For Lavin to be making snide remarks on GameNight last night about Ben Howland's defense-oriented, fundamentally tough style of play, and for him to call BH the 'Bill Parcells' of the Tournament, is curious, at best, and laughable, at worst.
Lavin was the guy who supposedly spearheaded our "RED ZONE" style of defense in 1995, complete with all the "no-layups" T-shirts that were floating around that year.
He got his Pac-10 Coach of the Year Award after a desperate move to a defense-first, press-reliant game.
And now Mr. STP is making jokes about BH using defense and toughness and physical play as the primary weapon for this team?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but exactly how far did Lavin's "prettier" style of basketball get us? How many times did Lav go back-to-back to the Eight, huh?
Lav made it ONCE to the Regional Final (not counting an NCAA technicality that said we were the Final Four Team for that region), with FIVE players from the '95 Championship Team, all of whom playing heavy minutes. He then made it to some Sweet 16s... and THAT'S IT.
BH got us to the Final GAME with only THREE holdovers from the Lavin era, one of whom served as bench ballast.
KNOCK ON WOOD, we are on the threshhold of a return trip to the Four, needing to get through a certainly atheltically-gifted team that may be brimming with potential pro prospects...
... but which has had its most difficulties with disciplined, efficient teams that play tenacious, disruptive man-on-man defense. Yep, sounds EXACTLY like a Lav team to me.
Me thinks the Lavin doth protest too much. Perhaps the Oily-Domed Prince of Pinstripes and Platitudes finally realizes that a Howland-coached team would drop-kick a Lavin-'coached' team out of the Tournament any day of the week, and twice on Sundays before lunch was over.
Maybe Mr. Lavin, for all his talk of defense, fundamentals, and TEACHING (laughable considering the source), is coming to the conclusion that Ben Howland is just better at all three of those things than he is.
Ol' STP spoke last night on GameNight about the three T's -- talent, time zone, and travel. In the Tournament, those 3 Ts are important.
But so are these three Ts:
(1) Toughness -- can you take a hit, whether literally while driving in the paint or figuratively when the other team starts cutting into your lead or you drop a game? Look at this whole season, folks.
(2) Tenacity -- can you keep your head and play the way you're supposed to play (especially on defense) from the opening buzzer all the way down to the closing one? See the Indiana game.
(3) TEACHING -- can your coach help your players learn and grow from their mistakes throughout a season so they can avoid them and improve from them when it counts? I think the sight of Afflalo's free throw manufacturing, Shipp's decision-making, Mata's post-defense, and Keefe's renewed hustle in the big games are all evidence of that.
Slickster calling BH the 'Bill Parcells' of college basketball?
Try to be funny if you want to, Lav, but you DO have a point.
When people think of Parcells, they think of a guy who has produced winners wherever he goes. I doubt you'll ever be getting that rep. Someone else other than Pete Dalis would have to hire you to be a coach first.
Then, of course, you'd actually have to improve a team.
And then, you know, you'd actually have to BE tough, and not just a pushover for your players.
As Jim Rome said this morning, it's no secret that a whole lot of teams end up having their WORST games of the season when they play the Bruins.
That's why I love an UGLY game as opposed to a "Pretty" one. When a team makes another one drop 10-20 percentage points on their FG shooting, or causes another 5-10 turnovers than they average, or cuts their transition ppoints in HALF, that is called making the OTHER team play UGLY.
And that can be the most beautiful sight for a UCLA fan in March...