Some Relief and Hope

UCLA beats Georgetown, 71-70, on some last-second free throws by Cedric Bozeman. It was a win that wasn't pretty, and really doesn't mean that much for the season, but it was a win that provided flashes of hope for the future...

It would have been too much to have to take if Cedric Bozeman missed those two free throws. It just would have been too much to watch Bozeman have to get over missing them.  Making them and winning the game for UCLA hopefully will do good things for his confidence and continue to help him improve.


As for the team, it's pretty much the same. Every win hopefully helps the younger players gain confidence and improve.


As for the season, the game really doesn't have much effect.  UCLA could conceivably save some face if it turned it around the remainder of the season, but a good portion of the face probably can't be saved.  With 14 losses, for UCLA to salvage a winning season, it would have to win its remaining Pac-10 games just to finish the regular season at 13-14, and then it would have to win the Pac-10 tournament to finish with a winning record (If it just went to the Pac-10 tourney final, it would finish the season 15-15, with no chance at post-season play).  Really the only other scenario to save some portion of the season's face is to have a decent showing the remainder of the second half of the Pac-10 season, make the Pac-10 tournament, win the Pac-10 tournament, get the automatic NCAA bid and play at that magical level in the NCAA tournament and get some wins. Even if it did that, it could still very well have a losing season, but it would, at least, not make this season near as ugly and, again, give the younger players some confidence to build on.


The Georgetown game, though, was what this team – and its players – needed. It needed a win to restore confidence.  Heading into the teeth of the toughest part of its schedule, it was a potential oasis of good feelings. 


So, really, we should not make too much of the fact that Georgetown was pretty darn bad.  They were especially bad since their star, baseline forward Michael Sweetney, only played 21 minutes due to foul trouble. They played poorly, were poorly coached, and just not very good.  And we'll just mention quickly that the game was pretty ugly, with both teams playing very bad defensively, at times the game looking the most like a pick-up game you'll ever see on the college level.


And you have to give some props to those Pac-10 refs.  The agreement was that the Big East refs came out to Pauley Pavilion last year to work last year's Georgetown/UCLA game, and that Pac-10 refs would work the game today at Georgetown. I'm sure Sweetney recognized a marked difference in the way Pac-10 refs call a game compared to the Big East. And a couple other calls were definitely pro-Pac-10.


But really, if you're a UCLA fan you don't want to talk about the game, or the season, but just the signs of the future. You want to talk about the fact that Bozeman might get some confidence from winning the game with his last-second free-throws. How good Bozeman looks when he slashes to the basket and how physically dominating he can be when matched with smaller guards. You want to talk about how much potential Ryan Hollins has. He can right now be effective merely because of his athleticism, and it's promising to think how good he might eventually be once he learns how to actually play in the post and gets bigger and stronger.  You have to give some credit to Ryan Walcott, for hitting a very big three-pointer down the stretch, and you like to imagine him a year from now, better and better coached, and able to give the team more solid back-up point guard minutes.  You like to see Andre Patterson patrolling the paint like he did, getting 8 points and seven rebounds, and you think about what he might be like with another year of development and coaching.   


Hopefully this will start the team on a bit of a roll, and give them the confidence to pull out some wins the remainder of the season, and give the young Bruins more to build on for the future.

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