Would the basketball season still be fun, if UCLA didn't have a great chance to win the national championship?
I was thinking about this the other day:
I think we have a good team, potentially a really good team.
But it isn't quite as good as last year's team. How could it be, we lost three NBA players in Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute. Love, in particular, was a dominant force for the team and as much as I enjoy Alfred Aboya, there is no comparing the two as centers.
But, my question is, so what?
See, I really like watching this team. In some ways, I find it more interesting and enjoyable to watch this team come together and seek to fulfull its potential. Last year's team, to me, was championship or bust. It was so good and it was coming off two straight final fours and the hype around Love was so spectacular, that it felt like anything less than a title run not going to satisfy. Just watching the games was tense -- I didn't just feel that the team could win every game, I felt like it had to win every game.
This year, it is a little bit different, there's more mystery. Coach Ben Howland is still experimenting with different combinations and he's even toying with some motion offense. We've won most of our games so far and even the losses haven't hurt that much.
So, the question is, what if the team isn't quite as good as last year and isn't predestined for a run at the championship. By the way, I'm not ruling out a championship. I'm just not sure we're one of the two or three favorites like we were last year, when us, Memphis, Carolina and a few others were clearly the best teams in tne country. We might be in the next five or ten this year, a team with a shot, but not the odds on favorite.
I'm wondering what readers think. No doubt, some will respond by telling me I'm wrong, that we are one of the odds on favorites. That's fine, but that's a different question. My question is more, is it possible that watching a young team with a lot of freshman grow and look to meet it's potential in some ways as enjoyable as a great team on a title quest -- or is a title quest the only thing that's fun about UCLA basketball and anything else is unacceptable.