Some Dignity

On senior day Saturday, it was a day of bittersweetness for outgoing seniors Ray Young and Jason Kapono. And the script played out well with a win over Washington -- luckily, since it almost felt like Pauley Pavilion's pillars couldn't take any more ugliness...

It was definitely a very special senior day at Pauley Pavilion Saturday.

 

Usually, on senior day, there is additional emotion. It's bittersweet to say goodbye to the outgoing seniors.

 

This year saying goodbye to Ray Young and Jason Kapono generates even more bittersweet emotion.  Saying goodbye to Young and Kapono, your heart swells for them – and for yourself as a Bruin fan.  There is the additional emotion of – what could have been.   There is the added feeling of support for them, having been a UCLA basketball player at probably the most inopportune time in the history of the school.  Young and Kapono will always be especially endearing because of this. They're like two warriors who have fallen on their sword for the empire.  They will always hold the heart of Bruin fans in whatever they attempt to do. There aren't two UCLA basketball players you want to see have more success in the pros than Young and Kapono.  After what they've been through, they deserve it. They deserve something.

 

For this reason alone, it was a beautiful thing to see UCLA beat Washington Saturday, 83-72.   Both Young and Kapono had the types of games you were glad to see them have on senior day, both scoring 20 points and getting some key plays in the win.  To see the smile on Kapono's face after he threw in a hook shot from the middle of the key, or see Young pumping his fist after a rebound tip-in off a free throw – you could see the emotion being released from the two seniors.  It felt good to see them get some satisfaction.

 

Given the circumstances, the script was actually written about as well as you could expect.  Young and Kapono have some triumph in their final game in Pauley Pavilion. The fans mob them (well, a bit), and they get a win in their final game in front of John Wooden. 

 

If they have to endure their final game as another 30-point blow-out against Arizona in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, then fine. At least it wasn't in Pauley Pavilion.

 

It was a good script, because it actually had a little dignity, in a story recently that has had very little. With the team winning its final game of the season, it kept the boo birds away.  It also generated some good energy, which also helped to refute the ridiculous and perplexing non-story that has been running in the Los Angeles Times this week about fan support. And it worked as the least ugly send-off of Steve Lavin, in his last game at Pauley Pavilion, which, at this point, is good. It almost feels like the pillars that make up the foundation of Pauley Pavilion can't take much more ugliness.

 

It would be an even better ending to this absurdist script if UCLA played well against Arizona on Thursday in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament.  You can hope for a win, but more realistically,  possibly just that the Bruins play the Wildcats tough and avert a similar blow-out to the two they've suffered this year against Arizona.

 

After Young, Kapono, the young Bruin players and Bruin fans salvaged a little dignity Saturday, we want to see this season end with just a little more.


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