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Welcome to the Daily Bruin’s live blog of the biggest basketball campout we’ve seen on campus in a long time. The West side of Pauley Pavilion is flooded with tents and plenty of extracurricular activities. Come out and enjoy the atmosphere while you can. If you can’t, we’ll be posting updates and talking with the good people out here throughout the night and morning.

10 a.m.

Poof.

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Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

9:30 a.m.

Jay Bilas stopped to talk to the Daily Bruin after College GameDay finished filming in the morning. As a former college player, an analyst and a working lawyer, Bilas brought his insights from a variety of fields to talk about UCLA and the NCAA as a whole. As if that wasn’t enough hard work, Bilas also found time to tweet while GameDay was filming.

Daily Bruin: What did you think about GameDay in Pauley? Our fans sometimes have a bad rap, but they showed up today.

Jay Bilas: It was awesome. I wouldn’t get up that early. They’re paying me and I don’t want to get up that early! It was great.

DB: What are your thoughts on the game tonight?

JB: It’s got a chance to be a great game because both teams need to win. For UCLA, they’re playing for a regular-season championship and Arizona is trying to get back into it. They let it get away, especially with that loss at Southern Cal, giving up 61 percent (shooting). They’ve got to shore their defense up and play better defense.

It’s one of those games where both teams are young in spots. You never know how youth is going to react. UCLA is getting better and better offensively and their defense has improved a little bit, so I think they’ve got a great shot to win.

DB: This is happening nationally, and in the Pac-12, where teams are beating up on each other. Is it the case that every team is strong or every team is weak?

JB: Everybody’s weak. You can see by looking at it. It’s not like we’re seeing the middle rising up to be as good as the best team. There’s nobody dominant. If you look at some of the numbers, like UCLA is better offensively than defensively. They’re last in the league in rebounding. Not middle, they’re last. So everybody’s flawed.

DB: Regarding the NCAA, we had the issue with Shabazz Muhammad’s investigation happen here earlier in the year and it kind of seemed like it was cracking the NCAA’s foundation. Now we have what happened in Miami. Is it fair to start losing faith in the NCAA at this point to enforce its ideals?

JB: Yes. I think if you have any faith in the NCAA right now to run its own shop, and that its enforcement model is fair or trustworthy, you’re incredibly naive or not very bright. People have been complaining to the NCAA about the enforcement model for years and years and they don’t listen. They just say that the members like it, they voted on all this stuff, therefore it’s reasonable and right. It’s not been reasonable, it’s not been right. It’s not just the rules, it’s the way the rules are enforced.

Their method of adjudicating matters, you’re rolling the dice. It’s a different result every time. You have nothing you can rely upon. It’s not only unfair, it’s untrustworthy. That’s been proven now. It’s not somebody talking saying, ‘Well, you got your hand caught in the cookie jar and now you’re complaining.’ It’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s a system that’s not only unworkable, it’s corrupt.

(What happened in Miami) is no small matter –  to abuse a federal bankruptcy process, to be able to use the subpoena power of the court and to employ an officer of the court to essentially abuse the process. (The NCAA) hired Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer, they paid her to notice depositions that didn’t need to be noticed, that had nothing to do with the bankruptcy proceeding –  that’s abuse of process. For them to lay it off on one person, or just the investigators, it’s just ridiculous, and it’s laughable. For (NCAA President) Mark Emmert, for (Chief Operating Officer) Jim Isch, for (Vice President of Legal Affairs) Donald Remy, to pretend like they didn’t know, it doesn’t pass the straight face test. That would never be allowed at any school. Now we see the NCAA living by a different standard than they enforce.

DB: What could happen? Could someone like Dan Guerrero and a bunch of athletic directors start a revolt?

JB: Of the people that I’ve spoken to – and I’ve spoken to a number of administrators across the country – I’ve not heard one person offer support for the leadership of the NCAA. Not one. That’s not something that they say publicly. It’s ultimately going to be up to the executive council, that group of presidents that Emmert answers to. Look, his leadership has been compromised. His credibility has been compromised and is at zero. The association’s credibility is at zero. Even though there are really good people there and not everything they do is wrong, in key areas, especially Emmert’s ability to run his own office, he’s an absentee president whose own employees don’t trust him. If I were on that presidents council, he wouldn’t remain. I’m on record as saying that. It’s not a pleasant thing to say, but that’s how I feel. If he does remain, I think the NCAA is taking a lot of steps back in trying to move forward.

DB: Going back on the court, what do you think of Shabazz?

JB: He’s been terrific. I wrote something on him the other day, the more I watch him, the better I like him. He’s really improved his catch-and-shoot. If he gets his feet set and squares his body, he’s a really good shooter. If you make him put it on the floor, he’s not as good.

DB: Does he need to be able to create his own shot?

JB: You don’t really need to do that right now. He’s very good in transition, and when they get in the half-court offense, then (UCLA) will run something for him. They run a lot of staggers, lot of different actions. He can post, he can drive it, he’s got a good little floater, he’s improving defensively, really good body, strong –  he’s a really good prospect. What is he, 19? Nineteen years old. He’s third in the league in scoring, he’s one of the top 3-point percentage shooters in league play. He’s a really good player.

DB: Scouts are calling into question his playmaking ability and his defense. What do you think about those two traits?

JB: I don’t know a lot of freshmen that are really good defenders. That’s something he could improve on, though. He’s got all the tools. If you’re looking at him as the No. 1 pick now I think that’s a stretch. There are others that I like a little bit better. I think in the long run, he’s got a chance to be a really productive NBA player. Right now, that doesn’t really matter a whole lot because he can’t go until the draft. It’s just so hard now when you’re a player, to listen to everyone talk about this stuff. It’s like when you’re dating somebody, people talk about getting married. That’s not for right now, that’s for a later time. If he stays thinking about right now, he’ll be all right.

DB: Lastly, Ben Howland’s job status has been called into question a lot this year. Is that fair?

I think it’s stupid. Absolutely stupid. If the people here, who love UCLA, want to destabilize a really good situation, they’re doing a good job. Ben Howland’s gone to three Final Fours. The rest of the Pac-12 coaches combined have gone to one. One. ‘Oh, I don’t like his style.’ Well, they’re leading the league in scoring. So if you don’t like his style, you don’t like anybody in the league.

There’s been a high standard set here, and there’s some unreasonableness that goes along with that. Doesn’t matter if you’re bald like me or your hair is red or what. If you want to be reasonable, then I think this kind of talk is stupid.

Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

8:59 a.m.

The show closes with both Digger Phelps and Jalen Rose picking UCLA to beat Arizona tonight. Now get some sleep, hooligans!

Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff

8:49 a.m.

UCLA players Larry Drew II and Kyle Anderson join the fun by playing “Know Your Teammate” hosted by Rece Davis, a slightly less romantic, basketball-centric version of “The Newlywed Game.”

Suffice it to say, they don’t know each other well. They both came away scoreless. Can you blame them? It’s each of their first years playing for UCLA.

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- Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff

8:17 a.m.

I walked through the madness that was the Arizona campout earlier this morning sometime around 12:30 to give you a taste of what it was like out there. Time to play “Spot your friends doing embarrassing things!” Somehow, the audio component was lost. We’re just as confused as you are.

- Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff

8:09 a.m.

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero is in the house. Not currently in front of a camera or Harlem Shaking.

- Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff

7:45 a.m.

Worth noting that The Den is handing out priority passes for lower-level seating only after the conclusion of GameDay’s taping. Looks like energy is declining in the crowd, some members of which are just waiting to get those passes and get out of here. Not for about another hour-plus, folks.

Rece Davis is still trying to get the crowd pumped up. He won’t give up without a fight.

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

7:35 a.m.

It’s not too early for UCLA coach Ben Howland. He hopped on the GameDay set for a sit-down interview but was forced to endure footage of his team’s November loss to Cal Poly.

He then greeted students by saying, “Some of you look a little hungover from last night.” He’s not wrong.

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- Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff

7:30 a.m.

Some shots from the crowd…

 

 

 

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

7:20 a.m.

Best signs in the crowd today:

“Arizona wasn’t even my safety school”

“Solomon Hill uses MySpace” (A retort to “Shabazz likes Nickelback”?)

“The Wildcats are … Erroneous Simpering Pitiful Nincompoops.”

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

7:11 a.m.

IMPORTANT: Digger Phelps’ tie-lighter color of choice today: orange. That pick gets the Court Visions stamp of approval.

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

7:05 a.m.

GameDay is rolling. Check out how television magic makes the crowd look larger and much more awesome.

On ESPN:

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Inside Pauley:

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- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

6:50 a.m.

Just a little while until GameDay starts rolling live from Pauley Pavilion. Word is that the atmosphere is already better than 2008′s. Students are not short on energy after a raging all-nighter.

Here’s the foursome that has everybody buzzing: (from left to right) Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Digger Phelps and noted rap aficionado Jay Bilas.

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- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

6:20 a.m.

Digger Phelps: Still a total wimp.

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Read more about Digger and his history with UCLA in our chat with him below.

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

6:10 a.m.

Jalen Rose is the first out of the tunnel. Untucked shirt, but he doesn’t care. (It was just to shoot a bit for a sketch-type piece running later.)

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- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

6 a.m.

Like some of the people at the campout, we blacked out during the night. (If you’re looking for an excuse, there were some WiFi and power issues. Sorry if you were tuned in. But we’re guessing you weren’t.)

The campout funneled inside Pauley Pavilion at 5 a.m. and students and fans have been here ever since. Word is the first live takes of ESPN’s College GameDay won’t start until 7 a.m., so everyone has had some time to kill.

 

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

11:00 p.m.

Forget everything you think you know about hoops coach Ben Howland. Would an out-of-touch guy be playing beer pong among the students?

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Courtesy of Mitch Siam

Like we said, Shabazz got in on the fun too. Just like in games, there was no way he was passing up this shot.

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Courtesy of Mitch Siam

Neither Howland nor Muhammad drank any beer.

- Ryan Menezes and Chris Nguyen, Bruin Sports senior staff

10:30 p.m.

Two UCPD officers just strolled through the campout area, past beer cans strewn about the place and plenty of open containers of alcohol. They didn’t do anything. Looks like this isn’t a “dry campus” for tonight.

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

10:05 p.m.

Before Digger Phelps was a college basketball analyst for ESPN, he was the head coach at Notre Dame from 1971 to 1991. He is remembered by UCLA fans for busting the 88-game win streak of Bill Walton’s Bruins in 1974.

He – along with the rest of ESPN’s College GameDay crew – returned to Westwood this weekend for the first time since 2008 to cover UCLA’s matchup with No. 11 Arizona tomorrow. Phelps and GameDay host Rece Davis sat down with the Daily Bruin for a few minutes on Friday. We bring you the highlights below.

Digger Phelps

On coming back to UCLA
“Do you know why I want to come back? Because the tradition still goes on. When the seniors pull out those signs for the visiting teams and the coach, they flip it around and it says, ‘Digger’s a wimp.’ That was born in 1978. We had a great relationship between Notre Dame and UCLA for years and Coach Wooden was from South Bend. He loved South Bend and had a lot of friends back there. We were really close – not while we coached, but after. I would call him every year on his birthday and talk to him. I would come out with the student section and they would start booing me. I would put my hands up to my ears like, ‘You’re not loud enough,’ and go back in the locker room. I would wait for Wooden to walk out and I would put my arm around him. They would start cheering and I would wave. They would go, ‘No, no, no. Not you Digger!’ The other trick I used to do is I would stand up and they had a cheer that went, ‘Sit down Digger!’ They would focus on me and all of a sudden, UCLA would be shooting a one-and-one. As soon as the foul happened, I would stand up and they would start to chant, ‘Sit down Digger.’ Then the kid would miss the free throw for UCLA and they would start screaming and yelling at me for standing up. We had a great love-hate relationship.”

On reminding Wooden of the record between the two coaches 
“We never brought that up. When he got in his 90s and I would call him on his birthday, I would just say, ‘How’s your health?’ We would just talk. Once it was over, it was over. Nobody will ever duplicate what he did.”

On the current status of UCLA’s program
“Ben Howland and I have been friends for years. If Larry Drew can run the team with consistency, I love Anderson and Shabazz up front. They have scorers. They need to focus on being physical defensively and controlling the boards. This is a payback game. They need to come out and jump on Arizona like they did in Tucson.”

On what he sees UCLA doing in the NCAA Tournament
“The Pac-12 is going to be interesting. With they way they’ve been playing, they’re going to get in the tournament. I don’t care who you are this year. It just matters who’s in their bracket.”

On Ben Howland
“Ben’s a great guy. When you have freshmen, you have to be patient. I don’t care about Cal Poly. Who knows what went on back in November? What are you today? If this team gets hot, everybody will be on the bandwagon. Look at Cal. Six straight wins. I don’t want to play them in the first round.”

On Larry Drew II
“He was going through an identity crisis at (the University of North Carolina) and Kendall Marshall was behind him. You’ve seen what he can do in key situations. He can score when you need it but he can also find guys to get them points and he’s a true point guard. To me, a true point guard is a guy that runs the team with intelligence and gets assists. I don’t care about scoring. The points come to the other guys.”

On new Pauley
“I want the banners on the sides of the arena. It’s got to go back to that. When you have 11 national championships, don’t hide them in the ceiling where you can’t see them because the blue blends in with the ceiling. I’m superstitious, but they should have kept Wooden’s seats where they were. That was the tradition at Pauley. I got confused when I saw that today.”

On tomorrow
“They’ll boo me. They better. ‘Digger’s a wimp.’ I have to hear it. I told the cheerleaders on the bus that I’m old enough to be your grandfather.”

Rece Davis

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On the GameDay atmosphere this weekend
“It was really cool. We see people camping out, we just don’t see them camping out with swimsuits in kiddie pools. I got invited to take a dip in the pool after I change out of my suit.”

On the difference between this year’s visit and 2008′s visit
“Certainly the team was more highly regarded at that time. Not that this team can’t win, it certainly can. You knew that team had the potential of winning a national championship with Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. That was when people were talking about how far Kevin could throw a chest pass. Jay Bilas and I went to practice and Kevin started doing it after practice. You don’t realize how hard it is to throw a chest pass that far. He’s going 94 feet like it’s nothing. They waxed Arizona pretty good that night. It’s a great place and there are so many legends of the game that played at UCLA. We like coming to places that appreciate the history of the game.”

On this game losing luster since the matchup was announced in August
“Honestly, you thought both teams would be very highly ranked, but that happens every year. It’s sort of the nature of the sport. We’ve had a great schedule this year. A few years ago, we had No. 1 v. No. 2 with Memphis and Tennessee. We’ll take that good luck all day long but the games are still important regardless of if the teams are highly ranked because both of these teams are pursuing championships. Once you get to March, it really doesn’t matter where you’re ranked anyway. You want to win your conference championship, win your conference tournament and then you play for the big one. This is the most significant month of the season because you’re trying to accomplish something after all the work you’ve put in.”

On whether he senses teams getting more pumped up
“Hopefully, there’s a little more energy surrounding it. I hope they enjoy it because we want to showcase their program. When we have huge crowds come out, it would be great if it was just to see our show and we hope they enjoy our show but I know that 15,000 people came to Rupp Arena last week because they want to show off that they’re proud of Kentucky basketball. Whoever gets up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning on a beautiful Saturday after a long, hopefully rigorous academic week, that’s great. Sure, they want to be part of the show but they want to showcase UCLA and that they’re proud of their school and their basketball team.”

On teams’ tournament fates
“They’re both getting in. How they finish will determine their seed. They’re both in a pool of teams that I wouldn’t cast as the group most likely to go to the Final Four, but given their talent level, if they play at the top of their abilities on the right night, it could happen. They aren’t teams that are so devoid of talent that they couldn’t make it to the Final Four. I think they could. Are they most likely to do it? I don’t think so, but they’re both in that next tier of teams that would be capable of doing it in my judgement. When you have a guy that can score like Shabazz can, when you have a couple other talented freshmen, when you have a veteran point guard who wants to make his last go-around memorable and lasting, when you have a coach who’s navigated it, the formula is pretty good. That wouldn’t shock me.”

Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff


9:05 p.m.

Sitting out here, it’s almost easy to forget that there’s an actual game tomorrow. UCLA faces off with No. 11 Arizona at 6 p.m. in ESPN’s prime time game of the day.

Both Arizona and UCLA practiced in Pauley today. After the Bruins were done, players and staffers came out with 40 Domino’s pizzas to hand out to the fans, creating quite the stir.

 

Shabazz Muhammad even playfully got in on some beer pong. No word on if his sweet lefty stroke was on the mark, but he does have pink eye, so those balls better have been sanitized in water afterward.

Here’s Tony Parker, a true man of the people, shooting some (virtual) hoop. He’s the large one on the left, in case you couldn’t tell.

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- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff

8:50 p.m.

Students got an early start today, with many Bruins showing up as early as noon, while the sun was still shining bright.

The reason for the excitement? ESPN’s College GameDay is in town. The folks from the Worldwide Leader in Sports spent the afternoon filming bits for their show that will run tomorrow.

 

Major props for the “Bilas is the Trillest!!!” sign. Otherwise, UCLA’s sign game needs some work.

Speaking of Jay Bilas, he’ll be here tomorrow morning, along with host Rece Davis, former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps and former NBA swingman/Fab Fiver/generally great storyteller Jalen Rose. We chatted with Davis and Phelps, the latter having a rich history with UCLA. Look out for those on the blog soon.

- Ryan Menezes, Bruin Sports senior staff 

Clarification: Howland and Muhammad did not drink beer while playing beer pong among students. Also, the photos of Howland and Muhammad were courtesy of Mitch Siam.