Coach John Wooden is 99 years old. He took time out to watch his former program today by making the trip out to Anaheim to watch what is likely to be one of the last UCLA games he will see in person. Well Ben Howland and his basketball players in UCLA uniform rewarded the Bruin living legend by putting on the most embarrassing display of ugly basketball we have seen in Westwood in years.
Ben Howland, his staff, players, and everyone associated with his program should be ashamed of themselves today for embarrassing the four letters infront of Coach John Wooden. They went down in one of the most humiliating defeats in Bruin basketball history by getting blown out by Mississippi State Bulldogs. The final score was 72-54 (boxscore) thanks to a meaningless second half run by the Bruins which made the score respectable (if you want to call it respectable). Yet, that doesn't matter much because for most the game Ben Howland's players look like bunch of quitters, who played without any sense of purpose or passion, going through the motion like we used to see happen all too often under coaches such Steve Lavin and Karl Dorrell.
The responsibility for today's debacle really falls on Ben Howland who had his team poor prepared and failed to make any kind of adjustments during the game, when Bruins fell behind early on. We just have to look at how he stuck with Nikola Dragovic in his rotation for most of the game, even though Draogic was ineffective and worthless in every aspect of the game. Despite taking ill advised shots, not making much of an effort to play defense or rebound, Howland rewarded him with huge mins (and started him in the second half), sending the wrong signals to his entire team.
What happened today was few steps backwards for a young team effectively negating all the encouraging signs from previous loss against Kansas. Same deal took place against Long Beach State after an "encouraging" performance in a close loss against Butler. The only hope for this season is that we will have something else to think about besides Bruin basketball, thanks to Navy's win over Army this afternoon in Philadelphia. Oh yeah, congrats to our football team for making a bowl game in Washington DC. Back to hoops after the jump.There are serious problems with our program right now I am not confident whether Howland has the answer. I have always been a huge supporter of what he has done in this program and I will continue to support him for now. However, he has some serious explaining to do about why he continues to stunt the long term future of this program by wasting mins on upperclassmen such as Dragovic and Keefe who do not have the athletic talent, and frankly haven't shown poise and effort necessary to get mins on the court.
Howland also needs to show he is capable of making adjustments to his offensive and defensive schemes to fit the talent he has available to him on the bench. Instead of going with experience, he needs to develop a new core around young players such Nelson, Lane, and Reeves. If he doesn't do it before its too late he will lose his team who will lost motivation to compete and to give 100 percent effort only to see all of their mins going to guys such as Dragovic.
Anyway, as mentioned above thanks to the Midshipmen for pulling out a big win (congrats to Army for giving a great effort). At least we have something to look forward to in our bowl game. The way it's looking for our basketball program, not sure if they will be able get to 10 wins during this regular season.
Again, truly a shameful effort by Howland, his coaches and his players. Everyone associated with UCLA basketball should be disgusted tonight.