West Regional Final - 3 Xavier vs 1 UCLA

Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2008 by Travis Cody in
2

This is going to sound stupid, but most sports platitudes sound stupid so I think I'm ok. 3 seed Xavier must play a full 40 minutes today in order to beat 1 seed UCLA.

What does that mean?

It means that Xavier must focus on fundamentals, protect against unforced errors, take good shots, score around the rim, and get back on defense. And they must remain focused on these things for the entire game, because UCLA is too talented and will take advantage of any breakdown.

It's just that simple. But that doesn't make it easy to achieve.

UCLA is off to an excellent start on the offensive end. They are good enough to win games solely on the strength of their defense, so when they shoot the ball well it becomes so difficult to beat them.

The Bruins challenge every pass, every shot, and every rebound. They don't gamble on steals very often, which means they are rarely out of position to make the right defensive play.

As well as UCLA is playing defensively, Xavier is only down by three at the eight minute time out.

The intensity picked up over the next 5 minutes, and both teams had trouble with ball control. Neither team could score consistently. But Xavier seems to be doing the things it needs to do to keep the game close and give itself a chance in the second half.

However, in the final two minutes of the half UCLA tightens the screws defensively and started to take control, leading by 9 at the half.

Xavier got the first bucket of the second half, but then the Bruins focused their defensive intensity and extended the lead to double digits. The Musketeers had all kinds of trouble figuring out how best to attack UCLA in the half court.

UCLA struggled in its early round games, but today they have it all working. The Bruins are over-powering Xavier and the Musketeers can't get any offense going. UCLA has surged to a 20 point lead at 14:36 to play.

Xavier picked up the third foul on the great freshman from UCLA, Kevin Love. I would suggest that this could work to the Musketeers advantage, but they just aren't playing well enough to make that a valid statement.

To Xavier's credit, they have stepped up the defensive pressure and forced UCLA to scramble a bit. But they still can't make shots consistently to close the gap. They are down 16 at the 12 minute time out.

Xavier finally gets an outside jumper to go, and immediately fall victim to a brilliant full court outlet pass from Love and an easy lay up for UCLA, keeping the lead in double figures.

UCLA has taken complete control of the game, pushing the lead to 20 again with just about seven minutes to play. The Bruins kept Xavier from getting into any kind of offensive rhythm.

It wasn't a very exciting game. UCLA was in control for pretty much all of it. And so the Bruins become the first team into the Final Four. There is a very real possibility that all four #1 seeds will advance to the Final Four, the first time that has happened.

The Bruins go to their third consecutive Final Four. UCLA last won the tournament in 1995, which was the school's 11th national championship in men's basketball.

It's so tough to watch seniors close out their careers when the game hasn't gone in their favor. I tip my hat to them all as they move on to the next phases of their lives. As the NCAA commercials say, most of these athletes are going pro in something other than sports.

2 comments:

  1. sanni says:

    Thanks for the great review. Whenever I read your reviews it feels like I´ve been there and watched live!

    Keep it up, my friend!

  1. Travis says:

    Sanni: I'm glad you like it!