Let's get some programming details up here on the main page. The Bruins still have at least one more game left in 2009-10 basketball season. As the number 5 seed, Ben Howland's team will face No. 4 Arizona Thursday at 12 noon (PST) at Staples Center. The obvious positive here is many of us will not have to watch this game during work hours. Bruins may have a shot against the Wildcats given how they played against them in Tucson (until Malcolm Lee went down with cramps). Still one would have to be absolutely brain dead if he or she thinks Bruins still have a legit shot of extending the season beyond next weekend.
As for the tournament one of our senior "leaders" is bravely setting up what's at stake:
"The last few years, we went into the tournament trying to improve our seeding," said Dragovic, who had 15 points. "I'm not sure this has sunk in with the young guys yet, but this is the end if we don't win." [...]
"We're the underdogs," Dragovic said. "Maybe that's our chance. I don't think anyone expects anything from us."
Uh. Yeah. Okay. Thanks Rag. That sure will fire up everyone else. I am sure everyone is going to be very excited about watching another UCLA game in which Rags will get to flail around both ends of the court for more than 30 minutes.
Rag is not the only one spouting out the clichés for the tournament. Coach Howland is talking about a "new season":
"We've had a disappointing season, both the nonconference and the conference season," Howland said. "We still have one more chance to have a whole new season."
Similarly Malcolm Lee is excited about a "new season":
"We're back to 0-0, like everyone else," said guard Malcolm Lee, who had 15 points. "It doesn't matter what you're preseason ranking was. It doesn't matter if you were the conference champion. It's a new season."
Yes, Malcolm. We are looking forward to 20010-11 season. Hopefully Lee will be around for it as I think he can leave UCLA on a solid note if he concentrates on having a great off-season, and focus on playing the 2g spot before taking a credible shot at the NBA.
In terms of comments from last night's game there was yet another mea culpa from Ben Howland:
Still, back-to-back three-pointers by Dragovic had the Bruins down by five.
"Then I called timeout and went back to the zone, stupidly," Howland said.
I am going to defer to the folks who were still watching the game intently in second half. I had lost all interest in tracking it closely after Bobo was pulled in the first half, which followed a solid stretch during which he scored a point and took an offensive charge. Again, not advancing the proposition that playing Bobo was the answer. Bobo still has long way to go. He is still slow-footed and has moments where he gets burned defensively (see britishbruin's comment).
However, the problem lies in the same old issue of not holding certain teacher's pets to same standard of accountability that is applied to rest of the team. It is difficult for someone like Bobo to get better at that sense of anticipation/reaction time without meaningful playing time. The fact that he has taken a step forward from last season is encouraging and it will be a shame that if he gets discouraged enough to seek another option besides UCLA during this off-season. It was also simply absurd that Mike Moser didn't lot a single minute of playing time yesterday. Thankfully the regular season is over.
As mentioned up top, the game against Arizona starts early on Thursday. Given how UCLA team prepares well when they have time and had an encouraging effort against the Wildcats last Thursday night, Bruins might have a shot in this first game.
Unfortunately for us, ultimately it is not going to matter all that much because the core of this basketball program has rotten beyond recognition because of events that have transpired dating back to last season. It will be up to Howland to correct and address these issues in a swift and precise manner during this season. He will have to make meaningful changes this off-season by addressing the factors we have laid out in previous weeks. The fast approaching off-season will be the most important one since Howland's arrival to UCLA and how he handles it will give us pretty good indication of whether he will remain as the leader of this program beyond next two years.