My apologies for doing this so late. I guess I was just too depressed. Although it was not in doubt, it is now official. UCLA is not the best team in California and has not been in a while. That belongs to San Diego State.
As dispiriting of a week as it was for the Bruins, it was another positive step forward for the Aztecs basketball program, which won its 26th consecutive game against California schools and its 11th consecutive game against teams currently in the Pac-12 conference.
The sky-high expectations for this team entering the season were apparently premature. A recruiting class ranked No. 1 in the nation was supposed to lift the team to national title contender status, but the Bruins have now lost two games to teams from their home state.
It's time to recognize that the Bruins are a developing squad with on-court chemistry that has yet to sort itself out, and players who are still figuring out the college game.
Howland and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero have so destroyed this team that the WOODEN CLASSIC became a road game.
About 70 percent of the announced crowd of 17,204 wore red and black, and it created about 95 percent of the noise. The seating area behind the basket next to UCLA's bench was supposed to be for its fans; it was sprinkled with Aztec faithful, too.
The din over the final minutes, as you might imagine, was deafening. Seventy-two years is a long time.
"It was like playing a road game wearing a white jersey, which you don't do too often," UCLA Ben Howland said. "It was definitely a hostile environment for us."
"It was hard to play out there," said UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, the nation's top prep recruit last year. "The crowd was erupting."
Of course UCLA not only did not have many fans, they did not have many players. Tony Parker was hurt and it seemed like David Wear was hurting. Really giving UCLA only six and half players for the game. Of course Howland denied this was a problem.
"Other than Larry [Drew II], the minutes were spread around pretty solidly. I don't think we lost the game because of fatigue in any way," Howland said, referencing his senior guard who was on the court for 39 minutes.
Actually I agree the Bruins did not lose because of fatigue, at least not in total. There were a number of reasons, dispirited team, road game, other team better coached, but Howland gave this one:
"Our zone really, really got tortured by their 3-point shooting," Bruins head coach Ben Howland said. "We had some miscommunications, breakdowns on our responsibilities in the zone."
Ah no the zone kept you in the game in the first half. BTW, if you had realized your team would need to play zone this year earlier, the zone would be in better shape now. I personally thought, with some mistakes, Norman Powell played well, which may be the reason he played the least minutes of our healthy players.
However, all can agree that Jordan Adams was phenomenal in stretches:
The teams traded 3-pointers to start the second half, with Adams hitting three in a row to pull the Bruins into a tie at 38-all.
Shabazz Muhammad while not great was very good at times and showed flashes for the future:
Adams led UCLA with 23 points, making four of his five 3-pointers after the break. He and Muhammad combined shoot 14 of 26 from the field for 39 points. The rest of the Bruins were 13 of 38.
Which sums up this "team." We have some potentially good parts, but with a coach who has lost his way.