Old Pauley Under Glass was rocking! The crowd was pumped, into it, doing 8 claps, and celebrating the greatness of the team on the court. Oh sorry, that was last night at the signing day festivities. Forget everything I just said.
If there was a ranking of the worst halves of basketball in UCLA history, the Bruins may have opened up the game with a legitimate contender for the Top 10. Or the bottom 10, or whatever. Washington was a team that came in begging to get blown out. They pleaded with us to bury them when they were committing a turnover a minute in the first 10 minutes. Lorenzo Romar's charges looked to be a team with no game plan, no energy, and no clue. The Bruins, like our season ticket holders apparently, took that invitation and politely declined. UCLA somehow went into halftime tied and only after a buzzer beating 3 by Norman Powell.
Fortunately for the half full OPUG crowd, UW's 19 turnovers and 2-15 three point shooting finally caught up with them in the second half. Usually this is where we highlight the individual players that still managed to play well in such an ugly game, but who deserves that kind of mention today? Shabazz Muhammad had the best individual game with 22 points, but it took him 23 shots to get there. Larry Drew II had his Mustafa Abdul-Hamid moment with a game winning shot at the buzzer, but this was not a performance to be proud of.
The biggest news of the night did not take place on the court, but at the announcers table, as Bruin legend Bill Walton finally laid down the gauntlet and made explicit his displeasure with the direction of the program. Having commented on the pathetic state of attendance five separate times, this exchange followed:
"So you're not a Howland fan"
That, Bruins, is a resounding vote of no confidence. Say what you will about Bill Walton, but this is a man that understands Coach Wooden's legacy, and knows the standards this program must hold itself to. He criticizes what he loves because he cannot bear to see the program in this state, playing uninspired directionless ball before a tomb-like Old Pauley Under Glass. There is no way that this team had any business going down to the wire against UW the way they played tonight, but there we were once again, sweating it out. This is not a team that is getting better. This is a team that is holding on for dear life. This is a vote of no confidence.