Monday, February 19, 2007

UCLA defeats Arizona

When I made the existential choice to root for UCLA, I might have considered location. If I had chosen a Big Ten school, I'd get to watch them play every weekend. As it is, on Saturday I got my first chance to watch the team I've been following from afar (the Bruin Basketball Report does a good job summarizing games). Here are a few observations on this team, based on what I saw against Arizona.

Darren Collison
Collison is a much better point guard for this team than Jordan Farmar was. Farmar dribbled a lot, looking for his own shot; Collison moves the ball around, getting teammates good shots and constantly pushing the tempo of the game. Don't get me wrong, Farmar was great: it's hard to criticize his style of play on last year's team when he was the best player on a team that got to the NCAA championship game, and if he were on this year's Bruin team, he might alter his game to better suit the team's abilities. But right now, Collison is a wonderful point guard.

Against the zone
After UCLA opened up the game with domination, Arizona switched to a zone. The zone was occasionally effective (and it was much more effective than man to man was), but the Bruins still managed to break it. They broke the Arizona zone just the way you're supposed to break a zone: move the ball around quickly, hit your outside shots, run the floor, and penetrate to alter the zone. They were particularly good on Saturday at making their three pointers: there were stretches when the team was really hot, and a few players hit some DEEP threes.

UCLA should be good in the NCAA tournament because they match up so well with anybody; they shouldn't get a bad matchup against a team with a style they can't match. They can run the floor, they can play stifling defense, they have a competent post game, they can rebound, they have outside shooters, they have versatile scoring guards and swingmen--it's a formidable team.

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