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Bruin Bites: California Hoops Game Day Edition

With Pac-12 conference hoops action getting underway tonight, we open up game day with a special Thursday morning the Bruin Bites round-up of the various bits and pieces from around the UCLA-iverse, while providing an early morning open thread before we turn to our Bruins taking on our UC brethren from Berkeley.

The Wears will need to repeat their Missouri performance if the Bruins are to have a chance against a well-coached Cal team led by Monty
The Wears will need to repeat their Missouri performance if the Bruins are to have a chance against a well-coached Cal team led by Monty

So, it begins today. No, not Pac-12 conference play, but rather, the final death march of the Ben Howland era at UCLA. Well, unless, Howland is able to keep this season from going to the crapper by miraculously putting together a run that culminates with the Bruins making it an even dozen in men's basketball national titles. Anything short of that, in the season that was supposed to be THE season, has to be viewed as falling short. Sadly, in Chianti Dan's world, finishing second in the conference, followed by a flame-out in the Steve Sweet Sixteen would be seen as an accomplishment.

Welcome back to the days of UCLA basketball under Steve Lavin. Wildly inconsistent, playing huge to upset teams they should get beat by, choking against vastly inferior opponents, nothing resembling a coherent offensive or defensive basketball strategy. Thanks to Chianti, hoops has now come full circle in the decade plus of his incompetent reign.

Did I mention that Cal is coached by Mike Montgomery? You know, that troublesome coach that has a 7-4 record over Howland (2-0 with Stanford, 5-4 with Cal). It'll be interesting to see how tonight's game shapes up because Monty has proven to be a pretty adept coach, often winning with inferior talent. So, with that said, let's turn to the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse for this game day morning:

  • Want to read a mediocre preview of tonight's hoops game? Look no further than the vanilla sunshine-pumping piece by Jack Wang in the Daily News. Beside telling us what we already knew (Shabazz is apparently pretty good!), it just reinforces the biggest loss in the UCLA-iverse: decent beat reporters who knew what they were doing (oh, where have you gone Jon Gold and Miguel Melendez?!). But then again, this is UCLA: the reporters know they can phone it in; hell, we let repeat-asshole-offender T.J. Simers to continue to have a press pass (good work Chianti).
  • Speaking of lame, in case you missed it, you can check out Howland's press conference at CBS Sports, during which he describes the upcoming Pac-12 conference season as a "dog-fight." Kind of sad that the head coach of the most-storied basketball program in America is referring to a very-weak conference schedule as a dog-fight. Anyone else remember when the conference was stocked with NBA-level talent (DC, AA, JF, LRMAM, KL, RW, Brandon Roy, Andre Iguodala, Derrick Williams, Channing Frye, Spencer Hawes, O.J. Mayo, etc.) and the conference was actually a dog-fight of talented teams?
  • Finally, if you wanted to keep tabs on a pretty good UCLA basketball team, you'd need to switch over to the ladies' side, as Coach Cori Close has her #16-ranked women's basketball team heading into Pac-12 conference play with a 9-2 record, a spot in the Top-25, and on the road against the Oregon schools, following a pair of big non-conference wins at Pepperdine and against St. Joseph's. We'll need the Lady Bruins to step up big because Westwood has some ground to make up in the race to 200 national titles since we finished 2012 without a single UCLA national title for the entire year. That's right: 2012 was a trophy-less season for Chianti Dan and his incompetent Morgan Center administration.

Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get this Thursday game day started. Fire away with your thoughts, comments, etc. in the open thread below.