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UCLA is Defenseless to Reporters’ Hyperbole

The writers were in a frenzy describe how bad UCLA’s defense was in their loss to Arizona

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at UCLA
“No bruin could keep any wildcat from dribbling into the lane”
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Usually in news roundups I try to tell the story of the game. This time I will just quote the reporters’ and writers’ opinions in UCLA’s 96-85 loss.

First UCLA hater-in-chief Bill Plaschke:

Sure, it was a wakeup call, except the phone reached over and punched them in the gut.

Yeah, it was a teaching moment, except it ended with them curled up under a blackboard and spitting out chalk. . . .

Call it what you will, but in their biggest home moment of the season, the Bruins and their aura were knocked out by a big and skilled Arizona team that took the lead for good with about five minutes left in the first half and spent the rest of the game pounding serious truths into college basketball’s fun zone.

Plashcke was typical of reporters who took the game as a chance play wordsmith. (Being Plashcke, he had to take a shot at the fans, which I omitted.) Other reactions included Ben Bolch, probably the best writer covering UCLA, joined in the game:

The defensive deficiencies hidden for much of the season by UCLA’s outer-space offense were fully unmasked Saturday, like an unsightly scar.

They were hideous. They were everywhere. They looked like they might be permanent. . .

Where to start with UCLA’s defensive issues? Got a half hour?

The other regular writer, Clay Fowler, was the least hyperbolic but arguably the most correct:

UCLA’s offensive exploits are responsible for the outpouring of praise from around the country for the program’s resurgence.

UCLA’s defensive shortcomings are responsible for both of its losses.

CBS put in perspective what it meant:

The Bruins have been one the real darlings of college basketball this year, and rightfully so. They score like crazy, and Lonzo Ball is ahead of his time. But their defense is not great, or even good, and after falling to Arizona, the chances of UCLA earning a No. 1 seed are all but done now.

So far, the only really good win for UCLA was at Kentucky Wildcats -- which, to be fair, is one of the best wins in the country this year. But there isn't much more than that, and they're now two games back of Oregon Ducks and Arizona in the Pac-12. Not a lot of opportunities for UCLA to build that resume back up to one-seed status.

Let’s close with a columnist from that other newspaper wrote:

Contrary to shared belief, UCLA (19-2) is not getting automatically buzzed into the Final Four. They don’t get preferential treatment just because they are more fun to watch than bull riding. The Final Four is not determined by fan vote. At least not yet.

Whatever it was, no Bruin could keep any Wildcat from dribbling his way into the lane. The fact that the Bruins kept trying to play man-to-man, for the most part, was assuredly dissected in the cars that left Westwood before the final buzzer.

The world knows UCLA can lose. How UCLA handles that revelation.....well, that’s how the world works.

Winning the Pac-12 and a number one seed may be out of UCLA’s hands now. But, UCLA can certainly get better and should still go far in the tournament. It is up to Steve Alford to get this team to fulfill its potential.