"The UCLA community is by far a more forgiving one that any other traditional top-five program in the country." - Tracy Pierson, BruinReportOnline.com - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Some poignant thoughts on the uninformed national media commentary on UCLA basketball from one of the most astute and longtime observers, covering the UCLA program.
The following is a guest blog post from Tracy Pierson, founder and manager of BruinReportOnline.com, which we think is one of the best recruiting information sites in the country, not just pertaining to UCLA football and basketball but for college recruiting in general. Tracy has been at this for a long time. He posted the following thoughts on BRO's premium hoops forum last week and gave us permission to cross-post them here. His thoughts re. the ignorant media commentary on UCLA basketball particular from members of media, who don't follow UCLA basketball closely like we do, is a must read for all Bruin fans who love and care about UCLA basketball. Oh - if you haven't done it yet - you should consider subscribing to BRO. The information provided by Tracy and his colleagues like Greg Hicks, Brandon Huffman and Greg Biggins are well worth the subscription. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
In my time in doing this job, I've experienced many people attempting to comment about UCLA basketball who don't really know it.
Because they don't know it, they do a few things to have an angle:
-- They trot old old fallacies about the UCLA basketball community not accepting anything less than Wooden-level success.
-- They take the word of people who have an agenda, or other people who don't know UCLA basketball.
-- There is kind of an accepted unwritten creed that, if you're a commentator, you defend all coaches, even if the commentator knows that the coach is deservedly on the hot seat (except for Bill Walton, of course, to ad nauseum).
Here are some realities:
-- The UCLA community is by far a more forgiving one that any other traditional top-five program in the country. No other top 5 program would tolerate the program's performance under coaches like Steve Lavin, Larry Farmer or Walt Hazzard. UCLA kept Lavin, amazingly, for 7 years. No other top 5 program would tolerate the most recent five seasons. And not only does the UCLA community tolerate it, a big portion of the community actually forgives it. Do you think this could happen at Kentucky, Kansas, or North Carolina? It wouldn't, because those basketball communities wouldn't tolerate it.
-- The people who write these kinds of article are usually not close to the UCLA program or the UCLA basketball community, and, in my experience, most of the time, have an agenda -- against UCLA basketball. They want to paint the picture that UCLA is an untenable situation for a coach.
-- Steve Lavin is the prime facilitator of all of this. He is a horrendous coach, a complete fraud. I know this; I watched him run his program up close. But he needs to save face and perpetuate the naive perception of UCLA with other non-UCLA basketball-knowledgeable people, to rationalize his failure here. A good rule of thumb: Any article that ever cites Lavin as a source for UCLA basketball has absolutely no credibility.
Here's the biggest reality: The UCLA basketball program is a Sleeping Giant. I've said it about the football program, and it doesn't even compare to the basketball program. And look what Jim Mora has done with the football program in one season.
If you put some things into place at UCLA, in either football or basketball, but moreso basketball even, the Giant will awaken. This is what it takes: money, good facilities and a good coach. If you have that, UCLA's natural advantages will keep it in the rarified air of the nation's top five programs consistently. For the last 10 years, UCLA didn't have good facilities, didn't have money but, for the most part (well the first five years), had a good coach. What has happened to Howland at UCLA, however, is in own fault. He abandoned the philosophy and approach that took him to three straight Final Fours, and it begot him the last four seasons of only two NCAA appearances, and poor appearances at that, and one losing season -- along with this current season. Howland gambling with his philosophy and approach and his personality is what did him in, not anything about UCLA's fans. The article would be credible if Howland didn't have such a poor record over the last 4 1/2 seasons.
Now, UCLA has good facilities and some money to spend. It just needs a good coach, one who hasn't coached himself into a corner in terms of his management style, philosophy, approach and recruiting.
I'm going on record right now: given that UCLA now has the resources, if it gets a good, reputable coach, it will have a chance to be consistently a top-five national program. Especially with how the west is primed for someone to take it over.
UCLA basketball is the quintessential Sleeping Giant.
And the people who write these types of articles, for some reason, don't want that to happen.
- Tracy Pierson