Memphis coach John Calipari has been talking lately about the Tigers’ lack of national respect, and Monday he said the way his Tigers played lately shows they are deserving being in the Final Four, where they will face UCLA.
“They way we played this weekend, we deserve to be in the Final Four,” Calipari said. “We were really defensive-minded. We were really unselfish. We really took care of the ball, and offensively, we really executed.
“You got to see the true gist of the third and fourth drive, the back door cuts, the post-ups. Ya’ know, all the stuff we do, you got a better vision of it for those that didn’t know about it.”
Not that it is a surprise, but legendary UCLA coach John Wooden will not be at the Final Four. He did not attend either of the last two, either, and continues to recover at home after being hospitalized a month ago after falling at his condo.
Anyone go to the Dodgers-Red Sox game at the Coliseum last night? If you did, you had the opportunity to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the field at the Coliseum. If that wasn’t strange enough, so was his pitching. Between the first and second innings, Abdul-Jabbar one-hopped his ceremonial pitch to the left of catcher Russell Martin. Then he sky hooked a pitch to Martin, who had stepped in front of the bag before he tossed it. Fittingly, the hook-shot pitch worked much better than his real pitch.
I am looking forward to this matchup between UCLA and Memphis because I think the contrast in styles make it very interesting.
In a nutshell, I think Memphis has the edge in athletic ability, but UCLA gets a big edge in the coaching department. I know there are some similar opponents — like Texas and Michigan State — but I don’t think comparing how UCLA and Memphis did against each one matters much, especially since the Bruins played both of them in the first month of the season and Memphis played them in the last three days.
Anyway, what are everyone’s thoughts on the matchup?
UCLA vs. Memphis is the first game of the Final Four and will tip at 3:07 p.m. pacific.
Kansas vs. North Carolina will tip at approximatley 5:47 p.m.
Also, UCLA coach Ben Howland said power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had a small amount of swelling in his left ankle today, but he should be fine.
UCLA is off today and will do cardio and weight lifting Monday before returning to the practice court Tuesday.
Before the Memphis victory over Texas, John Calipari said this is what he told his team about advancing to the Final Four.
“I kept telling them, it’s our time,” Calipari said. “We’ve been here enough. It’s our time.”
While UCLA has made three consecutive Final Four appearances, Memphis made the Final Four for the first time since 1985, but that appearance was wiped from the record books because of rules violations. Their previous appearance was a memorable one. Memphis – then known as Memphis State – and UCLA played for the national championship in 1973. That was the game were Bill Walton made 21 of 22 field goals and scored 44 points.
I talked to a source of mine today, and was told Bob Lopez resigned as UCLA’s director of football operations because he is possibly heading to San Diego State to join the staff there. Lopez and former coach Karl Dorrell were close, but I was told new coach Rick Neuheisel wanted to keep Lopez.
The timing isn’t the best for UCLA since spring practice begins Thursday, and UCLA will have a bunch of juniors on campus over the weekend, and Lopez would play an integral role in that. However, I am told he will be gone by the end of the week.