I wanted to build on Class of 66’s masterful post on reasonable expectations since we can expect a lot of this "all or nothing" narrative in the coming days from many outlets in the MSM (which may influence certain segments in the fanbase):
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the only one of the Bruins who will start in the national semifinals three years in a row, said that he expects a different result this time around and if they don't bring home a 12th NCAA championship then, yes, this season will have been a loss.
"Yeah, definitely," he said. "I personally feel that way and I know the rest of my teammates do, too. We've been there and we have the experience and everything.
"Anything less than a national championship would be a failure for us again. And, you know UCLA, they definitely expect a national championship again. Anything less than that would be a failure for the season."
However, what we should not tolerate is for anyone to attempt to brand this team as some kind of "failure" should the outcome not come out to our liking in San Antonio.
That is unacceptable and we will not tolerate that kind of spoiled sense of entitlement here on Bruins Nation. Let me echo what Coach Howland stated following the Xavier game this past weekend (emphasis added throughout):
"That would be very arrogant for me to ever suggest that if you go to a Final Four and don't win it all, that it's a failure,'' he said. "I don't buy that for a minute. This is a very difficult thing to do. I know it's seemingly common place because it's three times in a row.''
Just how difficult it is to close the deal in the Final-4? Well let's go through some of the Mt. Rushmorian names in college hoops. Shall we?
It took Coach Dean Smith at least 5 tries before he won a NC.
It took Coach Roy Williams 4 tries in the Final-4 to win a NC (he went 0-3 in the Final-4 as the head coach of the Jayhawks).
It also took Coach K 4 trips to the Final-4 before winning the NC at Duke. Coach Tom Izzo is only batting 1 for 4 in these appearances.
And guess what? None of those coaches and their Final-4 seasons that didn't end in a banner are deemed as "failures." Thankfully at least Robyn Norwood in the LA Times gets the point:
He shouldn't worry. The famous alumni of the Can't Win the Big One Club include North Carolina's Roy Williams, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Arizona's Lute Olson -- and before them all, North Carolina's Dean Smith.
As Smith famously said when he finally won his first title in 1982, "I'm not any better a coach than I was 2 1/2 hours ago."
Boeheim echoed those words the night he won the title in 2003.
Sure our players will say the politically right thing as to how at UCLA we only hang NC banners. However, we shouldn't use their words to accept the MSM narrative that these Final-4s don't mean anything unless we win the NC.
Every single one of Coach Howland's Final-4 appearances have been special. They signify how Coach Howland has reestablished UCLA basketball as one of the elite program (if not the premiere one) in the post Wooden era of college basketball. And I don't believe that the window is closing for us after this year.
So before we get on with this week, let's not even think about accepting and advancing the obnoxious and arrogant MSM narrative about how San Antonio is an "all or nothing" proposition for our Ben Ball warriors.
I know with Coach Howland in charge no matter what happens in San Antonio this weekend, we are going to come back with another great team next year, which will give us everything they have, building on the incredible foundation that Coach Howland has established in his first five magical years in Westwood.
Now that's out of the way back to the excitement of getting all hyped for Saturday.
UPDATE: Didn't see this Roy Williams quote from yesterday, who also makes our point:
"It's mind-boggling. On your staff, we're coming back on the bus and one of the guys said, Coach, this is four of the last seven years we've been in the Final Four. And I said, that is unbelievably hard, but Ben Howland has been there three years in a row. It's mind-boggling what Ben's done. It's extremely impressive. And, guys, this is hard to do. And to be able to do that three years in a row is just mind-boggling. I don't have enough adjectives, enough vocabulary to describe it."