UCLA Basketball Roundup: Too Cool Bruins Get Frozen Out of Pac-10 Tournament

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Malcolm Lee #3 of the UCLA Bruins walks off the court after the Bruins were defeated 76-59 by the Oregon Ducks in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

So far this year, UCLA had been able to accomplish their goals: get to the tourney, compete for the Pac-10 title, never get blown out, fought if not for 40 minutes in every game, play good defensive, improve, etc.  It was pretty obvious that once they got the tournament bid locked up, they stopped playing, starting with the first half in the Washington State game. That game, UCLA came back, against a shorthanded group of Cougars, only after CBH told them they weren't in the tournament yet.  Tonight they decided to take the night off (emphasis mine):

"They had the mentality that they didn't have anything to lose," UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt said. "We came in here with a 'too cool' of an attitude."

The nonchalance resulted in another sluggish start and possibly the most mortifying moment of Coach Ben Howland's UCLA tenure, when the Bruins received a technical foul in the first half for having six players on the court after a timeout.

"That was embarrassing," Howland said. "That right there was like indicative of the night. That that could actually happen is unbelievable." . . .

"Just started from warmups," said Honeycutt, who scored 19 points but was the only Bruin in double figures. "Guys weren't taking, like, game shots, weren't really being focused."

These guys need to look at the "old guys."  They need to learn that what they did Thursday night was uncool, embarrassing and shameful to the Bruin tradition and to themselves.  And most of all there is no excuse.  You want to be good, you don't take nights off, shoot AA does not take summers off. 

Afflalo is a new kind of ambassador for the Nuggets, an edgy outfit that former general manager Mark Warkentien used to compare to a pack of "stray dogs." Chris "Birdman" Andersen once said of these Nuggets: "We may not lead the league in stats, but we do in tats." Afflalo has no ink, and more telling, he started watching game tape when he was 8, woke his father in the middle of the night to spot him on the bench press when he was a teenager, and left his beachfront apartment in Los Angeles last July because he wanted to go back to work in Denver. He is a straight shooter, in every sense, who embodies the intensity and concentration that the Nuggets often lacked.

Or how about Kevin Love.  Does he take nights off when the game is "hopeless" or "meaningless"? 

He got his record 52nd consecutive double-double fast (in the middle of the second quarter with a free throw) as his Timberwolves were blowing out the Indiana Pacers. . . . He has been consistent and worked hard on a team that needed this kind of production. He has had chances because the Wolves are so bad — they are now 12-40 during the streak — but he took advantage of it.

KL never stops working when even when his team is 12-40, AA never stops working even when it is July.  This team quit the second they were in the Big Dance because they were "too cool."

More round-up after the jump.

This was a complete and embarrassing loss on every level:

The 17-point loss was the largest margin of defeat UCLA has ever had in a Pac-10 tournament game. This season, only Washington had defeated UCLA by that much. [sic UW beat UCLA by 11 after Jones dislocated his finger, worse loss was by 12 before this.]

UCLA shot 35.2 percent -- its lowest since a 66-57 loss to Montana on Dec. 5 -- and only Tyler Honeycutt reached double figures in scoring to mark the first time this season only one player had 10 or more.

If there is a silver lining for UCLA, it’s that the Bruins will now get a little extra rest before the NCAA tournament and they can use it. . . .

"Some guys need rest and we need guys to get healthy," Anderson said. "But on the other hand I think we need to get back in the gym tomorrow and do something about this loss because it was embarrassing."

Speaking of injury, Malcolm Lee, our leader said he was fine but it was hard to tell.  He has dominated Oregon this season and was a non-factor last night:

Guard Malcolm Lee, playing his first game since suffering torn cartilage in his left knee in the Bruins' regular-season finale, played 27 minutes and had six points and four rebounds. The junior from Riverside North High said the knee was "a little sore, but it's going to be all right."

Lee had an excuse, no one else did.  Anderson was sick but 1-6 from the charity stripe?  Critics will say this one was coming from a team that had trailed Oregon in both of their previous games but tonight they never kicked into gear and E.J. Singler joined Jorge Gutierrez, Jamie Skeen, and other players who got their career highs against the Bruins this year.  From the Oregon papers:

Singler beat his career high of 22 points set Wednesday in the Ducks' win against Arizona State, and he was just as consistent against the Bruins.

. . .

The Bruins shot 35 percent from the floor and failed to generate anything more than an 8-0 run that didn't get them closer than the 10 points they trailed by early in the second half.

. . .

UCLA's Reeves Nelson had 10 rebounds but just seven points and didn't score his first basket until the start of the second half. Big man Joshua Smith was held to five points and six rebounds.

. . .

The loss was a stunning letdown for UCLA, which won nine of its last 11 to close the regular season and is bidding to return to the NCAA tournament after missing out last year. 

To his credit CBH tires to take the blame:

"Bottom line, it starts right here," Howland said. "Obviously we did not do a good job of getting our team focused - I did not - focused and understanding.

"I'm really disappointed in that because we had a lot of opportunity here to help ourselves." . . .

Understanding? The Ducks back-cut UCLA all game long, flustered the Bruins with their zone defense and denied the post. By the time Nelson was called for a technical foul for arguing with referees with 5:39 to go, the Bruins were out of the game, emotionally and quite literally.


The Ducks were ahead 64-48, Singler's two free throws put them up 18 and UCLA slogged to its worst Pac-10 tournament loss in team history

Howland earns the last word with my emphasis:

"I was really excited about the momentum we (had) built," Howland said. "We really, really laid an egg tonight.

"It will be a true test of character how this team bounces back from this performance."

Go Bruins.




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