Bears Planted in South, Devils turn Page: Bruins “dove” like a Zeppelin made out of Lead in their Swan Song, but from the darkest depths of Mordor, Dazed and Confused UCLA fans’ allegiances are Going to California and Washington (ASU got No Quarter), hoping they can reach the Stairway, and salvage a Whole Lotta Love for the Pac-10
Dancing Days are here again… and “Years ago, in days of old, when magic filled the air,” Bruin fans didn’t have to talk about Cal when the Big Dance rolled around. But in this case, The Song DOESN’T Remain the Same.
The Bruins will be watching the Tournament from Over The Hills And Far Away, and they have some disappointed company: Coach of the Year Herb Sendek and Arizona State, after getting Trampled Under Foot by Stanford, got sent to the Gallow’s Pole by the Selection Committee. So Pac-10 fans have only the Bears and Huskies to Bring It On Home.
In Good Times and Bad Times, there is a large segment of Bruin fans who always root for other Pac-10 teams when they play out-of-Conference. These Bruin fans want UCLA to be in the Nation’s Best Conference, with the most Championships, and the Best teams. A much smaller, but still significant segment even root for usc when they are playing non-UCLA foes. They want sc to be as highly-ranked as possible, so that when the Bruins BeatSC, it means that much more, even possibly, having National implications.
I am NOT in either of these segments. Obviously, I root against sc at almost any cost, in every Sport. The only problem occurs when an sc victory could actually assist UCLA in the Standings. At that point, it’s a case-by-case decision. If an sc win could somehow put UCLA in a BCS Bowl game, or assure the Bruins of getting into the NCAA Tournament in Basketball, then sure, I’d have to bite the bullet and root (quietly) for the trogans [“sic”]. But if a win by Fig Tech meant that the Bruins might finish a Basketball season in 5th place instead of 6th place, then I just assume the trojans lose, especially if the trojans themselves have anything at stake.
As for the rest of the Pac-10, I have to deal with those fans all the time, and I don’t like them to all be cocky and smug like the trojans, so I usually prefer them to lose. It keeps their fan travel down, it keeps their attitude in check, and it keeps their enthusiasm down to a dealable level.
I rather go undefeated against a slightly weaker Conference, than finish close to .500 in a strong Conference, so generally, I root for the other 9 teams to suck. And if they do suck, it could possibly hurt their recruiting, making sure that they continue to suck for years to come. UCLA is often competing for recruits with these 9 schools, so the more these 9 suck (or the worse their probation), the better the Bruins’ chances are of cornering the market on talent, especially locally.
Yes, it is possible that if all 9 of those schools deteriorate, the reputation of the whole Conference could take a hit, and that would eventually hurt UCLA’s prestige and thus, their recruiting. But that is a problem that I would love to order up, because it means that at least for a short time, UCLA will dominate the Pac-10.
But back in the here and now, the Pac-10 has its lowest approval rating in decades. Some “experts” are miffed that the lowly Pac got TWO teams into the Tourney, instead of just one. So this is one time where I actually wouldn’t mind if these usual Bruin RIVALS stay alive for a couple of weekends. First of all, the best players from these teams will be gone next year. Secondly, and more importantly: Most Bruin fans are sick of ESPN and Dick Vitale denigrating West Coast Basketball, so Cal in the Final Four would go a long way to calming that trend of (usually) blind hatred.
And the 8th-seeded Golden Bears will have to beat two of the Establishment’s HEROES to get there. First they play slimy Rick Pitino’s 9-seed Louisville squad. Will Bear fans get tramp masks (or tramp stamps) and dress up like cocktail waitresses? Will they bring restaurant tables and start dry-humping each other on top of them in the bleachers? Louisville just beat #1-ranked Syracuse, so Jerome Randle won’t be able to take THAT game off.
And if the Bears get by the Cardinals, they get to face Vitale’s reason for living, the #1-seed Duke Blue Devils. Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, and Jamal Boykin will all have to have career games to make it to the Sweet 16. Duke may be complacent, but even then, a Cal win would be shocking. Too bad, because, like many, many Bruin Basketball fans, I almost aways root against Duke (except when they play sc, or are underdogs against North Carolina or Calipari).
Washington is the #11-seed in the East Region, and starts with the #6-seed Marquette. If Q-Pon and company make Lorenzo Romar look good, they would likely get #3-seed New Mexico next, and then West Virginia, and ultimately Kentucky to reach the Final Four. I don’t like rooting for Reverend Romar, but if he knocks out Calipari’s Wildcats, I might find my religion, for a moment of celebration. Hallelujah.
Speaking of celebration, the UCLA Women’s Basketball team did NOT get to celebrate on Sunday, after they got killed by Stanford. The Cardinal pretty much doubled them up right from the start, and showed why they are 31-1, and why they ran the table in a Perfect Conference season. The Bruins will be in the NCAA Tournament, but if they have to face the Trees again, it’s going to take some Caldwell magic to get past them. More likely is that Stanford will play UConn for all the marbles, with a chance to snap UConn’s win streak before it hits 88. Now THERE’S a no-brainer — I’ll be cheering for the Pac-10 school on that day.
And speaking of CHEERING, here are 7 more photos of California’s Cheerleaders, in honor of their Golden Bears backing into the brackets. And after those, FINALLY, ***BY REQUEST***, there are FOURTEEN shots exclusively of the UCLA CHEER SQUAD. They are from Senior Day 2010. In the very near future, I’ll go back to the photos from the last few outdoor Football games, and bring you a nice collection of the Cheer Squad performing and posing in the bright sun, where the photos come out crisper and clearer. Thanks for your patience.
As usual, the photos jump out at you like an Avatar when you click on them, and if you just hover your mouse over them, a hidden caption should pop up. Today, they are all Led Zeppelin lyrics (0r just Zep-related), for you Classic Hard Rockers out there (but no jokes about the girls’ “Custard Pie,” or “squeezing lemons ’til the juice runs down my leg,” or “Valhalla I am coming,” or even giving anyone “every inch of my love.” “There are two paths that you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” Below, is the slightly higher road).