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A Poor Stretch In Chapel Hill & A UCLA Review

Trouble In Paradise?

UNC Is 11-5 Overall, But  A Very
Un-UNC-ish 5-4 In Their
Last 9 Games

Cincy L
T. Tech W
Miami W
Indiana L
Louisville L
Howard W
Clemson W
Wake Forest L

Here's another
post-mortem about the UNC-Wake game
. In case you have been in Outer
Mongolia, Wake rallied from 10 down to win by 9 in a remarkable comeback. 
This has caused great consternation amongst the faithful because folk wisdom has
it that UNC has the lock on comebacks. Au contraire!  Apparently not, or at
least not on Wednesday night.  Perhaps that knack departed with Dean, which
would make sense because it came in with him.

Next up is UCLA. Basketball at UCLA
isn't what it used to be either,
in this case meaning 1995, not 1973. 
After the Bruins come, in short order, a hungry and Weber (boo!) quick team in
UVa, then FSU and Maryland at home, then a Tech team which can match UNC's
height on the road, followed by Duke in Chapel Hill (throw common sense out no
matter what transpires between now and then because it won't apply).  If
UNC continues to show signs of weakness, you can believe that the sharks are
going to be circling, and the fans, like Romans of old, will be calling from
stadia for blood, by the bucket, and quickly.

Richard Ranger was nice enough to send us some comments on UCLA's dismal performance against USC, and why UNC should be optimistic. Thanks Richard!

Following a banner night for all Blue Devil fans, out here on the Left
Coast the morning's big story was the UCLA-USC game, with the sports
pundits giving the clear impression they think last night's game may
have been a milestone. Their observations articulate thoughts I had
watching the Bruins struggle to beat Pepperdine on their storied home
hardwood in December (remember it was my son Owen whom Catherine
reported as saying they could beat Carolina).

Steve Bisheff of the Orange County Register was devastating: "Anyone
surprised by this UCLA performance hadn't been watching closely. The
Bruins, who came in with perhaps the most deceiving 9-3 record in
America, reverted to the team that had lost to Gonzaga, Colorado State
and Washingotn State and had barely edged Pepperdine at Pauley
Pavilion. This team has no cohesiveness or structure, especially on
offense. It has Earl Watson playing his heart out, but at the wrong
position. It has two big men, Dan Gadzuric and Jerome Moiso, who
haven't improved since the day they signed their letters of intent. And
it has no real leader, except for Kapono, who seemed to know how to play
the game better than all his teammates the first day we walked on

The LA Times' Bill Plaschke ("Have No Fear, New Day Is Here") claimed
that "today, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, control of the city
game has been returned to the city, to the team with the most local
kids, the best local feel." He observed that "In recent years, UCLA
could always say that no matter how disjointed its attack, it could win
with talent. Not anymore." He described a sequence in the first half
(which is all I could stay up for) where USC switched to a zone right
after a TV timeout, and UCLA freaked, calling another timeout after
sixteen ticks on the clock.

In the first half, USC outrebounded UCLA 28-10, with UCLA's big men
claiming only 3 rebounds between them. UCLA's assist-to-turnover ratio
was 15-15, and they were a Shaq-istic 8-for-18 from the line.

No cohesion, bad numbers, big men who suit up but leave their heads in
the locker room, and a coach who may not have the ability to motivate
and to enlist the cooperation of the players he recruits. Not a pretty
picture for the Bruins. I think that Carolina will find themselves with
a morale-builder this weekend. If they don't beat UCLA by 20, they
should be ashamed of themselves. Lang, Cota, and Forte should have a
field day. Capel will have his hands full if he gets matched up with
Kapono, and with their combined head problems, Haywood and Gadzuric just
might be better off calling it a night and going to have a beer
somewhere (though I give the edge to Haywood).

As a West Coast fan, I'm wondering what the future holds for the UCLA
program and its young coach. If it is to come to pass that Henry Bibby
may have started something at USC, that's a good thing for West Coast
hoops, and for the Pac-10. If USC's record of 3-0 in the league, and
10-5 overall augur for the rest of the season, it makes our win over USC
in November look even better. We may see the Trojans again this season.

Best cheer of the night: the farewell serenade from the USC fans at the
Sports Arena to UCLA and its fans "Just like football, just like