Saturday, April 01, 2006

UCLA vs. LSU: Game Day Stories

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

Underdog Image OK By UCLA: With an unprecedented 11 national championships, UCLA has the greatest tradition in college basketball.Nobody is better. But at the Final Four, the Bruins are almost an afterthought. They may rank first in national titles, but UCLA ranks fourth at this Final Four in national interest. The Tampa Tribune

Tradition guides Bruins toward for 12th national title: They are the Yankees in gym shorts. They are the Montreal Canadiens, Green Bay Packers and Boston Celtics.They are old money. An ancient monarchy. The anti-George Mason.You want college basketball tradition in spades, never mind Duke?UCLA has more national championships than the entire Atlantic Coast Conference. Eleven. Maybe 12 by midnight Monday. Gannett News Service

LSU’s Davis unfazed by UCLA’s tradition: The presence of UCLA at the Final Four does not carry the mystique it did 30 years ago. At least not to those who weren’t even born then, such as the players on the three other teams in this Final Four. "Last time I checked, Bill Walton wasn’t playing. Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) wasn’t playing. Reggie Miller wasn’t playing," said Glen "Big Baby" Davis of Louisiana State, which plays UCLA in a semifinal tonight in the RCA Dome. "We can’t let that scare us. We can’t let that get to us. This is a different time." Columbus Dispatch

Tigers respect UCLA’s tradition: When it comes to college basketball, LSU and UCLA don’t have the same pedigree.UCLA is old money. LSU is a guy who makes a fortune in the stock market and blows it the next day. The Advocate Louisiana

UCLA coach soaring after start at NAU: Whenever hotshot, hoity-toity, million-dollar contract man Ben Howland needs a reality check, his thoughts turn to Flagstaff."NAU. 1994. I signed a very lucrative one-year contract... for $60,000. Non-renewable. And I jumped at the opportunity." Arizona Republic

UCLA eyes banner year: At Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus, they take interior decorating seriously. Hanging from the rafters — in navy blue with gold lettering — are the 11 national basketball championship banners. There are no banners commemorating Pac-10 championships, NCAA Tournament appearances or reaching the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. The letters N.I.T. are borderline blasphemy. Houston Chronicle

Bruins give Canadian a whirl at the big dance: Mississauga's Ryan Wright likely won't have any impact on the NCAA Final Four semifinals here tonight, but if the UCLA Bruins need him, at least he'll be ready. Toronto Star

LSU lays it on thick and thin: At 7 feet tall, 225 pounds and able to run the floor like a gazelle, UCLA senior center Ryan Hollins knows of what he speaks when it comes to athleticism. Tyrus Thomas and Glen "Big Baby" Davis have helped lift LSU into the Final Four. Yet even he seemingly couldn't come up with enough superlatives to describe LSU forwards Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Tyrus Thomas, each of whom he'll have a hand in trying to stop in the teams' national semifinal matchup tonight at the RCA Dome. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Bruins, Tigers aren’t afraid to mix it up: Baby blue is their color. Black and blue is their attitude. At some point early in coach Ben Howland’s tenure on the Left Coast, the UCLA Bruins woke up and realized they looked more like bruisers than a bunch of SoCal softies. Their opponent in tonight’s national semifinal, LSU, takes much the same approach to basketball -- preaching defense first, then letting the rest take care of itself. MetroWest Daily News

UCLA, LSU majoring in bruisology: One team is Hollywood cool and relaxed. The other, Southern charming and disarming.
Don't let the stereotypes fool you. UCLA and LSU banged their way to the Final Four. And they're convinced that's the only way to stay here until Monday night. That likely makes their NCAA tournament national semifinal tonight one only a grinder will appreciate. It might not be pretty, but it promises to be pugnacious. Times Herald Record

UCLA not just 'happy to be here': Here at the Final Four, there is no consolation prize available to UCLA, nothing for merely approaching the bar that John Wooden set impossibly out of reach. The Bruins have won 11 NCAA championships — 10 when Wooden was their coach — and only banners commemorating national titles are considered worthy of display back home in Pauley Pavilion. Austin-American Statesman

LSU basketball: Davis says just win, baby: LSU is in the Final Four for the first time in 20 years, anxiously awaiting tonight's tip off against UCLA in the national semifinals. And it could get ugly. The Tigers wouldn't have it any other way. And UCLA would probably second the motion. The Bruins (31-6) have a hot-shooting and athletic backcourt. Lake Charles Louisiana

Inside battle to determine whether LSU, UCLA move on: LSU vs. UCLA, on the inside, looks like the wide load and the jumping jack have a big advantage over the bruised knee and the broken nose.The wide load is LSU's 6-9, 310-pound sophomore forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis.The jumping jack is LSU's 6-9, 215-pound freshman forward Tyrus Thomas.Together, they average 31.3 points and 19.1 rebounds a game. The bruised knee is UCLA's 7-0½, 230-pound senior center Ryan Hollins, who banged his right knee in practice Friday morning and skipped the afternoon shoot-around. USA Today

LSU Tigers face a storied UCLA: Even here, in the capital of Indiana, the UCLA tradition is omnipresent.While the other three schools that qualified for Saturday night's national semifinals at the RCA Dome devised entertainment for their players Thursday night, Ben Howland took his youngsters to Conseco Fieldhouse so they might witness another chapter in Bruins lore. There, a capacity crowd of Hoosiers cheered as the Pacers retired Reggie Miller's NBA uniform number. Newsday

A Tradition Lacking Swagger: UCLA used to be the most intimidating letters in college basketball. Under legendary coach John Wooden, the Bruins captured 10 national championships in 11 years, won 88 consecutive games, the longest winning streak in NCAA history, and had four undefeated seasons.But since Wooden retired in 1975 after 27 seasons as the Bruins' coach, those four letters haven't meant as much in college basketball. Washington Post

Meet the Temples First family of LSU: Garrett Temple considered several schools while he was being recruited. Oregon got a serious look. Baylor and Stanford were in the running, too. In the end, Temple went with LSU. Naturally. Mercury News

The big story is the line movement in the LSU-UCLA matchup: For gamblers, the biggest story might be the equally surprising point-spread move in Saturday's game between UCLA and LSU. UCLA, a No. 2 seed coming off a mild upset against top-seeded Memphis, opened as a 1 1/2-point favorite against fourth-seeded LSU at Pinnacle, a major offshore sports book, before the game hit the boards as a pick 'em at most Las Vegas casinos. Since then, gamblers have been backing LSU with their money as if they had access to this coming Sunday's newspaper. The Tigers have been bet up to as high as a 2 1/2-point favorite in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Sun



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