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Bruins don’t mind ugly Big East style

PHILADELPHIA – Villanova’s tough, physical approach suits UCLA just fine.

The Bruins (26-8) won’t be afraid to mix it up with the third-seeded Wildcats (27-7) in the second round of the East Regional at 10:05 a.m. Saturday.

This matchup doesn’t figure to be a high-scoring affair. Both teams play strong defense and neither cares about style points.

“We’re at the point in the season where it doesn’t matter how you can win if you get a win,” UCLA’s Josh Shipp said Friday. “If it’s an ugly game and we win, we’re fine with that.”

Just because Villanova comes from the gritty Big East Conference doesn’t automatically make the Wildcats tougher than their glitzy Pac-10 opponent. UCLA coach Ben Howland coached in the Big East for four seasons at Pittsburgh, so he took that defense-first mentality to Westwood.

That’s one reason why the Bruins have reached the Final Four three straight years. They’re willing to get down and dirty and do whatever it takes to win games.

“Just winning ugly,” point guard Darren Collison said. “Coach Howland, he’s a coach from the Big East. It kind of tends to rub off on us. No matter how you win, everybody is going to talk about the results. We understand they like to play ugly. But we won some games playing ugly as well.”

If you scratch the names off those true blue and gold jerseys and just watch the Bruins play, you might confuse them with Connecticut, Pitt or another one of those Big East bruisers.

“There’s a respect for the toughness that it takes to be a Big East basketball player that we take a lot of pride in,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.


PORTLAND, Ore. – No way Justin Dentmon is overwhelmed with being one step from the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. He’s overcome far too much for that.

“His story is as remarkable as anyone’s,” said Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar, whose team meets Purdue at 2:40 p.m. Saturday.

Washington’s 23-year-old senior and second-leading scorer grew up in Carbondale, Ill., without knowing his troubled father. He did not meet him until Dentmon was a teenager and the man was in jail. He overcame living without money.

His mother, Stephanie Dentmon, gave birth to him when she was 13. He is still so close to his legal guardian, Charlie Jones, that the Illinois state trooper was in Seattle two weeks ago to be with Dentmon and his mom for his final home game at UW.

Dentmon also overcame a learning disability that initially made him ineligible to attend Illinois State, as he’d signed to do while bypassing interest from current Purdue coach Matt Painter and hometown Southern Illinois. He went to prep school in Massachusetts to get his grades high enough to qualify.

The Associated Press

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This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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