Well it looks just about official now. As expected Howland's pathetic Bruins once again melted down the stretch losing to Southern Cal by a score of 64-68. Here is the box score. The loss was Ben Howland's first at Pauley East. More significantly Ben Howland I believe becomes the first UCLA basketball coach in post-Wooden era to lose three straight games (all in ugly fashion) to the Trogans (dating back to last year's listless performance in the Pac-10 tourney.
Howland's team now has a record of 11-13 as they are headed towards what looks to be the only third losing season since 1948. Steve Lavin had the first one in his last season. Howland had the second one which we can give him a pass for because it was all on Lavin. However, this season's debacle is going to be all on Ben Howland. At this point the regular season is over. Bruins are not going to win the conference (the idea that Bruins were actually competing for the conference title was nothing short of delusional chatter). It will be interesting to see if they actually hold serve against Oregon schools at Pauley. Just disgraceful on all accounts.
Tonight's game was close in the box score but it really wasn't. The story was nothing different. Our point guards were atrocious as Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson combined for 2 assists and 8 turnovers. We actually had a lead with mins left in the first half when Howland let Anderson basically turn over all of the momentum. Similarly when the Bruins were making a run in the second half, he once again inexplicably went to Anderson with a game on the line. Despite keeping it close, we never had a realistic shot in this game because as usually we looked soft and mentally weak with no desire or will to win the game.
Our offense looked lost most of the times as we jacked up 26 shots from the 3 point like (connecting only 7 times) and barely made half of our FT shots going 9 for 18 from the line. Our "shooter" - Ragovic - went 2 for 8 from the 3 point line and made only 1 out of his 4 FT shot (but he is our best shooter from the FT line!). Guess the only positive stat for the Bruins was that we outrebounded them by a margin of 36 to 23, but it really didn't matter because we didn't get any credible performance from our guards.
You know our guards were atrocious when Donte Smith had a career night scoring 12 points against our back court. You just have to shake your head and wonder what was Ben Howland thinking playing Anderson of Mustafa Abdul Hamid. You just have to wonder what was Howland thinking going to a man-to-man defense after Honeycutt had picked up his 4th foul.
Howland did played his freshmen today. Brendan Lane had tough moments in the second half but he wasn't any worse than rest of the team. Similarly Mike Moser came in and turned the ball over twice but he also had a big offensive rebound and took a charge. He certainly wasn't responsible for the total implosion from this team which we have gotten accustomed to all season due to hurried three points shots, awful FT shooting and lack of credible performance from the backcourt. Just another unwatchable performance from Howland's Bruins.
This pathetic loss should get Howland's seat warmer. As we have suggested earlier this year, if this season ends up being a losing one, there should be no excuse for it and should end up putting Howland under pressure. Again, there is no way I am suggesting that UCLA should be firing Ben Howland if we end up suffering a losing season in 2009-10.However, the pressure is on Howland now to not only producing a Pac-10 contending season next year but also to follow it up with a huge one in 11-12 during which the Bruins should be contending for a high seed putting them in position for a deep run in the Big Dance.
This unwatchable, ugly mess is all on Ben Howland. He created it and he is responsible for fixing it. Howland should be ashamed of it. I would hope he uses rest of this season to get his guys ready for next year. This year was lost a while ago but tonight should make it official.I will leave the rest up to you in another ugly post game thread.