So you'll FEELING the "excitement" of March? We are just getting started. So Ben Howland's magical, mystical farewell tour
fell into hit a crater bump against Washington State. Other Bruins like Brian Murphy had a colorful way of describing of what took place in Pullman. Our DC Bruins who has been amazingly eloquent all season in keeping calm and carrying while blogging about Howland's dumpster fire, wrote how Wednesday night should have been the "last nail in Howland's coffin."
But, I hardly think Wednesday night was the end. I doubt it. You see Howland's career coffin at UCLA should have been nailed long time ago. As we have said many times here - rather relentlessly without any apology - if UCLA had credible leadership at its athletic department, Howland would have been shown the door after last year's disgraceful season during which the Bruins failed to get invited to the freaking NIT. Instead our incompetent athletic director took the short sighted view of keeping around a mediocre coach (more on that in few hours in what will be an epic post from tasser10) just so UCLA could hold onto a "number 1 recruiting class." Yes, the pursuit of instant gratification of bringing in a number 1 recruiting class and having them featured in the $130 million+ boondoggle has resulted in the ugly mess we are in today.
Yet despite the pathetic state of UCLA basketball, Howland is hardly done. Instead of preparing his team for a road trip in what should be two gimme games, he was busy spending the early part of the week whining to the uninformed national beat writers about unrealistic expectations of UCLA fanbase. Instead of having his team focused for Washington State, Howland was preoccupied with setting up the "victim" narrative for the national media by chatting up with "reporters" like Garry Parish (the same guy who was busy this summer launching attacks against UCLA recruiting).
In a rational world, Howland would be a dead man walking. Well, in a rational world Howland would be coaching somewhere else this season, while we'd have a super star coach with a proven track record of building national powerhouse leading the Bruins. Nope despite completely wrecking the foundation of a program he built, Howland still has a viable shot of waging a fight for his job due to an incompetent athletic director with no back bone and an even weaker Pathetic-12 conference.
That's right despite underachieving in epic style to date (especially given the pre-season expectations of a wire-to-wire top-5/10 type of season, dominating run to conference regular season and tourney titles, and an appearance in the Final-4 to compete for banner 12), Bruins are well set up to back into the conference regular season championship.
ICYMI - on Thursday night the Oregon Duckies choked against Colorado. Actually they got blown out. This happened after last night Monty's crew got clowned by an awful Stanford team at Haas infront of an exasperated Bill Walton. It's almost as if the teams from this joke conference are pulling out all the stops to keep Howland around for at least one more year in Westwood.
Basically all the Bruins need to do is beat an awfully mediocre and poorly coached Washington (17-13, 9-8 in the conference) who specializes in jungle-ball. Yes, Seattle has been a house of horror for Ben Howland where the Bruins haven't won since 2004.
That's right the Bruins have lost 8 in a row against the Huskies and have never beaten them even with the great teams we had with warriors like AA, JF, LRMAM, PAA, RW, DC, LMR, KL and so on. So given the "Lavin law" will be in full effect (mediocre to bad UCLA coach who has no business of hanging on to his job pulling of win in a "tough" circumstances by leveraging the superior but "motivated" talent on his roster) - I fully expect the Bruins to snap the streak against Huskies tomorrow, and clinch at least a share of the Pac-12 regular season. And there is also a more than a good chance that the Duckies will choke against the Utes.
And, then the Howlers will come out Hooooooooooowling (ignoring the reality based perspective on UCLA basketball). It will also lead to Peter Yoon's of the world to breathlessly report about Howland coached team's "resilience" (or something) and will set up at least an appearance in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament. And given how the conference is this year - it will not be a surprise if the Bruins win the tourney and get placed in San Jose for the Madness. By that point Bruins could be set up to make a "run" if they managed to get to the regionals at Staples.
This is not over. I know this is a poorly coached team. I know we have a nice group of kids who are immensely talented but are operating within a deeply flawed structure because of dysfunctional chemistry due to lack of leadership from its head coach. But this is UCLA basketball. And in our world because of ZERO leadership and lack of accountability at the top, you can certainly expect the most bizarre and surreal experiencing when following this program.
So get ready for Saturday. Take it all in with amusement when Bruins clinch a share of the conference title in Seattle (the last place where we won a national championship) to set up for a bizarre and twisted March. In the words of a former UCLA basketball coach (who also wrecked our program) Ben Howland is going to be a "tough out" this March. YAY! Enjoy!