I would like to talk about almost anything on UCLA Basketball besides the eligibility of Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. Still no word nor timetable. Today's article is from Bill Plaschke of the LA Times:
It's important to note that, to the best of my knowledge, UCLA is not under investigation. It is only the players who are being investigated, the NCAA checking for possible benefits received from agents and friends and travel-team flunkies while the kids were still in high school.
So far, there is zero evidence that the Bruins did anything wrong here. It just seems that way, and that's the worst part of it.
It is bad when even the Trojan Times starts to feel sympathy for UCLA's treatment for Plaschke adds:
Some folks just don't believe that four top players would forsake the Kentuckys and North Carolinas to attend a school with a tough coach and an aging legacy that many young athletes have forgotten. After Howland made several recruiting mistakes in recent years, these stars seemed to parachute into Westwood out of nowhere, and folks wonder why. It doesn't help that one of Howland's top recruiters is a former AAU big shot from Atlanta named Korey McCray.
"UCLA will always be involved with great players, and those players always draw scrutiny," Howland said. "That's just the way it is."
He's right. I'd rather have UCLA chase those big stars and endure the NCAA microscope than settle for the mediocre acquisitions who never are noticed. I'd like to believe UCLA still means something to young stars, and I'd like to believe Howland has put enough players in the NBA that he still means something to them too.
I for one agree with him on his last paragraph and think that coming to UCLA means a lot to high school kids. And this season brings up a number of these past glories.
First UCLA plays again at Houston, the location of the Game of the Century and the one basketball game that put NCAA basketball on the map, the famous UCLA v. Houston game in 1968. Sure this game does not have the same stakes but it is important reminder to UCLA's role in history.
The conference call to announce that Texas and UCLA were going to be playing each other in basketball, in Reliant Stadium, was wrapping up and UT coach Rick Barnes heaved a long shot.
Though this is the inaugural M.D. Anderson Proton Therapy Showcase, Reliant Stadium (and it's still-standing neighbor, the Astrodome) have a history with college basketball and with UCLA in particular.
The so-called "The Game of the Century," between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Houston was played at the Astrodome in 1968, with the Cougars winning 71-69 in front of more than 52,000. UCLA won its seventh national championship at the Astrodome in 1971. Reliant Stadium hosted the 2011 Final Four.
But it is more important than just history. Even our rivals Arizona want UCLA basketball back for the good of the West:
The reemergence of Arizona and UCLA doesn't necessarily mean the concentration of power will increase, or the level of play will improve, but at least the Pac-12 should finally have teams garnering national attention.
The typically big recruiting classes from prestigious teams are finally coming to fruition this season and that concentration of talent at the top is refreshing.
Even though some Arizona fans are hoping for UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson to receive season-long suspensions due to reported recruiting violations - paving the way for the Wildcats to easily stroll to the Pac-12 crown - that's not what anyone should want. Guaranteed championships don't exist, anyway.
Time and time again, sports have proven to be at their best and most fun when classic rivalries are at their best. Watching two heavyweights like Arizona and UCLA battle it out for conference supremacy should inspire classic nostalgia and make the basketball traditionalists quiver with excitement.
Hopefully this eligibility stuff gets cleared very soon. And more important UCLA ends the season in the national discussion for its play on the court.