Tuesday, March 11, 2008

UCLA Looks To Improve On Last Pac-10 Tourney Appearance

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA will be the top seed for the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament starting on Wednesday at Staples Center. The Bruins captured their third consecutive Pac-10 regular season crown and 30th league title overall last week.

The 2007-08 Pac-10 conference season has been arguably the most competitive in league history. For the first time in conference history, nine teams finished regular season play with a winning record.

The Bruins play their first game of the tournament on Thursday at 2:30PM against the winner of the No.8 seed Washington versus No.9 seed California match-up. The Huskies and Bears face off on Wednesday night at 6:00PM.

Not knowing whether its first opponent will be Washington or California, UCLA Coach Ben Howland said his team would be more focused on itself and team execution in practices this week, especially on offense.

"We just played Cal, there’s a good chance we could play Cal again," Howland said. "I think (Washington forward) Jon Brockman is on crutches. That obviously is a factor in that game but I still think Washington, with or without Brockman, will play extremely tough and that will be a very hard game to call."

Howland felt the Bears did a good job offensively against the Bruins on Saturday, a game which UCLA pulled out in the final seconds on Josh Shipp's miraculous shot.

"They (Cal) added a few little wrinkles that if we played them again we would be aware of," Howland said. "Overall, I thought our hedges were decent. They did a few things differently to try and attack that differently."

With the winning team of each game playing the very next day in the Pac-10 tournament, Howland stressed the importance of taking one game at a time.

"We’re just trying to win on Thursday," Howland said. "If we win on Thursday, we’ll have 24 hours before we play again on Friday. I’m not planning anything differently, hoping to get to Saturday. We’re trying to get to Friday from Thursday’s game."

While Howland doesn't relish the idea of having to face a tough Pac-10 team three times in a season, he appreciates the importance of having a conference tournament at the end of the season.

"I like it and the publicity it receives," Howland said. "If you don’t have one, I think it hurts you as a league and I think it has hurt the Pac-10 in the past. I think it’s good for the conference and it makes money."

The Bruins were embarrassed last season in the Pac-10 tournament when they were upset in the second round by the eighth seed California Bears in an overtime game. This time around coaches and players all echoed the same mantra of the need to be prepared to play their best game from the opening tip-off of each game.

"Whoever we play is going to be very motivated to beat us," Howland said. "If we don’t show up ready to go, we’ll lose. That hasn’t changed since November. You have to be ready to play against everybody you’re competing against."

Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament Schedule

Wednesday, March 12

No. 8 Washington vs. No. 9 California, 6:00PM, FSN
No. 7 Arizona vs. No. 10 Oregon State, 8:30PM, FSN

Thursday, March 13

No. 4 USC vs. No. 5 Arizona State, 12:00N, FSN
No. 1 UCLA vs. winner of 8/9, 2:30PM, FSN
No. 3 Washington State vs. No. 6 Oregon, 6:00PM, FSN
No. 2 Stanford vs. winner of 7/10, 8:30PM, FSN

Friday, March 14

Semifinal #1, 6:00PM, FSN
Semifinal #2, 8:30PM, FSN

Saturday, March 15

Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament Championship, 3:00PM, CBS



At Mar 11, 2008, 7:08:00 PM, Anonymous Larry said...

Said it before, and will say it again. I could care less about the pac10 Tourney. In theory I like it (as it helps the lower rung teams), but this year the conf is so strong, that I think this can only hurt us. Fatigue, injury, etc. Sure I'll watch and hope our Bruins win, but that being said - would not be unhappy with a loss. We could use the rest time. Let's win the first (lock up the #1 seed in the Big Dance) and then let things happen as they may. Seems Coach is taking this approach too - rather than prepare for two diff teams, he's gonna place the focus on themselves - good!

At Mar 12, 2008, 5:32:00 AM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

I really dislike the tourny this year as the Bruins will more than likely not be as hungry to win it while other teams on the bubble will be fighting for their lives.
Problem is if you play light and lose, then you go into the Big Dance on a losing streak.
Guess we'll just have to go out and win this damn thing!


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