Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
There are some themes running through the basketball thread all of which deal with the question as to whether CBH is the right man for our job.
Some talk of replacing CBH if he does not succeed. Some act as though he is a dinosaur whose style and time have passed. And, still others, posit that he will leave on his own for the NBA so we should line up a replacement. (Don Mclean? I love Donny Mac. But, really? Do you think he'd support the idea of replacing the Caretaker?)
More insidious is the allegation that he cannot recruit players because no one wants to play his "style" of basketball.
Not one of these themes accurately reflects either CBH's history here, or the reality of who he is as a man and coach.
First and foremost, no one in his or her right mind should be talking about replacing the nation's best "teaching coach" and perhaps the man whose personal values most resemble Coach's. He is called The Caretaker for a reason. He has brought us back, the right way. This is UCLA. We win championships, in all sports, with honor and integrity. There is no one in the world in whose hands I'd trust this program more than CBH. Leaving for the NBA? CBH has said that the UCLA job is his dream job. Don't think he's had opportunities to jump to the NBA or to other schools, for a lot more money? There have been rumors that he has and he didn't. Now, let's revisit history a bit. When CBH was hired to replace the impostor, there were segments that wailed and whined that we had hired the wrong man. That his style of basketball -- grind it out D and low-scoring victories -- was boring. That this was the west coast and we demanded run-and-gun, show time basketball -- or we would be bored.
(Sound familiar. That wailing can be seen in several threads on BN. "Let the kids run!" is the battle cry. For those with any sense of history, that is exactly what the lizard did -- as he ran the program into the ground.)
As CBH put his system into place, two things happened.
We started to win.
AND, people began to appreciate the beauty of well played D. And, as our D got better, and our rebounding stronger, we got to run in transition and score.
Just as classical music is an acquired taste for those who started with rap or rock, fine D is an acquired taste. And, those who took the time to learn how to see it learned to appreciate it.
And, more people began to appreciate it when we started winning and made our "3 straight" run. Then, the comments in the threads were about our lock down D and how great it was. These kids didn't come here playing that kind of D. They bought in, learned it, and played it -- to our benefit and theirs.
You know who else appreciated it? The NBA coaches who inherited the kids CBH trained. The lunch bucket kids who were never projected -- out of high school -- to be first rounders, became first rounders. And, starters. Why? Because they were fundamentally sound and could play D and rebound. Think the NBA doesn't care about D so that recruits shouldn't? Read what the coaches of our first rounders are saying. And,read how much credit these NBA coaches are giving CBH for his work.
Let's talk about recruiting a bit. If you are a hot shit high school player -- one that can run and gun -- and you think you will be in the NBA soon, where should you go to college?
Probably a place like UCLA where you can round out your game and learn to play D.
If you're the parent of a hot shit kid, where should you advise him to go? Probably to a school like UCLA and a coach like Howland. And, because both UCLA and Howland are unique, you would send your kid to UCLA.
That's how KL came into our picture. This was the hot shit kid of his time. His parents and family friends knew more about basketball than most. And, they had their heads on straight. They were not living through their kid or interfering with his basketball education. I'm sure they rankled as he sat on the bench during early crunch times -- but they kept their mouths shut and watched as he quickly developed into the player he is now. Why did he come to UCLA, to learn lock down D -- which was the missing component in his high school game.
Every once in a while there will be kids who don't fit -- whose expectations or those of their parents -- are not IMMEDIATELY met by our system. That happens. (I changed majors at UCLA several times. I did not blame the departments I left -- I just realized I belonged elsewhere. And, bless my parents, they did not go to the department chairs and demand curriculum reform so that I could learn the disciplines my way.) And, notice that I said IMMEDIATELY. I like DG. I like his passion. But, he is a kid and apparently, like many kids (and some of us adults) lacks patience and has some sense of entitlement. If he does not want to be here. Fine. Not everyone should. But, I sure wish he had decided that at the end of last year and that it didn't appear that one of his main reasons for leaving was that we (or as his parents put it "they") were losing games.
All that said, I really don't hold CBH accountable, in any way, for DG. Not for recruiting him, not for his patience in trying to work things out with him, not for his refusal to change his system to accommodate this "gifted" player (he didn't do that for KL or anyone else), and not for ultimately letting go in a most graceful way.
I just wanted to add perspective. Some times, I think that the comments in that thread are made by people with no institutional history. And, then I realize that that's probably true. They may not have been around during the times that we cite to give historical dimension. I think it a Geezer's responsibility, especially one who was around when the first banners were hoisted, to hold a long-term perspective and, once in a while, to share it.