#4 Washington St. @ #4 UCLA preview. Ok, let’s get this out of the way immediately. Wazzu is 1-49 all-time at Pauley Pavilion. What else do we know? We know that the last four games at UCLA have come down to the last possession of the game (UCLA won all four by 3/3/2/3 pts). We know that both of these teams play old man ball (each has a tempo hovering near the bottom of D1), but they also play stifling defense (Pomeroy has UCLA as the fifth best D and Wazzu as the eighth) and don’t make many mistakes (each is in the top thirty most efficient teams on both ends of the court). We know that both teams play a high-caliber basketball and do not suffer fools lightly (poorly coached teams simply stand no chance against these two). We know that Tony Bennett and Ben Howland are both tremendous motivators and tacticians. We know that Wazzu has been criticized for a soft nonconference schedule (#304 – Pomeroy) to get to their 14-0 mark but we also know that winning at Washington and USC are no cupcakes, and UCLA already lost once this year at Pauley to Texas. And we know that the old-school game of Kevin Love (16/10) and how Wazzu handles him with Aron Baynes (12/7) and Robbie Cowgill (8/5) will probably be the deciding factor in what will likely be another very close matchup tomorrow.
Fwiw, Pomeroy is only giving Wazzu a 24% chance of winning the game, teamrankings.com gives them a 30% chance and Sagarin has the Bruins as a seven-point favorite.
Let’s see what’s coming out of both camps today – it appears that both sides are expecting an all-out war:
Well we are going to need lot more of Love, Mata-Real, Westbrook, Shipp and AA2 on Saturday when taking on the Cougars. Howland described what Saturday is going to be like to Dohn:
“It will be like getting a root canal without any pain killers,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “Playing them is going through the grinder. It is unbelievably hard because of how patient they are offensively, and how they just wait for a breakdown.”
Hopefully Luc and DC will be ready to go on Saturday. And if one of them can’t or they are not 100 percent, rest of their team-mates will have to step up through the adversity. It is going to be another all out war. And judging from the past we know our warriors will battle through the adversity and give it everything they have.
If there’s one thing to worry about heading into Saturday, it’s this: Low, Rochestie and Weaver each played 37 minutes or more, including 38 high-effort minutes for Weaver, who had the unenviable task of chasing O.J. Mayo around for most of the game. He’ll likely draw Josh Shipp on Saturday, who doesn’t figure to run off 32 screens the way Mayo did.
One key factor could be the availability of UCLA uber-guard Darren Collison. According to Bruins Nation blog:
“Right now, my hip hurts a lot,” Collison said. “I’m going to be doing treatment (today) and I don’t really know the status of how things are, if I’m even going to play or not. Hopefully, I can play Saturday. Right now, they’re looking at it as a hip contusion.”
“I am frustrated, but I’m going to continue to stay positive,” Collison said. “This team has a bright future ahead, and all I can do is keep my head up and stay positive. I’m going through a lot of adversity right now. It’s going to really challenge me to see how I’m going to progress and mature through those situations.”
If Collison can’t go, Russell Westbrook is a more than adequate replacement at the point. But knowing Howland players’ penchant for toughness, we’d expect to see DC out there tomorrow afternoon. At least we hope so. Should Wazzu pull the upset, we’d like to know that it happened with a full-strength UCLA. Not that we’re calling the upset. Just sayin’…