I wasn't fortunate enough to be around during the glory years of Coach John R. Wooden.
I was fortunate enough to not be around during those agonizing (from what I have read) years immediately after Coach's retirement. All this time, from various articles and books I have read over the years, I was led to believe that apparently after Coach Wooden left his immediate successors weren't able to survive at UCLA because of the ungodly pressure they faced from our alums and fans. And that legend was further hyped during the dark years of Coach Howland's predecessor who constantly bashed UCLA alums and fans (using the phrase "pathology of UCLA basketball") saying how pressure and expectation from us will never allow a head coach to survive and prosper in Westwood.
But after five (in my book which already has been glorious) years of Coach Howland in Westwood to me it's now more than apparent who are the real enemies of UCLA basketball.
Now we know.
From the OC Register's "preview" by Robert Kuwada (emphasis added):
Did Ben Howland do any coaching in the second half of that Western Kentucky game or did the Bruins just not take to it? UCLA allowed an incredible 58 points over the final 20 minutes, which is what they were allowing per game coming in. Worse, the Bruins failed to handle the Hilltoppers' pressure after working against it all week. When they did, they were jacking up poor shots. Somewhere in there, Howland has to get his team settled. If the Hilltoppers had come out in the first half and played more aggressively, UCLA might be sitting at home right now. Edge: Even
OUTCOME: Xavier 77, UCLA 72
The Bruins should win this game, but they again are playing a team that will not shy away from them, as No. 16 seed Mississippi Valley State did in the first round and No. 12 Western Kentucky did in the first half in the regional semifinal. The Musketeers, No. 3 in the West, will compete from the start and have the fortitude to weather some rough spots, as they did in taking down West Virginia to advance to the Elite Eight. If UCLA again is reduced to Love and in need of luck from elsewhere, it will not make a third consecutive Final Four.
Top-seeded UCLA needs to defeat No. 3 seed Xavier in today's West Regional final of the NCAA Tournament at US Airways Center ....
It was a day for Bruins Coach Ben Howland to admit that if he'd had another guard, Russell Westbrook wouldn't have been given the opportunity to miss 12 shots Thursday night, and for freshman center Kevin Love to not be bashful and say that he was disappointed in the way junior point guard Darren Collison put himself on the bench with five fouls.
And Pucin of course wasn't alone. She was outdone by Plaschke attacking the "elitist attitude" of our basketball program (emphasis added):
I believe if the Bruins don't find their heads and remember their history, they will lose.
I believe if they don't match their talent with previous teams' hearts, they will have lost by the time some of you have finished reading this.
If the Bruins remain unfocused and unfazed in today's regional final, Xavier will bully them, baffle them and beat them.
Based on their overall play in their two previous tournament games -- the opener against high-school-equivalent Mississippi Valley State doesn't count -- the Bruins have been the worst No. 1-seeded team in the tournament.
Based on their inconsistent effort, they are the worst of the last three Ben Howland tournament teams.
If today doesn't make it clear who the enemies of our program are, I am not sure what will. We knew majority of the analysts and pundits in WWL and national MSM are worthless. The fans of opposing teams are always going to hold on to the generational Bruin hate stemming from the Wooden years, which will only intensify as Coach Howland continues to rebuild the empire in Westwood. But now today is pretty much making it clear how the local MSM will go out of their way to pounce and do everything they can to marginalize and pressure our program. Pretty clear in my book who are the enemies of UCLA basketball.
Anyway if you are looking to read up on Xavier, since none of today's MSM reports provide anything substantive on Xavier read our notes on Xavier here and here, and also check out Bruin Basketball Report's game preview here.
Now more than ever we need to rally behind our program, our players, and our head coach. They should know they will never be alone. They will have thousands of us - alums, students, and fans - people with actual connections to the greatest university in America rooting for them, supporting them, giving them everything we have emotionally every step of the way.
It certainly looks like motivation will not be an issue for our Ben Ball warriors. They should feel no pressure from a single alum, student or fan from BN. No matter what happens we are going to stick with them. No matter what happens we are proud of the season they have put together so far. But now more than ever I want us to get it done today so we can shut these clowns up.
The game thread will come up later today.