Saturday , Apr , 01 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Notes from the Final Four: LSU vs. UCLA

If you haven’t caught the notes from the Florida-GMU game yet, you can check those out by clicking here. Otherwise, there’s not much to say. Let’s get right into it.

– LSU end up with the ball following a scrappy tip, going straight to Big Baby, who clanks a fade-away jumper.

– The pace of this game is so much quicker than the Gators-Patriots contest that it’s difficult to imagine what the final will looks like. Both teams will want to dictate the tempo, but only one can win out in the end.

– There’s an unusual situation when one official overrules the other’s decision, only to be overruled himself.

Notes from the Final Four: LSU vs. UCLA

–         UCLA are overloading one side of the floor, then running their shooters baseline. They’re not allowing the play to develop fully, though, rather settling for one-on-one moves.
–         Farmar is fouled and hits what looks to be a continuation basket, but the referee waves it off.
–         Tyrus Thomas picks up a questionable offensive foul, although he doesn’t seem too fazed by it.
–         If the Florida-GMU game was trench warfare in the paint, this is more like an air raid.
–         Kareem shows up on the big screen wearing a UCLA cap and the crowd loves it.
–         LSU seem determined to keep shooting until something drops for them.
–         Davis breaks through a foul (not called) and banks it in.
–         Aboya sends a fast-break layup into the third row.
–         Luc Richard Mbah A Moute needs to drop a few of those names. I’m not typing that out every time he does something.
–         Mbah A Moute (that’s still too long) intercepts a sloppy pass and finishes the break with a double-handed dunk, prompting an LSU timeout.
–         Bozeman wills the ball into the bucket to make it 20-8 in UCLA’s favour.
–         Thomas responds quickly by absorbing the contact and finishing a layup for the and-one play. LSU are going to have to maintain the physicality of this game if they’re to have any chance of correcting their deficit before the half.
–         The LSU band plays “Eye of the Tiger” in the timeout. I get it.
–         Farmar sets his feet and hits a long three over a screen, stretching their lead back out to twelve.
–         Davis barely avoids the foul as he attempts to block a shot inside. He’ll need to be careful not to be overzealous defensively or he’ll be spending longer on the bench than he’d like.

–         The combination of Mata’s name and mask make him look pretty dangerous, even if he’s not making much of an impact on the game right now. (For those of you unfamiliar with Spanish, “mata” translates as “he kills”.)
–         It’s 3:30 in the morning here in England, which means that we’re treated to some of the more, uh, interesting commercials during the TV timeouts.
–         For those of you who have read my notes from the Florida-GMU game, they just showed the hockey montage again.
–         Mbah A Moute goes through the motion of his free throw without the ball, then shoots with a completely different stroke. It always tickles me when players do that.
–         LSU don’t seem to be able to keep hold of the ball. UCLA have stolen it from them three plays in a row now.
–         Billy Donovan is seen stalking the sidelines as the camera pans around the perimeter of the court.
–         I know it’s good to stay calm in pressure situations, but it can’t be promising that Glen Davis just yawned.
–         Big Baby asks for a timeout, apparently not capable of keeping up with the rest of the game. It’s easy to question his conditioning, but how fit do you think you’d be if you were his size?
–         Looking at him on the bench, I’m not sure he was yawning as much as trying to take in air. He looks more tired than he should be at this stage in the game.
–         I’m yet to see Mitchell pass up any shot.
–         The officials are making their presence known a little too much for this type of game. My thinking is that if you notice the referees, they probably messed up somewhere, and right now we’re seeing more of them than we are of the players.
–         An announcer informs us that Glen Davis played running back as a youth. Would you want to try to tackle him?
–         The referee makes one petty call too many and the crowd lets him have it. Unless someone ends up bleeding, it’s probably not worth calling a loose ball foul as players jostle for position under the hoop.
–         The official blows his whistle unnecessarily yet again, this time apparently for an elbow in the paint. If you can’t throw ’bows in the key, it’s not basketball.
–         UCLA lose track of time and don’t manage to get a shot off before the halftime horn, but still hold a 39-25 lead going into the break.
–         I know the whole perma-smile steez is traditional for cheerleaders, but the UCLA girls look entirely too happy. I don’t want to say that they seem a tad drunk, but I just did.
–         To follow up the third showing of the hockey montage in the commercial, we’re treated to a two-minute promotion for a CD collection called “Country Classics”. I’m not sure they fully considered their target demographic when buying their advertising slots.
–         Watching the halftime highlights, you can see just how unlucky Glen Davis has been thus far. At least four of his missed shots have looked to be good before trickling off the rim.
–         It’s now past four in the morning here, and I’m still not feeling any ill effects of having been awake for well over twenty-four hours. All the late nights due to watching tournament games have conditioned my body not to be alarmed when I go extended periods without sleep. It’s become an annual tradition of mine to go into hibernation following the finals to recoup the seventy or so hours of shut-eye I lose over the month of March.
–         Mbah A Moute starts off the second half by taking a beautiful backdoor pass and throwing it down.
–         Glen Davis continues in the second half as he finished the first, barely missing a layup.
–         Big Baby blows another layup and Mbah A Moute hammers home another dunk. Either that, or my satellite connection skipped again.
–         Hollins catches an adventurous lob from Farmar and hammers it down to create a twenty-point cushion for UCLA. LSU look deflated and all but defeated.
–         Farmar twists the dagger with a twenty-five-footer that finds the bottom of the net. If any of you are familiar with the Mortal Kombat videogames, you’ll recognise this as the “FINISH HIM” moment.
–          Following the bucket, the camera locates Reggie Miller in the crowd, a man who appreciates a cold-blooded three as much as anyone.
–         Farmar drains another from long distance, making it 50-27. This is getting Popeye Jones-ugly.
–         A close camera shot reveals that Farmar is rocking a pair of the old-school Feet You Wear Kobe Twos.
–         Big Baby is whistled for a collision with Collison, taking a seat shortly thereafter with his second foul.
–         We’re reminded that, with thirteen minutes left in the game, Davis and Thomas have combined for only ten points.
–         There may be a number of big men as athletic as Hollins, but I haven’t seen a player of his size who gets up as quickly since Kenyon Martin.
–         “Arron Aflalo” might be my favourite name of this year’s tournament.
–         Davis’ quickness driving to the hole never fails to amaze me. When you see an LSU big man with his combination of strength and mobility, it’s difficult not to make the Shaq comparison.
–         As if to accentuate the likeness, he bricks a pair of free throws.
–         Davis dips his shoulder, giving Hollins an opportunity to show off his acting skills as he obviously flops. The referee finds his performance convincing, however, and whistles Big Baby for the charge.
–         Davis is finally rewarded for his effort, hitting a layup and the ensuing free throw for a three-point play.
–         With a full seven minutes left in the game, UCLA are looking to run out the clock, and LSU seem content to let them do it.
–         A profile shot reveals that the nose protector on Mata’s mask is far too big for him. I know there’s not supposed to be contact between flesh and plastic at the point of injury, but it looks as if he could keep a bottle of Gatorade in the cavity.
–         The commentators have started to refer to a twenty-point comeback in five minutes as “impossible”. I thought this was the NCAA tournament.
–         Either I just saw a ninety-second commercial for foam baseball bats, or my lack of sleep has finally begun to induce hallucinations.
–         Glen Davis fouls out with fourteen points, and the crowd recognises his performance with an uncertain noise, something like cheering mixed with sobbing.

The final buzzer sounds with about two seconds remaining on the clock, the final score being 59-45.

–         Poor showings from Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas facilitated the victory for UCLA, who were consistently impressive at both ends of the floor. The result of this game means that UCLA and Florida will meet for the first time in their history on the biggest stage possible, the NCAA tournament finals.
As always, you can reach me via email ([email protected]) or the box below if you have any comments or queries. Make sure to visit us again on Monday for my recap of the big game. Until then, take it easy.