Pimping Sunshine? My thoughts on this UCLA basketball team

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

Long time lurker, first time poster.  I've been following this blog since its very nascent stages, and am very impressed with the growth and the always increasing quality of the discussion here.  I have many times thought that I should actually create an account here and begin to contribute to the discussion myself, but for whatever reason I decided to maintain my lurker status.  I'm not sure what has sparked this sudden change of heart, but I recently decided to create an account, and so here I am. 

Bruins Nation has consistently been one of the first places I look every morning when I get to work, and have always appreciated the roundups that Nestor puts together every morning, using them as a sort of "one stop shop" for all things Bruin on the football and basketball fronts.  It certainly would have been much easier to join the discussion in the recent good ol' days of Bruin basketball, when CBH could (almost) do no wrong.  I think the obvious frustration that we all feel towards the current state of the basketball program has spurred my sudden interest to let my voice be heard. 

Just so you all know, I have been a die hard UCLA fan for almost my entire life, ever since my much older brother left the nest to go to school there back in 1983.  I am a UCLA alumnus (Class of '99) and a graduate of NYU law school (only mentioned because I know so many of the regular contributors here are card carrying members of the bar).  So while I obviously missed the true glory days that the Geezers here might have enjoyed, I followed with baited breath all of the excellent teams of the 90's (I was heartbroken when Donny Mac's team lost to the chair thrower in the Elite Eight), and it killed me that I was just a senior in high school when the riots broke out in Westwood in '95.  Sadly, I was in school for the beginning of CHP's reign of terror (BTW, thanks to the lexicon, I finally understand what that and CTS actually mean).  So please do not take me as a bandwagoner, or apologist, or other derogatory term heaped upon those who are not deemed by BN to truly bleed blue and gold.

So while it makes me sick to my stomach to watch these guys play from time to time, and I too cannot wait for Senior Day so I never have to watch Rago wear the 4 letters again, it's kind of a downer that I feel like pimping sunshine may be met with disdain.  These are still our Bruins, and I want to be someone who will stand behind them during this terrible time.  CBH has done a wonderful job considering the circumstances, and I defy anyone who wants to start planting the seeds that he is not the right man for the job.  He, along with many coaches around the country, was burned by what has turned out to be an awful 2008 recruiting class.  Outside of Brandon Jennings (Europe) and Tyreke Evans (played for a scumbag), there were no truly dominant, difference making players in that class.  The fact that UCLA had the #1 class that year just means it hurt us a bit more than everyone else.  Look at the tough time UNC is going through.  Coincidence?  I would think not.  Add in the defections to the NBA, and this UCLA team has very little talent.  I know this has all been discussed ad infinitum, but I just wanted to say it again.  I am not saying CBH is merely a victim, and that neither he nor the team are deserving of criticism, but I do want to bring up and emphasize some of the positives, as few as there may be.

TH and RN have been a revelation.  The energy and passion that these kids play with makes games that are painful to watch at least bearable.  In the offseason, many people thought that RN was behind BL and MM in terms of his ability to contribute right away, but when I think back to when I would watch clips of all of these kids playing HS ball, RN was the guy I was most excited to see this year.  "Rage" is the most appropriate nickname for this kid, and I am tickled that he is seeing the floor and showing what he can do.  Yeah, he could hit some more free throws for sure, but damn if I don't want that ball in his hands every possession.

This team truly is coming together.  Even watching it on TV you can see it, as long as you want to.  The bench is into it.  Earlier in the year, you could see BL, MM and AS just sort of sitting there staring off into space.  Now they show these guys and they are jumping out of their chairs to root their boys on.  I like to see that, even if they aren't the successful team in terms of wins and losses that we have become accustomed to seeing.  And even when it's obvious to everyone that Ragovic cannot play defense worth a donkey's you know what, his teammates are not getting down on him.  Imagine what he would play like if they did?

This brings me to the larger discussion on Ragovic... I really don't like him.  I don't.  I consistently pause the game on TV and replay bits to show my wife what he does wrong.  It probably annoys her more than anything because it makes watching the game take that much longer.  All that said, I think DCBruins just said it best in his FanPost

"this team needs him and he has done okay within that parameter." 

CBH doesn't have a choice.  At one point I was convinced that Dragovic has some dirty little secret about CBH that he is parlaying into playing time on the court, without any modicum of accountability.  But I truly believe that there isn't another option.  Yes, he is a defensive liability, but so would freshmen BL or MM.  I wonder if anyone has really sat down and figured out how many points per game scored by the opponent that can be directly attributed to Ragovic's sh**tyness.  I can't believe that anyone CBH puts in the lineup in his stead could be such an improvement on the defensive end that it would more than make up for what Ragovic does offensively.  He takes bad shots on occasion, and he is clearly not that efficient, but at least he presents somewhat of a threat.  He has hit some big 3 balls this year.  Was the team in situations where they needed such big shots from him precisely because of his lack of defense?  Maybe, but what other choice do we have?  No one on this team plays defense well.  Obviously if CBH had his druthers, we wouldn't be resorting to a zone, and I would agree.  BL drew comparisons in HS to Ryan Anderson for his ability to rebound and shoot the 3, and while we hope that comes to fruition at some point, it cannot be that the comparison is accurate if CBH won't play him.  In CBH I trust.  So Rago is all we have.

My fingers are crossed that we can manage a winning season despite the team's many shortcomings.  I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I won't be figuring out how far UCLA will go when I fill out my brackets this year.  It's taken me a while to write this very long winded post, so I'll just say that I agree wholeheartedly with DCBruins' conclusion regarding this season, and the job that CBH is doing.  I apologize to those who feel they have wasted their time reading this entire post, but I did not want my first contribution to be a comment where someone just thinks, "who the hell is this jack-hole and why should I care about what he has to say?"  Actually, that's probably the response I'll get to this FanPost, which I fear doesn't really say anything despite the volume of words...Dammit.  I didn't even talk about our guard play at all!

On another note, a big thanks to CRN for bringing our football program back to the discussion, and for bringing it to the cusp of great things.

Go Bruins!

<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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