Well looks like we have a lot on our minds tonight. The first thread on Drew Gordon's departure is all filled up. Instead of updating that post, thought it would make more sense to throw up a fresh post, where folks can continue the discussion.
LAT's David Wharton posted excerpts of Gordon's tweeter messages today:
This morning, he told his Twitter followers: "waking up early.. sleeples night.. man its tough.. lots on the mind."
That was followed by a message in the early afternoon.
"to all my supporters and fans i apreciate all you done and im sorry but i set back is a set up for a great come back!!" he wrote.
I am all for student athletes taking advantage of the tools available by social media outlets, but I just don't see the utility of posting that information on twitter.
John Wilner from the San Jose Mercury News offered up the following quotes from Gordon's family:
"The UCLA system is very methodical, and Drew is better as a transition player,'' said Gordon's mother, Shelly. "When you spend that much time and effort on something, you have to feel some gratification.
"We wanted to make the change now rather than wait and hope the situation gets better. The timing is terrible: It looks like he's leaving because they lost a bunch of games. But that's not what happened.''
Gordon told UCLA Coach Ben Howland on Monday morning, 12 hours after he scored two points and grabbed one rebound in a loss to Long Beach State. But he had been pondering the decision for weeks.
Not exactly sure what she means by "situation." [UPDATE: it looks like we now have a little better understanding of the situation, discussed more after the flip] That could only lead to more baseless speculation. Anyway, wherever Gordon ends up, we should all wish him luck tonight.
As for us, I think we are going to be all right. This is going to be a very rough season. I know we are UCLA and the sentiment is we can't have rough seasons. However, in my book Howland has earned a lot of room given what he has accomplished in Westwood.
I had a gut feeling something wasn't right with Gordon's time at UCLA. I remember two years ago when JS did a reverse dunk on a break away and then did a little showboating. Howland immediately took him out after that play and chewed him out. He didn't do much of that rest of his time at UCLA (okay he slipped a little here and there but he really cut it out a lot). He seemed to make an earnest effort to do what Coach Howland asked him to do and in return he got the mins on the court.
There is reason why Howland got emotional on senior days for DC, JS, and PAA. Those three might not have been the most athletic players Howland had in his six+ years in Westwood, but they (at least from what I was watching) seemed to give everything they had to get on the same page as their head coach. Not sure if I can say the same about Gordon after what I have seen in his appearances in a UCLA uniform
As much as I enjoyed watching Gordon's active energy on the court, I never really got the sense that he was a Howland kind of player. Something didn't seem to fit amidst all the constant yelling and screaming after every dunks, blocks, getting out of position on defense, taking wild shots not within the flow of the offense. Perhaps Howland is just too old school for kids like him or perhaps some of us are too old school to appreciate today's athletes such as Gordon (Man, am I sounding like a geezer?).
Anyway, we will wait to see more news come out on this story. My gut tells me this didn't happen all on a sudden. This had to be building up and I have to think Howland had taken all the steps internally (i.e. disciplining if necessary by having him sit out at practices) before getting to this step. Either way, I really hope the remaining sophomores from Gordon's class gets the message. It is way too early to form any kind of impression on this year's freshmen class. However, given what we have seen from Holiday, Gordon, and rest of their entering class, something seems to be off. I hope they will make an earnest effort now to learn from the examples classic Ben Ball warriors such as DC, JS, PAA, AA, LRMAM, RW set before they left Westwood. They will get their due mins on the court during games, if they listen to Ben Howland, D up, rebound, and play within their limitations on offense during practices.
For now, I believe Howland will do everything he can to get this right. He might not get it all resolved by the end of this season. However, for the long term I think he will get the program back on track. Given what he has given to UCLA for last six years, I am going to keep my faith and keep traveling with him until we finally get to our desire destination (banner number 12). As I said, it might take a while, but I am more than willing to be patient after the job Howland has done last few years in Westwood.
UPDATE (N): As pointed by number of posters in previous thread, it looks Howland indeed tried to make it work with Gordon. He suspended him for two days from practices this week:
UCLA center Drew Gordon decided to leave the team after Coach Ben Howland quietly suspended him for two days of practice this week, his parents said.
Yet instead of trying to learn his lessons, it looks like Gordon wanted to move on. The quotes from his parents as noted by poncho are telling:
"It came from the frustration of being with UCLA and losing to the teams they were losing to," Gordon's father, Ed, said. "With the talent that's on the UCLA team, there's absolutely no reason for that to happen."
Uh, really? Were these guys watching the same team as we all have been last few weeks? Ed Gordon goes on:
"His athleticism always has shined more in an up-and-down tempo," Ed Gordon said. "That's not exactly what the UCLA system is about."
Uh, yeah. He didn't really show much in terms of ability to shoot consistently beyond 5 feet. He also played frequently out of control. Anyway, whatever works for the Gordons. We wish them luck.
However, now I feel even better about the decision Howland made today. GO BRUINS.