Tuesday, June 25

[NCAA Championship] Seniors close out college careers


Bozeman scores nine as Hollins records his first and last double-double of the season in loss

INDIANAPOLIS “”mdash; As UCLA’s Jordan Farmar walked off
the court Monday night at the RCA Dome, he put his arm around
senior Ryan Hollins and pounded the center’s chest.

The point guard was smiling and talking in Hollins’ ear
all the way to the locker room.

Minutes later, Farmar cried.

Not because his team had just been played off the court by
Florida in the national championship game, but because that was his
last time playing with Hollins and swingman Cedric Bozeman.

“I basically love that guy,” Hollins said of Farmar.
“I couldn’t ask for more out of a teammate. He knows
how bad I wanted it. I know how bad he wanted it. But it’s
over now.”

So are the careers of the four seniors on the Bruins’
roster, though only Hollins and Bozeman played Monday night.

While their performance in the national championship game is one
the duo will always remember, it may also be one they want to
forget.

Bozeman kept the Bruins close in the first half by scoring seven
of his nine points, but he was visibly frustrated in the second
half when his pocket was picked twice from behind by a trailing
Florida defender.

Meanwhile Hollins’ only double-double of the season, in
which he scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, was overshadowed
by the play of Florida’s 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah, named the
Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player after his 16-point,
six-block performance on Monday.

Often touted for molding a team filled with freshmen and
sophomores into title contenders, UCLA coach Ben Howland has always
been quick to point out that Hollins and Bozeman have brought
stability to this year’s club.

The coach remained optimistic about the future of his program,
but was saddened to see Hollins and Bozeman finish their careers on
a such a deflating loss.

“A special thought to our four seniors, Cedric Bozeman,
Michael Fey, Ryan Hollins and Janou Rubin,” Howland said.

“They’ve just been terrific helping build this
program because of their work ethic, attitude, commitment to team
first. So I’m really proud of those seniors in
particular,”

While the Bruins walked out of the RCA Dome on the wrong end of
the scoreboard on Monday, the 2005-2006 season will also be
remembered as one that Hollins and Bozeman used to right the ship
of their careers.

“(Hollins) worked so hard,” Farmar said. “He
battled through so much adversity in his career. I’m just
happy to be on his team and get him this far.”

FARMAR’S FUTURE: Earlier in the year,
Farmar said he would delay any possible decision regarding his
future for after the season. That topic wasn’t among his
chief concerns following the Bruins’ loss on Monday.

“I’m not thinking about that,” Farmar said.
“I’m just trying to stay with my family, my Bruin
family.”

PROUD PROMISES: Following the game on Monday,
some Bruins vowed they’d be in the national championship game
next year. Many of Florida’s players pledged the same thing.
UCLA freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made his promise a bit more
specific.

“I will be a better shooter next year,” Mbah a Moute
said. “I promise you that.”

After leading UCLA in scoring in the team’s 59-45 victory
over LSU in the Final Four, Mbah a Moute failed to tally a point
until midway through the second half Monday night.

The freshman, who was close to being a 50 percent 3-point
shooter in high school, missed both of his uncontested 3-point
shots Monday night as well as several mid-range jumpers.

STAGGERED STEPS: Howland did not feel that UCLA
was unable to succeed on what he termed as “four big
steps” to beating Florida. But the coach thought his team
stumbled in blocking out Floridas big men in the post.

“Especially in the first half, they had some second-chance
opportunities,” Howland said. “We got beat a couple
out-of-bounds plays early for layups. A lot of mistakes.”

DRIBBLERS: Florida’s 16-point margin of
victory was the largest margin in the national championship game
since Duke’s 20-point win over Michigan in 1992. … Both of
UCLA’s losses in the national championship have come in
Indianapolis. … This was the first time in four attempts that an
SEC team defeated a Pac-10 team for the national championship. …
Gator Lee Humphrey hit two 3-pointers to open up the second half on
Monday. He did the same thing against George Mason in the Final
Four.

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