Well that sucked. There is no sugar coating how I feel this morning. It feels the exact same way I felt during the mornings after Tulsa and Princeton game. It hurts and it hurts like hell.
Before I get to our team, I think congratulations are in order for our friends over at Tightwad-Hill. They are euphoric. And they should be. It was a wonderful performance for the Bears. I was really impressed with the classy comments from Coach Braun and his players during the post-game. Good luck to those guys rest of the way. Now back to us:
Last night was an embarrassment. And really there is no excuse for it.
There is no excuse for the kind of defensive intensity we showed in first half.
There is no excuse for the pathetic FT shooting display we were subjected to the whole night.
The little issues such as slow starts, awful FT shooting, lack of consistent post play, stagnant stretch offenses during which we settle for hapless jumpers, all flared up out in the open, and led our Ben Ball warriors to lay a huge DORRELLIAN egg last night at Staples.
So yeah it sucks. But … there is a but …
The sky is not falling.
As I mentioned last night unlike those losses against Tulsa and Princeton (probably the two of the most bitter hoops losses I ever experienced in my years of following UCLA hoops) we have at least another game to play.
We will see how the team comes out in the next game. I like the fact that Coach Howland is staying positive:
"I'm not really worried about (a No. 1 seed) because bottom line, we have to play better than we played in the last two games," Howland said. "Anybody can beat us on a given day, and I still believe this team can beat anybody on a given day. It's how we prepare, and so it's going to get back to fundamentals in everything we do, beginning Saturday when we have our next practice."
It is going to be interesting how this team reacts to its last two games. I mentioned earlier in the season that the thing that scares me most about this team unlike last year’s team it doesn’t have the senior leadership it received from Ced and Ryan. AA after all is still a junior. However, given the body of work we have had the pleasure to see from AA, DC, Luc, Mata, Shipp et al. in last three years, I am going to keep the faith.
I used the word DORRELIAN above. But clearly something different is at play here. Our coaches and players have a track record of putting together one of the most consistent, well prepared basketball teams in the nation. But they are still human. So it may not be a total surprise to see a team without any senior leadership to perhaps bask its laurels and get complacent after clinching the regular season title more than a week ago. But given how intensely Coach Howland prepares for every game, I have no doubt he is going to evaluate himself and his game schemes first before evaluating rest of his program, before preparing for Saturday’s practice. He will do everything in his power to get us ready. And I am going to stick with him and give him my unquestioned support. Yes, I trust Howland given what he has put together in less than four years.
We still have a game to play. At this point I don’t really care where and who it is against. But if we use the next game to get back our momentum we have completely lost in last few days, it will give us a chance.
If you are going to jump off the bandwagon and give up on our coaches and players, then go right ahead. But don’t think about jumping back on it if they end what has been a very good season with another great run in the Big Dance, and come back for many more.