Friday, March 7, 2008

Ben Howland Is a Religious Man

Please stop wasting your breath crying foul about the officiating in last night's Stanford-UCLA overtime thriller. If you can't help yourself, well, feel free to chime in here, but there's really no sense in whining about the phantom call on Lawrence "All Ball" Hill that may or may not have cost Stanford the game and a share of the Pac-10 title.

Yes, it was a bad call. Yes, it sucked. Just ask Darren Collison. The Bruins' point guard, who took over the game in the second half and sent the game into overtime with a pair of free throws following the controversial call on Hill, cleared up any confusion about whether or not he was bailed out on his drive to the basket with 2.5 seconds left.

“That was a block,” Collison said in the postgame press conference. “That was a complete block. We were fortunate to get a foul on that call. I heard it was a makeup.”

A makeup, huh? Well I heard it may have been an act of God. He is, after all, a UCLA fan, judging by what transpired shortly before that "makeup." With Stanford leading 61-59, Russell Westbrook stepped to the line for a pair of free throws. The first was a physics-defying shot, which bounced off the back iron, somehow settled on the front of the rim and ultimately fell through. Westbrook also made the second to tie the game. How ever to explain such a thing?

“The free throw by Russell was actually God answering one of my prayers from the bench,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “Trust me. And I mean that; I was there praying right on the bench, and he knocked it down. I just got the tail end of it when it bounced in.”

No wonder Stanford got hosed on the final play of regulation! I don't care if God's on Eastern Standard Time, there's no way he stopped watching after answering the first of Howland's prayers, and not even Lopez quintuplets can stop God. Perhaps Trent Johnson should do a little less cursing and a little more praying from here on out.

Despite the loss, I was very impressed with the Cardinal's showing last night. I honestly don't think it'll take a miracle for Stanford to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Maybe a rematch with UCLA in the Holy Land that is San Antonio awaits. Pray for it.

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