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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Wicker: The UCLA basketball team is back to take its shot

Everyone saw the shot.

As the clock was disappearing, everyone watched Jalen Suggs sprint upcourt. Every time they play it again, he fires it from near midcourt, a shot, not a heve.

Each time, he runs to the side with his Gonzaga teammates and leaps across the table. He never misses, he never falls.

And UCLA doesn’t have a second chance to take the best college basketball game of this century into yet another overtime on April 3, 2020.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin was punished for seeing it for the first time.

From how many times?

“Zero,” Cronin said on Monday.

“When I study that movie, Johnny (Xujang) scores to tie it up and I hit pause. When you’re in my position you can’t see things that don’t matter. There’s social in it.” Media commentary and half-court bank shots are included. You can’t possibly learn anything from watching this.”

It made sense to send UCLA home and send Gonzaga 31–0 to the national championship game at the time, where it was robbed by Baylor.

The Bruins became the 147th college team last season to shoot 57 percent off the floor while attempting more than 20 free throws, and the fifth to lose doing so.

Yet he left Indianapolis with a prestige transplant. They emerged as the Bravehearts from a 93–90 defeat and rode 11th seed slalom to reach the semifinals, playing the first of four games against Michigan State.

They won that one in overtime and later beat No. 2 seed Alabama by 10 in overtime and No. 1 seed Michigan by two on defensive stops at the end.

They became something the UCLA basketball team has rarely been, a passionate favorite.

That, of course, ends here.

The Bruins scored 455 points in the tournament and returned each one to the scoring players.

They added Rim parent Miles Johnson, a transfer from Rutgers, and signed Peyton Watson of Long Beach Poly, who played for Team USA this summer.

No one outside the fan base would be surprised if the Bruins win their first NCAA championship in 27 years.

Everyone inside the fan base would be surprised if they didn’t.

“A lot of people were excited about what we did,” Jujang said. “It’s really awesome, to see the program become something the city is proud of.”

Add a classy schedule that includes Villanova, Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Marquette, and open the doors to students who, for the most part, had to generate noise from the dorms last season, and you have the most anticipated season. . Lonzo Ball’s drop-in, five years ago.

“If you were one of the few teams with the experience of the past few years, it was such an advantage,” Cronin said. “But now teams with no experience go and take six people out of the transfer portal.

“Winning will be very difficult. The difference is that our experienced players have played together.”

The biggest difference-maker may be Johnson, who has an electrical computer engineering degree all ready and all.

He interned with IBM over the summer and will go deeper into this area in grad school this year.

He was also the second best shot blocker in the Big Ten, which means he may be the last filament of the light bulb at UCLA.

“With that, we can expand our defense,” Cronin said. “The more you can do that, you can cause turnover and get easier baskets. Since I’ve been here, that’s one thing we haven’t been able to do. If you look at us analytically, So one thing we can improve on is our two-point defence. Miles can help us there and Peyton with his length too.

Johnson was also in the bubble of the tournament. His Rutgers team defeated Clemson in the first round, then lost to Houston.

World Nation News Desk
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