November 21, 2008
is a semi-daily mashup of last night's most important hoops action.
Some mornings, like its writer, it will lack for lucid thought.
Last night was not a good night if you're a fan of UCLA. Or a fan of USC. I suppose if you're a fan of USC, you're happy that UCLA lost, right? And vice versa? Life is all about the positives, people. The cloud in the silver lining. Something like that.
U ... C ... LLLLL ... somebody hit a freakin' free throw! A quick postgame glance at the UCLA-Michigan box score -- a game that Michigan won , if you hadn't heard -- reveals two teams with similar offensive acuity. Both teams shot pretty OK from two (Michigan: .434; UCLA: .420), and Michigan shot worse from three (.263) than did UCLA (.333). But UCLA missed six of their free throw chances (they were 5-11), and at the risk of boiling a complex game down to such a simplistic, raw measure, that was the difference in the game.
For the most part, this was a classic UCLA game -- slowly paced, defended tightly, and played almost entirely in the half court. The difference was not only UCLA's inability to score consistently on the interior (I believe someone named Kevin Love used to occupy that role) but in Michigan's composure. At least after one game, this year's Michigan team looks confident. They look dynamic. They look decisive. They look really, really well-coached. Perhaps most noticeably, they look nothing like the stodgy stand-around squads of Tommy Amaker's former regime. And with Stu Douglass, Manny Harris, DeShawn Sims, and so on -- hey, who knows, right? Maybe they'll just make the tournament this year.
(Funny broadcasting note: In her postgame interview of Michigan head coach John Beilein, the usually terrific Doris Burke called Stu Douglass "Stu Jackson." Unfortunately, the NBA's punisher in chief does not play for the Michigan Wolverines. Shame. Anyway, Doris can expect a fine from the NBA any day now.
If you went to USC, you can't complain. Look, USC people, assorted film students and The Hills extras that you are: I will hear no complaint from you. This morning, you woke up, and sure, your team lost last night in a second-half collapse the likes of which are rarely seen, but chances are, when you woke up this morning, it was 77 degrees and sunny. Chances are, on your morning walk to work/class/the park, you saw about 20 gorgeous women (or men). Chances are, your dispositions are appropriately upbeat. Now. Look at Bobby Gonzalez. Just look at him. That guy is a mess, OK? He's up there in West Orange, New Jersey. It's cold. It's dank. It's ... New Jersey. And he's fueding with members of the press for reasons we still can't figure out. Let the guy enjoy a little Thursday night fun, all right? Life is better for everyone (especially the Seton Hall beat writers) when Gonzalez gets the occasional upset win.
Plus, your football team is still amazing. So you've got that going for you.
Elsewhere: Duke finished off Southern Illinois early in the second half, and then waited for UCLA, and we all know how that went. Coach K's probably happy, but ESPN's producers are probably not ... Memphis killed an easy game against Chattanooga, though one imagines what that score would have been last year ... and Nick Calathes had 18 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in a cold-shooting Florida win. The Gators were 1-16 from three. If only Teddy Dupay were available.