From the early days at Jasper High School, to the pressure of playing for Bob Knight in Assembly Hall, and now to the limelight of Los Angeles, Michael Lewis has had a little taste of everything in his basketball life.
The former Indiana Hoosiers guard has embarked on a successful coaching career with stops as an assistant at Eastern Illinois, Butler, Nebraska, and now UCLA.
In his entire life before hitting LA though, Lewis never got a glimpse into what making a Final Four would be like. That’s at least until right now.
Lewis and the Bruins are heading to the Final Four here in Downtown Indianapolis. Mick Cronin’s team might be the absolute hottest in the country at his moment.
UCLA just barely squeezed into the Tournament for a First Four match-up with Michigan State. They outlasted Tom Izzo and the Spartans in overtime.
Now with victories over BYU, Abilene Christian, Alabama, and Michigan, the Bruins are the first team from the play-in games to make the Final Four since the wild run of the 2011 VCU Rams.
And for Lewis, who called into The Dan Dakich Show Thursday, it’s pretty dang special.
“When you chase this as a player and then you coach there’s so many things that have to break right for you to put yourself in this position,” Lewis said. “Our guys have been unreal the last couple weeks winning five games and beating a number one seed.”
The wins over 2-seed Alabama and 1-seed Michigan are nothing short of impressive.
But there’s your normal 1-seed, and then there’s Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are next up on the chalkboard.
The Zags and Bruins have met up on four other occasions in the history of the two schools. That small of a number is a bit surprising. Gonzaga owns three wins, but UCLA has the most recent one. 👀
The last time they got together was December 12, 2015. Cronin was still deep in his run at Cincinnati, and Mark Few had an entirely different looking Zags team.
UCLA found a way to win in Spokane 71-66.
That mentality of finding ways to win games has now benefitted the 2021 Bruins. If they’re going to hang with Jalen Suggs and company, Lewis told DD that they can’t beat themselves.
“I like our guy’s mindset and we’re not going into this game scared,” Lewis said. “I don’t think you can get to this point in the Tournament and re-define yourself as a team. You have to say this is who we are, and we have to be a better version of who we are. We’ve been aggressive defensively and I don’t see us changing anything up against Gonzaga.”
Can 8:34 PM on Saturday get here faster?
Final Four weekend in the 317 let’s go!
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