It's never a good sign when most of the news coming out of your programs have nothing to do with playing the actual games. Once again, another bombshell overshadows an actual game with the news that troubled forward Reeves Nelson has been dismissed from the team. The silver lining, if there is one, for the remainder of the team is that he hadn't been contributing much anyway up to his dismissal, but it's hard to imagine that this kind of turmoil will be a net positive even if Nelson's absence helps team chemistry.
Nelson has been a polarizing figure throughout his time as a Bruin, and it was always difficult to determine the "best" way to handle him. There were his issues as a player; the sometimes brilliant play mixed with equal parts inconsistent effort. This was often conflated and paired with his issues as a person; the temper, blowing up at teammates, etc. It's a complex problem, but unfortunately here at UCLA it all traces back to the same root cause: a lack of accountability.
Reeves was not held accountable early in his career. Only recently have we seen Howland finally take a stand and use the bench as a disciplinary tool, but when you've let the inmates run the asylum for years, a sudden sharp turn to disciplinarian just rings hollow and feels like an empty gesture, not only to us fans but to his team. This isn't new. Not to Howland, and not to this athletic department.
We can talk all we want about Howland's continued and repeated failures at program management, and this season is a classic case of all of those failures coming to a head. But the sad mess that is the current state of the basketball program is just another extension of Chianti Dan's diseased culture of mediocrity and lack of accountability. One look at Chianti's capital projects tell the entire story. Revenue sports? Disaster is a kind word to describe them. Coaching search? Pauley Renovation? General facilities? Is there anything that this guy does correctly? The lack of accountability is pervasive throughout Chianti's athletic department, and it should surprise no one when that manifests itself in all facets and extensions of that department. This is why your Pauley renovation is subpar in design, execution, and funding. This is why legitimate first rate coaches have little interest in working for Chianti Dan. This is why the problem children in our basketball program continue to be the way they are with little to no improvement from year to year. Accountability. It's important. It's time to hold Chianti Dan accountable.