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News Roundup: Ben Howland's Last Pac 12 Game

Will the NCAA penalize the Bruins for not being deep.

Ben Howland may be losing more than his jacket soon
Ben Howland may be losing more than his jacket soon

Today's round up sums up both the good and bad of this year team. Basically this is a good group of kids playing hard but there is only six of them that play. Thus the Headlines are "Short Handed UCLA Goes Bust" or "UCLA Deep Sixed." But the bigger story may be the long term one.

The open secret is becoming less secret. Ben lost it last night because he needed to win for his job.

Angered by a charging call on Shabazz Muhammad late in the first half of the Bruins' losing battle with Oregon in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament, Coach Ben Howland could no longer endure the frustration.

In a bit of gymnastics as impressive as the Cirque du Soleil halftime show, Howland angrily spun and, in the same motion, removed his jacket and flung it high and far into the front row behind the Bruins' bench.

It was Howland's first technical foul in 10 years as UCLA coach. Then again, he's rarely been backed up against such a wall, his job on the line as his team heads into next week's NCAA tournament without Jordan Adams, its second-leading scorer who broke his foot in the final moments of the Bruins' emotional semifinal win Friday against Arizona.

. . . There is talk that the athletic department, for both basketball and business reasons, wants this season to be Howland's last. There is word that a $2.3-million buyout is already in place. There is a feeling that only a Sweet 16 appearance could save his job, and even that might not be enough.

First Wang and now even the LA Times is on it. Ben is likely gone after this season. Personally I don't think a sweet 16 is enough but the path there may be very tough. UCLA is not only playing the price on the court for not having Jordan Adams but off the court. According to bracket predictor Jerry Palm UCLA is a NINE seed. Palm obviously feels UCLA is not as good without Adams and that the NCAA will downgrade us.

I thought the players played well last night but were just too tired with six players (and a cameo from Parker) to come back three times in three days.

UCLA (25-9) was within two points at 54-52 with 12:07 to play, but following a UCLA timeout the Ducks (25-8) went on an 8-1 run for a 62-53 lead with 10:01 to play. UCLA did not get any closer than four points after that.

Arsalan Kazemi scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, including seven in the final 12:42 as Oregon held off any run UCLA made. The Bruins, who came back from double-digit deficits in each of their previous two games of the tournament, appeared to have one last run whenShabazz Muhammad scored to cut the Oregon lead to 68-62 with 5:08 to play. But Larry Drew missed a shot, Travis Wear failed on a dunk attempt and the Ducks held on.

. . .
Stat of the game: The Bruins, who have shot 72.7 percent from the free throw line for the season, made only 13 of 22 (59 percent) in the nine-point loss to Oregon.

What it means: The defeat, coupled with the loss of Jordan Adams to a broken foot, means UCLA will probably not get to play as close to home in the NCAA tournament as the Bruins had hoped. They will likely be seeded No. 5 or No. 6.

While Yoon may, as usual, be overly optimistic it is the excellent Jack Wang that breaks down the game, and the future best in an article worth reading:

A full week of practice might help the Bruins adjust to life post-Adams. UCLA wasn't only deprived of its second-leading scorer, but was also forced to alter its playbook. The Bruins only shot 41.4 percent in the first half, and had trouble with rotations on both the offensive and defensive end as many players spent more minutes in different positions. The team also didn't play a very efficient game with eight assists against 14 turnovers.

. . .

- Kyle Anderson said he didn't want feel as comfortable trying to defend the small forward spot after having spent most of the season guarding opposing power forwards. Small forward E.J. Singler only had eight points, but Carlos Emory came off the bench to score a game-high 20.

. . .Norman Powell did a decent job filling in the starting lineup, particularly on defense, and finished with 10 points after struggling in the first half. Still, the team had less than 24 hours to prepare a playbook without Adams, and couldn't adjust well enough even in the latter half of the game. . .

"Fatigue also set in for UCLA, which was reduced to a seven-man rotation as it played its third game in as many days. Five players received at least 30 minutes, while David Wear wasn't far behind with 25. Oregon only had one player - forward Arsalan Kazemi - eclipse that mark, and had eight players with double-digit playing time.

It is shocking to me that there is not even a single play for Powell. Powell has played a fair amount this year, it is not like Tony Parker becoming a starter. Of course on the Kyle as a three issue if zone was not a four letter word to Howland we would be so much better off right now.

Howland gets the last word for what seems likely to be his last PAC 12 game as UCLA coach:

They'll get at least one in the NCAA Tournament as the Bruins are a lock to be seeded somewhere in the Nos. 5-7 range. That seeding could very well depend on how the NCAA Tournament selection committee reacts to Saturday's loss and Adams' absence, as the committee has a history of downgrading teams that are affected by injury.

. . ."Our players have done nothing wrong to be penalized," Howland said.

The Bruins will find out their fate this afternoon, and with a disappointment in the Pac-12 Tournament final and optimism running dry about their chances in the Big Dance, the Bruins will have just a few days to bounce back from what was ultimately a frustrating end to their week in Las Vegas.

"We were fatigued tonight having played three games in three days in a row, and we need to get some rest in preparation for the NCAA Tournament," Howland said. "We know we're going to have one (opportunity), and now you're at sudden death."

I feel for Ben on the Jordan Adams injury, all Bruin fans do. But on the fact we were fatigued because Ben only played seven players all year and drove off two other ones who could really help; Ben needs to look in the mirror.

Go Bruins!