I will stop calling these posts "Ben Ball" roundup. I am going to try hard from hereon out to just stop using the word "Ben Ball" around the current edition of UCLA basketball team because doing so frankly insult the legacy Ben Ball warriors built in Westwood from recent years. At the midpoint of this basketball season Bruins look noting more than a dead team walking with a record of 7-10 and 2-3 in the Pac-10. Looking at rest of this season's schedule I could see us not winning another game rest of this season.
Probably the only two games we will be favorites (perhaps) this season are during the home stand against Oregon schools. Sure we can probably eek out a win here and there on an incredibly lucky night (like last week against Cal) but right now I think there is genuine doubt whether this team will get to double digits in the win column by rest of this season. So pardon me for rolling my eyes and being disgusted at whatever excuses that comes out of our players' mouth these days via the press.
At the end of the game on Saturday we heard weird comments about UCLA's game prep from Malcolm Lee. bruinponcho already took Nelson to task for
doing a Drew Gordon throwing his team-mates and coaches under the bus. It looks like Michael Roll is the only who is still working on getting the team-message out. From the OC Register:
Roll deflected the accountability away from his coach.
"He had a good game plan," Roll said. "We knew what type of team they were, coming in. We just came out and didn't play. We weren't making shots and we were stagnant on the offensive end."
I appreciate Mike's effort to protect his head coach and taking the responsibility as a team. However, I don't care much for the nonsense we used to hear from football players during Dorrell days about how the team "just" didn't come out and "play." That is not an acceptable sentiment when these guys are going up against the guys from cross-town. Moreover, it is also disturbing that Roll thinks the problem is on the offensive end. While the offense is definitely an issue, the problem with this program right now is that its foundation built on defense and fundamentals are cracked. This is not a defensively oriented and fundamentally sound basketball team. Those are the big reasons why this team is right now appears to be heading towards the designation (unless something dramatic happens) as perhaps the worst team in the history of UCLA basketball in last 60 years.
Malcolm Lee after his ill-advised comments following the Southern Cal game is trying to strike the right notes this week:
"We're going to have to start from the bottom up," Lee said. "They killed us on the boards. We have to do the little things - boxing out, controlling the rebounds on their offensive end, take smarter shots. We can't take big steps. We have to take little steps. We're not doing the little things." Those are nice sentiments from Lee. However, Lee's sentiment doesn't mean much when we will see Dragovic setting examples of how not worry about little things and not being held accountable by his head coach. Lee also talked about playing "hard":
"We're going to have to start from the bottom up," Lee said. "They killed us on the boards. We have to do the little things - boxing out, controlling the rebounds on their offensive end, take smarter shots. We can't take big steps. We have to take little steps. We're not doing the little things."
Those are nice sentiments from Lee. However, Lee's sentiment doesn't mean much when we will see Dragovic setting examples of how not worry about little things and not being held accountable by his head coach. Lee also talked about playing "hard":
"We win as a team and we're going to lose as a team," he said. "It's not just the coach. It's not just the players. Even if you don't play, what could you have done better to prepare for the game? Working through the scouting report, paying attention in the video room, I think we're going to have to look in the mirror. We're going to win as a team and we're going to lose as a team so everyone had a contribution to this bad performance.
"We have to be playing like we've got nothing to lose. We really don't. From here on out, we're going to have to play hard."
That is nice to hear from Lee but doesn't mean much given the garbage we have seen to date. It certainly doesn't make us feel any better for his team to not "play hard" and with passion up to this point of the season.
I am not holding my breath for any dramatic changes at this point. I am not even holding my breath for any meaningful changes. We take on two Washington schools this week. Both of them are decent teams but should be beatable opponents if we had a credible basketball team. We don't. Perhaps we can even get lucky in one of those two games and expect the Ragovic and Roll to get hot from the three point line and give us a shot.
However, I don't care much for pinning my hopes on those two guys and getting excited about our chances for a win. I have never cared for a basketball team that only has a chance to win based on great shooting nights from three point lines without caring much for rebounding and playing defense. Right now it's shaping up to be another worthless wasted week for a broken UCLA basketball program in Howlandwood.