Gulp! Here are the Bruins

Alonso Tacanga

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CSUN Head Coach Bobby Braswell was back at The Matadome late Wednesday working with his players to accomplish more of what’s been the goal thus far this season: getting better.

Sunk deep four games below .500 and owning a five-game losing streak, the Matadors ‘- who according to Braswell somehow did get bet better during the skid – came off the floor hard-breathing and sweaty, concerned more about a newly-found problem that few ever thought could have upset them this early: confidence.

‘(Our confidence) is up and down,’ said guard Deon Tresvant. ‘It’s not where it needs to be.’

Yeah. Losing five in a row ‘- no matter how well you played ‘- will do that to you.

‘But we’re gaining it back as the games go by,’ he went on. ‘I could see it.’

Good for the Matadors. Because they will need some of it and much more if they hope to upset No. 12 UCLA and end their streak Sunday at Pauley Pavilion. The game, set to start at 7:30 p.m. will be the first between the squads since 2000. In that occasion, CSUN shocked the college basketball world by escaping with a 78-74 road win. That year they went on to advance to their first-ever ‘- and only ‘- NCAA Tournament.

This season’s supposed to be their second-ever. Everyone and their mothers have selected them to take the Big West Conference and get a berth in the Big Dance. It sure isn’t looking anything like the favoritism was warranted thus far, but CSUN doesn’t feel like it’s time to jump off the bandwagon either.

‘At the end of the day, you’re not as good as you think are and you’re not as bad as you think you are,’ Braswell said, echoing the message of the day to his team. ‘ The truth lies somewhere in between.’

The Matadors have been hearing that all season long from their coach – now more than ever. As far the Bruins go, only they know how good they think they are.

But they’re getting help with that. The country is telling them they’re 12th-best in the land.

The core of guards Darren Collison, Jrue Holliday and Josh Shipp has given the Bruins something the Matadors should know all about: expectations. UCLA’s are a hundred times bigger, though. Many anticipate their return to the Final Four for a fourth consecutive time.

UCLA is 4-1 entering tonight’s game at No. 8 Texas. CSUN is one-win-and-struggling.

‘It’s adversity,’ said Matthew Wallace, who got the start at Drexel Monday and led the team with 12 points. ‘Adversity for a good team is good. All great teams go through it.’

‘I have no doubt that we’re going to come out on top from (this funk).’

It took them some late free throws to beat modest Miami (Ohio) 64-59 Nov. 13 and lost to unranked Michigan 55-52 a week later. They bounced back by winning their next two by a combined 52 points.

‘It’s great to play UCLA at this point,’ said Tresvant, one of the more confident Matadors despite having shot only 29 percent from the field so far this season. ‘It gives us a chance to show our heart and show that we’re no walkover team.’

‘We just got to stay positive,’ Matador starting center Tremaine Townsend said. ‘We can’t bring each other down and split apart. This is where we got to come together.’

They’re struggling offensively, shooting just 41 percent; struggling in the record, just 1-5; and struggling with their own confidence. Not many are giving Northridge a chance.
It makes sense.

‘(UCLA) is a Division I school. They’re in the Pacific 10 Conference and we’re in the Big West. Most people should (not gives us a chance),’ Braswell said. ‘I’m okay with that.’

‘(But the) bottom line is: the game has to be played. We’ll show up on Sunday and we’ll see what happens.’

Gulp.

Date: Sunday
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles
Series: UCLA leads 4-1
Last Meeting: CSUN 78 @ UCLA 74
(Nov. 21, 2000)