Saturday, December 17, 2005

UCLA 68; Michigan 61

College basketball is a guard dominated sport, and UCLA did nothing to disprove that notion today, with Farmar, Afflalo, Bozeman, and Collison combing for 54 of UCLA's 68 points. It was a game of runs, with Michigan jumping out to an early 8-0 lead before Afflalo found his stroke and shot the Bruins into the lead. The teams see-sawed until the Bruins pulled away in the middle of the second half, opening an insurmountable 14 point lead. Michigan put a late scare into the Bruins, but a big steal by Afflalo, followed by a dish to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who dunked it home put the game away. Ryan Wright added the exclamation point with a breakaway dunk at the end.

There's certainly reason for optimism. This team is almost all youth, with Ced Bozeman being the only upperclassmen getting measureable minutes, and those may be cut a bit as Josh Shipp gets healthy (although Howland will probably find ways to take minutes away from the less effective post players). Speaking of the post, Ryan Wright was solid, if unspectacular. At the very least, he shows promise, which is more than we can say for Fey or Hollins, the latter of whom showed, yet again, that he simply cannot catch entry passes. Mbah a Moute is a warrior on the boards, and I really like the potential he's showing, not to mention the game that he already has.

At the end of the game, the Bruins had 2 sophomores and 3 freshmen on the floor. With that, they beat a good Michigan team on the road. The future looks pretty good.

**UPDATE -- Now with the link that I meant to put in yesterday, the lack of which made this section below somewhat confusing.**

Hello to all the visitors from Bruin Hoop Scoop. Thanks to Jeremy for the link. FYI - I try to do game recaps and the like after all games that I can get on TV. Keep in mind that I'm coming to you from Chicago (well, usally anyway - right now I'm in Temple City, but most of the time I'm in Chicago), and we can't get every game there. I'm a UC Riverside grad who grew up a Bruins fan, then went to the University of Illinois for law school (so I'm a big Illini fan, too). Occasionally, when the spirit moves me, I'll do a more general post like this one, which is now looking foolish thanks the 11-0 (and likely to be at least 14-0) Illini. So feel free to look around, and don't be a stranger. During the baseball season, this is pretty much an Angels site. During this time of year, it's UCLA, Illinois, and LA Kings site. And pretty much throughout the year, it's an indie rock site from time to time.

Kings 4; Sucks 3 (F-Shootout)

The Kings were fantastic for the first 18 minutes. Then they figured that this was a game where they would play well, and they figured that would carry them through. They were not good for the last 42 minutes, but they had Mathieu Garon behind them, who was absolutely outstanding. And that's without taking the shootout into account. He made big save after big save in the second and third periods and kept them in the game long enough for Peter Kanko to bank in the tying goal in the third period. Congrats to Kanko on his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, and congrats to Giuliano on his first NHL point. Youth was served, as Dustin Brown added a power play goal.

Things that concern me: First of all, there's almost no puck support by the Kings. If one guy has the puck roll off of his stick, of battles to a draw on the boards, there's always an opponent on the puck, and never a King. When you aren't getting the bounces, and for the most part, the Kings aren't, that's a killer. They relied far too much on Garon all night. And has anyone seen Frolov, Demitra, and Conroy? I keep hearing their names, but I can't seem to find them on the ice.

Garon was incredible, and the shootout was just the icing on the cake. He got a bit of a break when Selanne lost control of the puck on his chance, but Scott Niedermayer made a great move, and Garon absolutely stoned him. From the TV angle, I could have sworn he scored, but man, what an awesome save.

When you win without playing your best, you take what you get, because you figure that sooner or later, you're going to start playing well again. Well, sooner is gone, and later is on its way out of the building. It would be nice to see the Kings start playing decent hockey again. But I'll gladly take the two points.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


There were so many things wrong with the way the Kings played tonight, and really, they're pretty much all things that have been happening for the last couple of weeks, that to take the time to write about all of them would be a big waste of time.

They're being outhit. They're being outskated. They're being outworked. Not just by the good teams, but by every team they play. Even Florida looked good enough to beat them the other day.

By the end of the season, they'll be luck to sneak into the seventh or eighth spot. They're still living off of that good start, but that can only last so long. 13 straight games coming up against Western Conference teams, nine of them intra-division. Fewer than 16 points in that stretch, and they're in huge trouble.

Time to sit Frolov down for a game or two. There was a lot of Frolov and Ovechkin talk before this game, but Ovechkin was so much better than Frolov tonight that you couldn't even really make a comparison. And someone give Mathieu Garon some orange juice, because LaBarbera was, well, he wasn't good.

Good God. They just lost to fucking Washington.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New Music

And I mean really new. This is gonna be a short one, but two things I rarely do are a) get to like a band before they've released an album, and 2) get to like bands that repeat, or spell, their own name in their debut single over and over again. But thanks to 120 minutes, which I watched for like the first time in forever this week, I caught the video for this band called...wait for it....Morningwood. Seriously. But dammit if the song ain't catchy. Give it a listen. It's on their myspace site along with the video (just click the link and it should start playing automatically in a few seconds). It sounds like something I'm gonna listen to about 10 times, then probably never again. I have no idea what any of their other stuff sounds like, but hey, take it for what it's worth.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Catching up from yesterday

Kings 3; Panthers 1

I think it's safe to say that this was exactly what the Kings needed. They're still stuggling a bit on offense, but they got two goals out of the slumping Pavol Demitra, a goal out of the yet-to-break-out Michael Cammalleri, they were perfect on the PK for the first time in just about forever, and they got one on the power play (with another coming just as a PP ended). This was a game in which they weren't fantastic, but there was some improvement in every area, and a much needed two points.

Once again, Demitra converted on a shorthanded chance. Maybe one of the problems with the penalty kill has been a willingness to take too many chances for shorthanded breakaways. But when it works, it's pretty, and it can be a real back breaker sometimes. Demitra showed that he's one of the most skilled players in the league when he faked Roberto Luongo out of his pads for the Kings second goal.

Mathieu Garon is starting to take command of the starting job. It's no fault of Jason LaBarbera that Garon started his run of solid play when LaBarbera was out for personal reasons, but the Kings have needed someone to rise to the occasion, and Garon is starting to look like that guy.

The next three games are pretty critical. One against an Eastern team that they really should win, and two against divisional opponents as they start another stretch against Western Conference teams. This improvement couldn't have come at a more important time.

(11) Illinois 89; Oregon 59

This was by far the finest performance of the year for the 10-0 Illini (I'm starting to get used to these undefeated starts), and the catalyst was definitely the man they're counting on, Dee Brown. He did everything on offense. He made a beautiful no look pass to Augie, one of his seven assists against two turnovers. He stepped out and hit threes, and he took the ball strong to the basket against the somewhat undersized Ducks. This was definitely not the Georgetown team they played earlier in the week, with a 7'2" eraser under the basket, and the big guys took advantage. With Brown, Jamar Smith, and Rich McBride, this is a perimiter oriented offense, yet the big men combined for 34 points, the most surprising being the 11 points (and 8 rebounds) they got out of Marcus Arnold. The Illini dominated the glass, outrebounding Oregon 44-28.

By the way, Bruce Weber is now a pedestrian 73-9 in his time at Illinois. That's not too bad.

(16) UCLA 67; (17) Nevada 56

This one wasn't on TV here thanks to the geniuses at the Wooden Classic who signed a TV contract with KCAL. Thanks a lot, assholes.

Anyway, much needed solid victory against a good team. This was not Albany or Coppin State. Nevada can play. They beat Kansas in Kansas. They were a capable tournament team last year until they ran into the Illinois buzz-saw, where James Augustine showed Nick Fazekas how to play. This was a confidence boost, as a well as message to the national press that, yes, they are as good as their early rankings, despite the UCLA trademark crappy early season games against even crappier opponents.