Thoughts From A Coach On State Of UCLA Hoops Under Ben Howland

I have been coaching basketball at a high level for a long time. So I like to think I know a little bit about the game.

I have supported our Bruins since I was a kid, going to Pauley to watch my favorite players: David Greenwood, Michael Holton, and Kiki Vandeweghe. I love Bruins hoops, but not so much that I am blinded to certain things. I was going to come on here an write a long, drawn-out post on my feelings of the failings of this team, but when I started, I couldn’t do it. Why should I waste the time to do it, when the guys on the team didn’t care enough to even compete yesterday. So, instead of writing a long article and wasting my time. Here are my thoughts, with as much effort as Brickola Suckula gave yesterday.

This team is a miserable mess. CBH is doing an absolutely crappy job. He is doing the same things he has always done, but now he doesn’t have proven players like Darren and Aaron to bail his crappy offense out. In the past, the shot clock would run down, and those guys were so good they would bail us out. No more.

CBH has not inspired or motivated this team in the least. In fact, they have shut him out. Nestor’s post is right on. He has lost this team. As a basketball coach, you can’t continue to let ND and JA play the way they play, and at the same time yank young guys for young guy mistakes. If I were coaching (and I am not half the coach as CBH) those guys wouldn’t get any minutes. They are both an embarrassment to the program right now.

Our recruiting is a joke. I don’t care how many 5-star guys we have. For proof, JK was a McDonalds All-American. For the most part, those teams are a joke. They are popularity contests. You want to see good players, go watch CITY basketball games. Why aren’t we any longer getting guys in the inner city/CITY schools, or the tough SF Valley CITY schools, or the Long Beach schools. No more. UCLA used to own the inner city, whether it was private or public schools. Where are the Tyus Edney’s, the Trevor Wilson’s, the Jordan Farmar’s, the David Greenwoods, the Aaron Afflalo’s. I could go on! We used to own L.A. Don’t tell me the talent isn’t there. It is. We just don’t go after them, or we don’t value them, or they don’t value us because we don’t show the interest. Instead, we are going after the O.C. guys, the pretty boys from the pretty programs. USC is getting the inner city guys. The "tougher than crap" inner city guys who have an edge and won’t back down from anybody. They represent Los Angeles. Instead, all of those guys (Larry Drew for example) are going somewhere else where their style of play is appreciated.

Problem with our style of play. Next, our style of play as just mentioned. hey, I love defense. I flippin love defense and Howland is incredible at teaching it. However, if you watch Coach K at Duke or Coach Williams at UNC………those guys play incredible defense, and at the same time are able to have an exciting and fast-paced system on offense. Why can’t we? For as good as CBH’s defense is, it is very basic and easy to gameplan for. His defense is great for his variety of double-teams and his players usual ability to stay in front of the ball. However, his defense does not create turnovers. Never has, and probably never will. It doesn’t rely on pressure. Instead, just basic fundamentals of staying in front of your man, boxing out, etc. So you better have a sound offensive system, which we haven’t had for a few years now. The UNC’s, the Dukes, the Kansas’s……the elite programs………they get guys who want to come there because they are expected to play great, tough, physcial defense, but they also know that they will be able to play an exciting brand of fast-paced, free offense if they bust their ass at the defensive end. We don’t press at all. Only if we are down by alot. The great programs, except us, all play fullcourt defense, either man-to-man or zone press. Not us. We never create offense with our defense, even when we had the horses to do it…………WHICH IS PAINFULLY OBVIOUS THAT WE DON’T HAVE NOW. If we tried to press or play fullcourt with this team, that would be ugly. However, when we had DC, AA, and the others, we were tailor-made for that type of play.

Style of play creates the next problem: failing to attract truly stud athletes. With our style of play the truly stud athletes, the John Wall’s, the Zieglers and McCallum’s of the world don’t want to play at UCLA. Say what you will, but style matters to today’s great HS basketball players. They want to have fun, and they want to be able to play with a fast tempo. It takes a special player to commit to our system of defense, while knowing that their offensive numbers will suffer (that is NBA dollars suffering people) because they do not play pressure defense that will create easy baskets, and we don’t fastbreak unless we absolutely have it. I haven’t seen us push the ball and run secondary breaks in the past 4-5 years, even when we had the horses. We can get the Josh Smith’s of the world (and he is great) because they know that CBH will pound the ball to them and get them to where they need to be. But the elite guards, they aren’t coming because of the style of play. Farmar and AA came before this was all established, as did DC and RW. Since then, our recruitment of guards has been horrible and we have lost studs (Gaddy?? and others) because of that problem. In the HS coaches community, it is a known fact.

Lastly, I love CBH and appreciate what he has done, but his stubbornness has hurt our program. When he came to UCLA the book on him was that his teams at various stops (UCSB, NAU, PITT) all played different styles and he could adapt as a coach to anything. We haven’t seen it. It seems to me that he was so successful, that he lost his ability to adapt and see the big picture. He has lost great assistant coaches, and the others aren’t doing the same job as the coaches we lost in recruiting and gameplanning. His teams, the past two years, have failed to improve. He has also failed to develop talent and he has not shown the ability to look ahead and develop talent for the following season. Lee was under-used last year, and we are paying for it now. JA, same thing. This year, guys like Moser and Lane should be getting valuable playing time so that when we have Smith and STUD RN in the paint next year, we have viable options off the bench in key positions. Those guys should be playing as much as JA and ND. What ND has done to warrant playing time is beyond me. He is a waste of space. Roll is the only senior who should be playing, and that should probably be off the bench. He is effective there.

Hell, if I was CBH my starting five for the next game would be: 1 Lee 2- Roll 3- Moser 4-Honeycutt 5- Nelson THAT WOULD SEND A MESSAGE. JA would get 10-12 a night for Lee, Lane would be my first forward off the bench. ND and JK would get 5-10 a night in spelling the young guys. That is all they deserve. I would tell those 5 starters that this is their shot, take it or not. They would play their asses off on defense, and I would encourage them to run like gazelle’s!! Lee, Moser, Honeycutt all can run, and Nelson can trail and post, and Roll can trail and spot up. End of story. Anyone who doesn’t like it………………QUIT!!!

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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