March 1, 2007
Bruins in showdown
This is the one everybody's been looking forward to since it was established that Washington State was going to be the only team in the Pac-10 with the ability to challenge UCLA for the conference crown, and while some of the luster has been taken off the match-up because of the Cougars' loss in Eugene last week, it should still be the best game the west coast has to offer all season long.
Forget the fact that Washington State was picked to finish 10th in the league at the beginning of the season; forget the fact that one highly respected national publication was quoted as saying 'The Cougars have the ingredients to challenge for seventh or eighth place' this year; forget the fact that there isn't a player on their roster who was even considered for a scholarship by the UCLA coaches.
Forget all of that because this team has defied the odds. They've taken no-name players, a nearly defunct style of play and a whole bunch of good coaching and gotten the absolute maximum in the end product. This group is no fluke, they're one of the ten best teams in college basketball and they deserve to be praised and exalted for the masterful execution they've displayed over the last three months.
So how has Tony Bennett been able to have so much success?
First and foremost, for a team which isn't as neither athletically gifted nor as big as most in this league, they play terrific defense. Their positioning and footwork in the post and their understanding of the team defense concept is the reason Bennett should be a lock not only for conference coach of the year, but national coach of the year as well.
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