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Bad Poetry In Westwood: What Howland Needs To Do To Salvage The Season He Has Been Wasting At UCLA

Let's tie up a loose end on home page before going to some scattered hoops reflections on this wasted season (yes, it is a wasted season barring a miracle run in the conference tournament which is not going to happen). Malcolm Lee attempted to explain his much discussed tweet from Fri, which only raised even more questions:

"They said you're trying to stir stuff up, and I was like, ‘No,'" Lee said Saturday. "That's just a phrase from the poetry I've written called, ‘Muzzle.' It don't got nothing to do with basketball. It's just talking about society as a whole."

Yeah, so we are just suppose to think it has to do with his thoughts about "society" when it specifically addresses last two years and was shared through a social media outlet which he uses to talk about his basketball game (A LOT). Okay then. I will leave Malcolm alone and not push it any further, but needless to say it just doesn't look good for Lee and his basketball program.

Speaking of not looking good without any "explanation", this post game comments pretty much says all we need to know (yeah, emphasis ours):

"I just don't know what's going on," Dragovic said about the Bruins' home struggles.

He wasn't alone.

"I don't have explanation why we're not finishing games at home," guard Malcolm Lee said.

Poetic. Indeed. More after the jump.

At this point Ben Howland (and his blind followers who are starting to sound like bunch Bill & Ted blindos) has no justification to offer for why Dragovic's has been offered 30+ minutes in this awful starting rotation.

Unfortunately, we have also reached a stage in the season when the damage has been done as Howland's mismanagement probably has shattered the possibility of any kind of confidence Brendan Lane, Mike Moser, and J'Mison Morgan could have built up by playing decent minutes earlier in the season (given the results to date they could not have done any worse than the current bunch).

Still if Howland does care about the holding on the plummeting support around him in the Bruin Nation (and trust us we have been more fair and reasonable to him than number of other venues over the years), he needs to drop his stubbornness and loosen up his rotation. At this point here is how I would have the starting unit set up:

  • PG: Jerime Anderson (he can't do any worse than our pitbull)
  • SG: Michael Roll (makes more sense to have at the 2 on offense)
  • SG/SF: Malcolm Lee (put him at the 2 spot on defense and then let him attack on offense)
  • PF: Tyler Honeycutt 
  • C: Reeves Nelson

Off the bench in order

  • Nikola Dragovic (give backup 10-15 mins to Honeycutt, his minutes need to be on the lower end unless he magically displays his "shooting" touch which makes an appearance once every blue moon)
  • James Keefe (give backup 10-15 mins to frontcourt, especially at the 5 spot)
  • Mustafa Abdul-Hamid (give backup 15-20 mins giving Anderson/Lee needed rest)
  • Brendan Lane (give him AT LEAST 10-15 minutes in the front court for rest of the season)
  • Miker Moser (give him 10-15 minutes in the backcourt especially at home games).

I don't have Morgan up there right now because it doesn't sound like he is healthy. If he is 100 percent, then he should burn into Keefe's backup minutes.

At this point rest of this regular season is worthless. People can hold on to their delusion of Bruins being in "contention" all they want, but the reality is we are not going anywhere. We are going to get humiliated in Seattle, Tucson and also most likely in Tempe and at the Costco Center this coming week. We will probably lose in Pullman and might even drop one of the last games at Pauley because the team will be utterly demoralized by that point.

So, this presents Howland a golden opportunity to treat this like an exhibition season getting the team ready for next year, giving kids like Lane, Moser, Morgan, Abdul-Hamid much needed minutes and give rest of the returning starters as much positive reinforcement as possible to get them excited about coming back. Otherwise, if Howland continues to waste this season away by sticking to his stubborn rotation and reward so called basketball players who have not bothered to show up on the defensive end game after game this season, then he will have all but squandered away the vast amount of good will he has built up over the years.

And that's just the thoughts around rotation management. We haven't discussed the issues around his coaching staff yet.  Seems like there are lot of legitimate questions we can raise around the current group of assistants (except for Donny Daniels) who have not been inspiring since the departure of Kerry Keating. It is something we are going to talk about perhaps down the line in next few days, weeks or months. It is going to be very interesting to see whether Howland takes measures to address it after the season is over.

Ben Howland is not on the hot seat yet.  However, the way he has managed this team this season, he is getting to that point at an alarming rate. I really hope he does a little self reflecting (like he did realizing what was apparent to everyone else that he needed to zone), and figure out the steps he need to take not just to win back his team but all the extended UCLA basketball community around him. Otherwise, we are going to be looking at more bad poetry rest of this season, the ugly effects of which will carry over to next season.