Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/30/2007 05:07:00 PM
The Spoils of NCAA Stardom
ATLANTA -- If you were to get a few minutes alone with UCLA's Lorenzo Mata on the day before the Final Four, what would you ask him? How he's going to guard Joakim Noah and Al Horford on Saturday night? How well he defended Kansas' big men in the Elite Eight? Both decent questions, but ...
I asked him about the picture. I mean, it was my Blogging duty to ask him about the picture. By the picture, I mean the now-famous shot of Mata -- who's clearly not the most suave Bruin -- lounging poolside with members of the UCLA dance team. He's wearing a flat-brimmed Dodgers hat and a hilarious half-grin, and they the dancers are all in bikinis. I linked to it in my Power Rankings back in December, having found it on both Bruins Nation and the Insomniac's Lounge, which called it "A Moment of Inspiration from Lorenzo Mata." I covered the Bruins early in the season for a magazine piece on Darren Collison, but hadn't had a chance to get back with them 'til now. Hence the fact-finding delay.
On Saturday, Mata confirmed that the pic was, in fact, taken during UCLA's successful run through the Maui Invitational in November. "I got a lot of stuff" -- and by stuff, I think he meant crap -- "for that, but it's a great picture," Mata said.
And who gave him the most grief? None other than head coach Ben Howland. "Coach Howland found out about it and somebody printed it out for him," Mata said. "He brought it into practice one day, and called Mike [Roll] and some of the other players over and said, 'Look at this!' -- and they all got a laugh out of it."
I asked Mata if he had ever been asked to autograph a copy of the photo. "No," he said, "but I wanted the girls to autograph it for me."