It is still unbelievable to me that the Bruins are 15 point underdogs tonight against California Bears. Remember the Bears are playing without their dependable and solid backup pg Jorge Gutierrez, and yet they are still favored by that much over Howland's Bruins. Understandably the press up in the Bay Area are having a field day over our misery.
Jon Wilner threw in the term 'powder blue carcass' while the SF Chronicle dusted out the good ole (and original) "Bruins in Ruins" headline (also fanshotted below). Both of those pieces included couple of tidbits that I think are worth highlighting here on the frontpage. Specifically the Chronicle piece had a revealing comment from Cal head Mike Montgomery concerning the Bruin's "man-to-man defense" while Wilner pointed out an "overlooked factor" that we have just started talking about this week. I expand on them after the jump.
First, I will start with the SF Chronicle piece which included the following comments from Coach Montgomery on Bruin's defense this season:
Cal coach Mike Montgomery, whose Bears (9-4) host the Bruins (6-8) tonight, had to pause the game tape when he watched it (Bruin "defense" - BN Ed.).
"Yeah, I was surprised," Montgomery said. "His M.O. has been physical, aggressive man-to-man defense. That's been his trademark, but he hasn't been getting the level of physicality he's wanted, so ..."
Coach Montgomery is a very classy guy. He is not the kind of person who will disrespect the opponent. However, his comments are pretty poignant because he is essentially expressing his shock on how soft the Bruins are defensively this season. That is an indictment just against the current guys who have formed the core of this basketball team, but on the entire staff (and the ultimate responsibility falls here on Ben Howland) for not being able to put together a team that has the requisite talent and ability (both mental and physical) to play this kind of defense.
This brings up to the second point (which Achilles already hinted at earlier this week). Wilner points out in his piece today an "overlooked factor" in current state of UCLA basketball (emphasis added):
An overlooked factor in UCLA's backslide is the three-year-old departure of former assistant Kerry Keating.
Now the head coach at Santa Clara, Keating was a superb recruiter for the Bruins — he pushed for them to sign Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook, who became first-round draft picks — and played a key role in player-coach relations
Well "player-coach relations" is certainly an issue now on BN. It's something we are going to have to keep an eye on rest of this season. I have a feeling this issue is only going to intensify if the season turns out to be long death-march ending in an unacceptable record in the win-loss column.