Howland, early in the year, could have never imagined the blessing-in-disguise aspect of all those Bruin injuries.
With the injuries, Howland had no choice but to extend playing time to several Bruins.
"What's really been helpful for our team is the adversity we experienced early in the year really opened up a lot of opportunities for all the players on the team to step up," Howland said. "I have total confidence in all the kids that we're playing. It really makes a huge difference."
It's making a huge difference — all the way to Monday's national title game, against Florida.
Saturday, super-sub point guard Darren Collison provided six points and two assists in 21 minutes. Mata, who played wrapped in adhesive tape and a face mask, made one basket and grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
Thirteen players ended up logging time in Saturday's win and the Bruins ended up needing almost all of them.
It has been this way all year, and it probably won't change Monday.
The contribution isn't going unnoticed by the UCLA starters.
"It's been very important," Bozeman said. "In the tournament you need a bench. It's definitely helped us."