Passion plays fuel UCLA women’s basketball March Madness surge

Earlier than the chaos of March descended on Pauley Pavilion this week, Cori Shut gathered her group at middle courtroom on the finish of apply. Throughout this time of the yr, groups that keep in mind and embrace their identification discover essentially the most success, the UCLA head coach reminded her gamers. That basis helps overcome inevitable NCAA event adversity.The Bruins, she reassured them, know their identification.“Protection, rebounding,” Shut stated, “and keenness performs.”The third class is the key to UCLA’s success. Fueled by an alternate stat sheet of sometimes intangible actions, the No. 4 seed Bruins return to the NCAA event after a one-year absence to host No. 13 seed Sacramento State on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. within the first spherical of the Greenville 1 area at Pauley Pavilion. The sport is on ESPN2 with the winner advancing to play No. 5 Oklahoma or No. 12 Portland on Monday.UCLA tracks seven ardour play classes that don’t present up in conventional field scores. The listing has grown since Shut first carried out the technique when she was employed at UCLA in 2011, and the Bruins now rely display screen assists, help field outs, costs, deflections, out-of-area rebounds, baskets scored with no motion required as soon as the go is acquired and 50-50 balls.Grad assistant Jaelynn Penn, who performed for the Bruins final season, tallies every ardour play throughout the recreation utilizing a pen, sheet of paper and clipboard on the bench. The group’s objective is 75 every recreation. UCLA’s finest performances this season are 79 in opposition to Oregon State and 78 in opposition to Oregon. The Bruins received each video games at Pauley Pavilion.“Attempting to honor all [things] coaches know that result in profitable performs that don’t present up in stat sheets,” Shut stated.Senior Charisma Osborne leads the Bruins in scoring with 15.5 factors. Ahead Emily Bessoir, UCLA’s prime rebounder at 5.8 boards per recreation, broke out within the Pac-12 event for 4 consecutive double-digit scoring efforts and was named to the all-tournament group with Osborne and freshman Kiki Rice.However in relation to ardour performs, Camryn Brown and Lina Sontag are the celebs.Brown, a senior, averages three factors per recreation. Her profession excessive in scoring is 9. She has additionally been named the group’s ardour participant of the sport 9 instances this season, tied with Sontag for the group lead.Sontag, a 6-foot-3 ahead, seems like “the fervour participant of the century,” Osborne stated. UCLA ahead Lina Sontag, left, tries to dam a shot by Arizona guard Shaina Pellington throughout a Wildcats win on Feb. 3.(Mark J. Terrill / Related Press) “In the event you see your stats they usually’re not good, typically it may be slightly irritating, however to see your ardour performs, that basically perks me up.” — Lina Sontag, UCLA ahead “Her capability to hint the ball and get deflections, particularly at her dimension, is unbelievable,” Shut stated of the freshman from Germany. “One of the best I’ve ever seen.”Sontag averages 5.1 factors and 4.2 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per recreation. Nevertheless it’s not unusual for her to notch between 15 and 18 ardour performs a recreation to win the group award. She had one recreation with 24 this season.Coaches all the time instructed Sontag, an everyday contributor on the German youth nationwide groups, that she excelled at deflecting the ball and making hustle performs, however she had by no means seen it quantified the way in which UCLA does. The concentrate on ardour performs at UCLA has introduced a special degree to her recreation.“In the event you see your stats they usually’re not good, typically it may be slightly irritating,” Sontag stated, “however to see your ardour performs, that basically perks me up.”Shut determined lengthy earlier than he obtained her first head teaching job that monitoring and celebrating small performs could be an vital pillar of her program. The Bruins acknowledge the participant who will get essentially the most ardour performs every recreation by exhibiting a spotlight reel of their performs throughout a gathering earlier than the following recreation. By sharing reward past simply the main scorer or rebounder, teammates see the worth of impacting the sport in different methods.“You have a good time the sort of teammate you need to be,” Shut stated, noting how Osborne, who’s the group’s main scorer and a possible first-round WNBA draft choose, can also be the group’s finest screener. “While you worth that and your finest gamers worth that, I actually do suppose it breeds a selflessness and a teamwork worth that everyone knows results in wins in massive moments.”Penn, who joined the Bruins as a grad switch from Indiana final season, tracks every ardour play on a chart throughout the recreation. She studies to Shut throughout each media timeout what number of the Bruins have and the coaches emphasize whether or not the group must sustain its present tempo or choose it up for the following section. When the group objective is in sight, gamers typically urge Penn to be lenient on the extra goal classes like out-of-area rebounding or 50-50 balls. She responds with a side-eye look.These numbers don’t lie.