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What a week for UCLA basketball! Although they were outplayed by ASU on Thursday, UCLA’s defense managed to keep the game close. Now, while I’m never one to suggest referees should (or could) make the difference in a game, I firmly believe bad officiating decided this game.

ASU star James Harden managed to get away with numerous pushoffs and travels — although he obviously was called on both more than once. It does make me wonder how much of that he actually gets away with.

Harden didn’t get called for charge late in the game on a drive in which he floored both Jrue Holiday and Alfred Aboya. Aboya was instead was instead whistled for a blocking foul. Moments later, with the score 69-67 ASU, Darren Collison was called for a charge, despite Jeff Pendergraph not having his feet set — at least as much, if not moreso than Aboya did.

Had the call gone in UCLA’s favor, the score would’ve been 70-69 UCLA, and I think the outcome would’ve been very different.

It should be interesting to see how UCLA responds. Last time they were backed into a corner, they responded by punishing Cal, Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame. Now, they face the Washington schools (albeit at home this time) and it’s clear UW senses blood in the water.

That two week stretch prior to the desert roadie may have masked some deficiencies. A starting lineup change may be in order. Currently, the starting five is PG Collison, SG Holiday, SF Shipp, PF Dragovic, C Aboya.

With this lineup, UCLA has been outrebounded, and other than Collison, lacks a guard willing to consistently drive it to the rack. Given that, I propose a switch to this lineup: PG Collison, SG Roll, SF Keefe, PF Gordon, C Aboya.

Granted, James Keefe has been terribly tentative lately, perhaps even more so than Holiday. Still, his length, and his defense helps shore up the Bruin frontline, along with Drew Gordon. The dropoff in frontcout rebounding and defensive performance from Kevin Love and L.R Mbah a Moute to Nikola Dragovic and Aboya is troubling, and adding Gordon and Keefe can perhaps address that issue.

Then there’s Holiday. While no one expected Kevin Love 2009, I don’t think anyone expected the timid, tentative freshman we’ve seen lately. Having an inconsistent, reluctant to take control Shipp alongside Holiday makes for a pretty lackluster offensive attack.

Roll is adept enough to move without the ball and create his shot, so perhaps his presence is the shot in the arm that the UCLA offense needs. But let’s not forget what makes UCLA run — defense and rebounding. To beat UW, Collison, Holiday, Lee, and Anderson all need to contain UW’s nimble guards, and Aboya and the bigs need to contain Jon Brockman.

On a non-basketball note — how cheap was Matt Kenseth’s Daytona 500 win? That was Kyle Busch’s race to lose, and if wasn’t for Brian Vickers and Dale Junior pointlessly jockeying, Busch should’ve stayed in the race.


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