It took Wooden years to get it right. It may take CBH just as long. I know no one works harder than he does or bleeds Bruin Blue more than him, but even he is subject to criticism. And, frankly, I can't take it anymore. So here goes.
Let's face it, CBH's offense has pretty much stunk ever since he came to UCLA. Not only has it not been Woodenesque, it has normally been pretty ugly. But with the record of success that he has compiled who can rightly complain, even if his success has been despite his lousy offense?
Well, after tonight we can complain. Oh, I know his offense is normally very efficient. The stats prove it. But efficiency and effectiveness are two different things. Yes, when the score is in the low 60s he can keep up with a slow down, take the air out of the ball offense. He can win a lot of games with it, get to final fours with a tremendous defense, but he will never win the Big Enchilada when he goes up against really talented teams that actually play basketball at tournament time IMO.
I was reminded of this tonight in the Portland game. Not only was it one of the worst performances in the history of UCLA basketball, not only was it one of the worst coaching jobs by any coach I have ever seen at any level in any sport, it was very reminiscent of the way we have been punked in all of our final four appearances and even Villanova in the second round last year under CBH. Only this time it wasn't Memphis or Florida. It was just a well coached mid-Major team playing essentially Mike Montgomery Stanford Basketball from the 1990s. The loss, in fact, was so Lavinesque that for awhile I thought Steve had left the color booth and taken over CBH's body.
I think it is the understatement of the year to say that CBH has not adapted his coaching to his players yet. I'm very sure he sees that as well after the Portland disaster. My fear is that he will decide his team is so bad that he will follow Lavin's brilliant on air suggestion to play even "muckier" basketball, that is, to play an even uglier Big East style slowdown style.
I hope that's not true. I really think that's the wrong answer. As much as he might like the style, we do not have the makings of a Big East power basketball team with big guards, power forwards or a dominating big man. It doesn't have the personnel to shut people down on defense alone. For better or worse we're a generally athletic, but slight team with potentially good shooters and cutters. Kind of like Wooden's earlier champion teams but of course without a Goodrich or Hazard, duh. I would love to see a return to the Wooden staples of a high post offense and a zone press. It may not work, of course, but it's certainly worth a try. Some of our players might actually develop quite well if they were given a chance to fly. Could we be any worse? I don't think that's possible.
I'm left to wonder just how good the team with Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison and Luc Richard, all excellent NBA players now, as well as Mata and Aboya and Shipp, could have been if CBH had let them spread their legs under his tutelage instead of putting the governor on their gas pedal every time they tried to speed things up. Can you believe a team with those NBA players got creamed in the final four by a team with really just one great player, Derrick Rose? Well they did, big time because IMO CBH does not let his players play on offense. He shackles them.
More than winning games this year I would like to see if CBH can actually run an offense that puts points on the board. They say he did that at Northern Arizona. Can't he do it here?