from school, bragging about this new game he had learned. Basketball. Sports Illustrated

Memphis should be fresher than UCLA: Although UCLA's players claimed they will be fresh for today's game against Memphis, they admitted the 73-71, comeback win over Gonzaga in Thursday's late game was draining emotionally and physically. Memphis, meanwhile, should be rested. None of its players averages more than 27.3 minutes a game in the tournament, and all three of their games have been decided well before the final buzzer. San Francisco Chronicle

Season of maturity put to test: Even before the NCAA Tournament's Oakland Regional began, there were plenty of ways to illustrate how UCLA had changed since its 88-80 loss to Memphis in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Nov. 23. Now that the Bruins are playing the Tigers in today's Elite Eight matchup at the Oakland Arena there is one more significant way they have changed. UCLA is coming off one of the most inspirational victories in school history -- a history, mind you, that is full of such things. Contra-Costa Times

Memphis, UCLA take separate roads to final: Memphis won each of its first three NCAA tournament games by 16 points, while UCLA had a much tougher time reaching the regional final. The top-seeded Tigers played the early semifinal game and got to bed early. The Bruins rallied late for a thrilling 73-71 victory over Gonzaga and struggled to sleep at all until exhaustion finally did the trick.Everything points to Memphis having the upper hand when these teams meet for the second time this season with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Not so fast. Both sides know better. Sun Herald

Out of the way, UCLA: It came from the garbage. Shawne Williams will tell you this with great pride when he talks about the first time he wore a University of Memphis jersey. He didn't have money to buy his own. The NCAA frowns upon amateurs accepting gifts. So as a teenager, Williams' only way of getting a UofM jersey was to scrounge around and make the best of what he could find. But he knew where to look. Memphis Online

Bozeman plays many roles for Bruins – all crucial : The darkness couldn't lull him to sleep or expel the pain. It couldn't stop his shoulder and knee and ankle from throbbing any more than it could prevent all the memories from rushing back again. So he just lay there Thursday evening, the seconds and minutes and hours ticking away, unable even to entertain himself by switching on the television. UCLA senior Cedric Bozeman is comfortable not being the team's center of attention. “Arron (Afflalo) is my roommate and he was sound asleep,” said Cedric Bozeman. “I didn't want to disturb him, you know, out of respect.” Union Tribune

Carney's game taking long way back to Indy: Yeah, as if this happens a lot. High school basketball coach from Indianapolis who played on a national championship team at Indiana under Bob Knight frowns on his players participating with traveling AAU summer teams. His star player isn't heavily recruited. It's December of his senior year and there are no scholarship offers. He's not listed among the nation's top 250 prospects. Union Tribune

Memphis' Carney rises from obscurity to stardom: Ben Howland admitted Friday that as Pittsburgh's coach four years ago, he was unaware of an Indianapolis high school player named Rodney Carney. Howland was not alone. Only a handful of college recruiters had ever heard of Carney, much less seen him play. Howland, who is now UCLA's coach, went so far as to joke that his Memphis counterpart, John Calipari, must have had Carney "tucked away somewhere, a secret recruit." Mercury News

UCLA sees shades of Wooden: One day after beating Gonzaga, the UCLA Bruins couldn't believe they were still standing. If you closed your eyes to their credentials and listened to their words, you would swear the Bruins were Cinderella trying on the glass sneaker for size. But this is a 30-win team from a program that once dominated college basketball, churning out championship after championship under former coach John Wooden. Houston Chronicle

UCLA, Memphis receive rematch: Memphis is taking little comfort knowing it already has beaten UCLA.`Everybody knows it's hard to beat a team twice,'' Memphis forward Shawne Williams said Thursday after the Tigers' 80-64 victory over Bradley. Memphis plays UCLA on Saturday in the regional final. Mercury News

Young Memphis, UCLA Teams Make Strides: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was a nervous freshman playing his first college game away from Pauley Pavilion. John Calipari's crew had yet to discover its chemistry. Even though Memphis and UCLA met once already this season, it was so long ago there's not much either side can glean from that November game as they prepare to play again Saturday with a trip to the Final Four at stake. Star Tribune

Memphis wins by just doin' what comes naturally: John Calipari is funny this way. He doesn't want his Memphis basketball players watching much film of opponents. He doesn't want them getting caught up in strengths and weaknesses and tendencies. He doesn't want them worrying about anything but themselves. “I tell them to just go out and (play) ball,” said Calipari. “I watch (other teams) and get sick to my stomach, thinking, 'Oh, gosh.' I tell the kids to forget about it. Just (play) ball. Worry about us and what we have to do. This team is chasing greatness. We're still on that path.” Union-Tribune

Calipari turns to JC coach for help: Memphis coach John Calipari has led a team to the Final Four, coached in the NBA and learned his trade working under Larry Brown. So it might seem kind of surprising that Calipari turned to a junior college coach to retool his offense. Fresno City College coach Vance Walberg went to Memphis to learn from Calipari a couple of years ago, when Calipari asked Walberg about his offense. Star-Telegram

UCLA hopes fate on its side: UCLA has a quasi-home-court advantage and perhaps a little magic in its pocket.Memphis? It will have to settle for freakish athleticism, depth, fresh legs and its No. 1 seed. "Memphis is the most athletic team in the country," UCLA coach Ben Howland said Friday, looking ahead to today's Oakland Regional final at Oakland Arena. IndyStar

Keating backing Bruins: Work prevented Larry Keating from joining his wife and two daughters today in the Oakland (Calif.) Arena stands. That’s OK, says Keating, Kansas University’s senior associate athletic director who is confident his son’s No. 2-seeded UCLA Bruins will defeat No. 1-seed Memphis in a 6:05 p.m. Elite Eight battle and advance to next week’s Final Four in Indianapolis. Lawrence-Journal World



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