Remember all the stuff we heard about "winning the conference"? Finally being ranked again (as if that's some huge accomplishment)? The team "gelling" and making a run in the NCAA Tournament? What would The Doubters do? The Howlers could barely contain themselves with hypotheticals of what could be.
Now, in the wake of a Washington State Cougar dismantling of our gelling, hot, ranked, conference contending Bruin team, there is little to crow about. There are no excuses for this. Before the game, we found out that the Cougars would be without two starters, Mike Ladd and DeVonte Lacy, who also just so happen to be the second and third leading scorers on a team that already has such huge problems putting the ball in the basket. Those two account for a third of the Cougar's offensive output. Then the game happened, and 12 minutes in, the Bruins were staring at a 25-4 deficit. Since Howland has abandoned any pretense of trying to get his guys to play tough defense, we should have known by then that a 21 point hole would be too much to overcome.
I guess that's not entirely accurate. Howland actually went to a zone to close the first half in his version of throwing the kitchen sink at the problem, and you know something? It was actually somewhat effective. It dared the Cougars to do things that they were not comfortable doing and made it just a little more difficult to find their backdoor cutters. UCLA actually closed that gap to 11 points at halftime. So given the success his team had just had with zone, I think we all know what defensive scheme we used to open the second and to ride out the game: Man to Man, and from there it was truly over. Washington State continued to get easy shots and offensive rebounds, just like virtually every other opponent we've played, and the embarrassment was complete in a 73-61 Cougar victory.
And so it goes.
UCLA, having just broken into the rankings, showed once again that even this small level of success was too much to handle.
Washington State, having not beaten the Bruins at home in two decades, see that sorry mark go down in history.
Washington State, losers of 9 straight, 11 of their last 12, 14 out of 16, last place in the PAthetiC-12, now have their victory over Ben Howland.
UCLA, which followed up the win at Arizona with a -20 spanking on the boards against Arizona State, now follows up another win against Arizona with a -23 rebounding margin (18 offensive) against Washington State, a team ranked 251st in rebounding.
This is the team that's supposed to have all the momentum going into March?
In the interest of accountability, I have to apologize to one of our readers, Kenneth Powers, who tried to set me straight when he said the line was UCLA -3 and I couldn't believe it. Obviously that was quite generous to us. Now I'll wait for the Howlers to come back, tail between their legs, and admit they either don't watch our games or have no idea what they're talking about, or both. But I don't expect that to happen, so I'll settle for them keeping their mouths shut. Forever.