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UCLA: A beautiful Hybrid of Philosphy

Sun, 03/23/2008 - 4:03pm

By Nick Prevenas
3/23/08[img_assist|nid=3424|title=Kevin Love - Icon SMI |desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=440]

I know you’re sick of hearing about UCLA.

I know you’re tired of seeing the puff pieces. I know you’re burnt out on seeing the Bruins top the majority of your co-workers’ brackets.

Me? I’m not tired of UCLA at all. In fact, I can’t get enough of them.

Yes, I picked UCLA to win it all. I picked them for all the reasons you’ve heard a million times — wonderful coach, excellent depth, suffocating defense, top-notch backcourt, Kevin Love, etc.

However, I believe UCLA will win this year’s NCAA Championship because this team appeals to everything I like about basketball.

See, modern hoops is split into two schools of thought, which I call Flash and Fundamental.

Flash constitutes all of those moments that make us jump out of our seats, call our friends, log onto Youtube. Flash creates “the buzz” we search for anytime we devote two hours to a basketball game.

Flash is Vince Carter jumping over Frederic Weis, Gilbert Arenas screaming “Hibachi!” and Dwight Howard taking it to the rack with more power than a locomotive.

Fundamental is what Dr. James Naismith envisioned when he first cut the bottom out of a peach basket. It’s an effective drop step after establishing post position. It’s going glass four steps to the left of the elbow.

It’s Tim Duncan. It’s Carlos Boozer.

All too often, it seems as if Flash and Fundamental are in direct conflict with one another, even if most basketball fans have a soft spot for both. When they clash, Flash might win the battle, but Fundamental tends to win the war.

But UCLA represents a beautiful hybrid. The Bruins need to win, if only to prove once and for all that Flash and Fundamental can co-exist.

No offense to Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina or any of the other title hopefuls, but a national championship from these squads doesn’t mean anything, in a macro sense.

Simply put, a UCLA championship would matter more.

Russell Westbrook is UCLA’s Flash. Not only is Westbrook the Bruins’ top defender, he is a borderline Internet cult hero.

Type his name into Youtube and you’ll see tens of thousands of views on his two signature dunks: Jan. 5 at Cal and Feb. 23 against Oregon.

Westbrook told me he prefers the Cal dunk, but both are pretty nasty.

In each contest, Westbrook sprinted down the center of the floor and embarrassed anyone who dared to step in his way.

After UCLA held on to beat Arizona 68-66 on March 2, I asked Darren Collison about his teammate’s status as a Youtube sensation.

“We love it,” Collison said. “We’ve all [logged onto Youtube and] watched him. It’s awesome.”

And you know it is only a matter of time before Westbrook’s at-the-buzzer exclamation point to cap the remarkable comeback over Texas A&M is uploaded.

Westbrook’s style has proven to be a perfect complement to Collison, the Fundamental aspect of the UCLA backcourt.

Since returning from injury on Nov. 28, the sophomore has re-established himself as one of the nation’s premier old-school floor generals.

The slippery Collison has proven adept at the “the defender’s outstretched arm is six inches over the rim, so I’ll shoot it seven inches” tear-drop move, as well as the “we need the momentum back on our side, so I’ll drain this back-breaking 20-footer right before the media timeout” jumper.

Collison’s game is a hybrid between Mo Cheeks and John Stockton, with his propensity for backcourt steals nearly equaling his table-setting skills.

Of course, any Fundamental discussion regarding UCLA would be incomplete without any mention of the Pac-10 Player of the Year.

It actually makes me sad that more post players don’t approach the game like Kevin Love. It shouldn’t be considered noteworthy to see a big man grab a rebound with two hands, pivot, and immediately fire an outlet pass the length of the floor for an easy lay-up.

But Love remains an anomaly, with his 3-point range, his superlative footwork and his textbook box-out technique.

All young big men should be forced to watch UCLA games, just to see how Love keeps the ball high and how he keeps his head up after rebounds.

“I wish I could take credit for Love’s skills, but he came here with all of that already learned,” said Ben Howland — for my money, the best coach in college basketball.

Love remains a divisive NBA prospect, mainly due to his height (listed at UCLA: A beautiful Hybrid of Philosphy

By Nick Prevenas
3/23/08

I know you’re sick of hearing about UCLA.

I know you’re tired of seeing the puff pieces. I know you’re burnt out on seeing the Bruins top the majority of your co-workers’ brackets.

Me? I’m not tired of UCLA at all. In fact, I can’t get enough of them.

Yes, I picked UCLA to win it all. I picked them for all the reasons you’ve heard a million times — wonderful coach, excellent depth, suffocating defense, top-notch backcourt, Kevin Love, etc.

However, I believe UCLA will win this year’s NCAA Championship because this team appeals to everything I like about basketball.

See, modern hoops is split into two schools of thought, which I call Flash and Fundamental.

Flash constitutes all of those moments that make us jump out of our seats, call our friends, log onto Youtube. Flash creates “the buzz” we search for anytime we devote two hours to a basketball game.

Flash is Vince Carter jumping over Frederic Weis, Gilbert Arenas screaming “Hibachi!” and Dwight Howard taking it to the rack with more power than a locomotive.

Fundamental is what Dr. James Naismith envisioned when he first cut the bottom out of a peach basket. It’s an effective drop step after establishing post position. It’s going glass four steps to the left of the elbow.

It’s Tim Duncan. It’s Carlos Boozer.

All too often, it seems as if Flash and Fundamental are in direct conflict with one another, even if most basketball fans have a soft spot for both. When they clash, Flash might win the battle, but Fundamental tends to win the war.

But UCLA represents a beautiful hybrid. The Bruins need to win, if only to prove once and for all that Flash and Fundamental can co-exist.

No offense to Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina or any of the other title hopefuls, but a national championship from these squads doesn’t mean anything, in a macro sense.

Simply put, a UCLA championship would matter more.

Russell Westbrook is UCLA’s Flash. Not only is Westbrook the Bruins’ top defender, he is a borderline Internet cult hero.

Type his name into Youtube and you’ll see tens of thousands of views on his two signature dunks: Jan. 5 at Cal and Feb. 23 against Oregon.

Westbrook told me he prefers the Cal dunk, but both are pretty nasty.

In each contest, Westbrook sprinted down the center of the floor and embarrassed anyone who dared to step in his way.

After UCLA held on to beat Arizona 68-66 on March 2, I asked Darren Collison about his teammate’s status as a Youtube sensation.

“We love it,” Collison said. “We’ve all [logged onto Youtube and] watched him. It’s awesome.”

And you know it is only a matter of time before Westbrook’s at-the-buzzer exclamation point to cap the remarkable comeback over Texas A&M is uploaded.

Westbrook’s style has proven to be a perfect complement to Collison, the Fundamental aspect of the UCLA backcourt.

Since returning from injury on Nov. 28, the sophomore has re-established himself as one of the nation’s premier old-school floor generals.

The slippery Collison has proven adept at the “the defender’s outstretched arm is six inches over the rim, so I’ll shoot it seven inches” tear-drop move, as well as the “we need the momentum back on our side, so I’ll drain this back-breaking 20-footer right before the media timeout” jumper.

Collison’s game is a hybrid between Mo Cheeks and John Stockton, with his propensity for backcourt steals nearly equaling his table-setting skills.

Of course, any Fundamental discussion regarding UCLA would be incomplete without any mention of the Pac-10 Player of the Year.

It actually makes me sad that more post players don’t approach the game like Kevin Love. It shouldn’t be considered noteworthy to see a big man grab a rebound with two hands, pivot, and immediately fire an outlet pass the length of the floor for an easy lay-up.

But Love remains an anomaly, with his 3-point range, his superlative footwork and his textbook box-out technique.

All young big men should be forced to watch UCLA games, just to see how Love keeps the ball high and how he keeps his head up after rebounds.

“I wish I could take credit for Love’s skills, but he came here with all of that already learned,” said Ben Howland — for my money, the best coach in college basketball.

Love remains a divisive NBA prospect, mainly due to his height (listed at 6-10, but closer to 6-8) and his running style (best described as a “heavy jog”).

But on the college level, Love is one of the most purely entertaining players to watch. He proves that sharp skills and flawless technique can make up for athletic disadvantages. Don’t believe me? Ask DeAndre Jordan.

Flash and Fundamental, working together in a yin and a yang type of arrangement, not against each other.

This is how basketball should be.

6-10, but closer to 6-8) and his running style (best described as a “heavy jog”).

 

But on the college level, Love is one of the most purely entertaining players to watch. He proves that sharp skills and flawless technique can make up for athletic disadvantages. Don’t believe me? Ask DeAndre Jordan.

Flash and Fundamental, working together in a yin and a yang type of arrangement, not against each other.

This is how basketball should be.

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