A few days ago, the results of a survey asking people in every state what their most hated college basketball team is came in, and the results are interesting...
Now some of you may have seen this before and figured hey, that's great, California doesn't hate UCLA basketball...well, at least not as much as the Wildcats over in Arizona. We must be doing something right! Well, looking back on the total lack of buzz surrounding the stretch run for last year's team, the thing we might be doing "right" is doing nothing noteworthy, and therefore doing nothing worthy of hate, scorn, or envy.
This was a team whose only quality win all season long was in the final game of the conference tournament, despite having 3 first round NBA draft picks on the roster. This is a program headed up by an a guy who defended an accused rapist and intimidated his victim, and whose hiring facilitated immense faculty and alumni backlash. This is a program that has veered away from the principles of John Wooden's Pyramid of Success and has installed #Daddyball in its place.
Now, the usual caveats here about the source of this survey surely apply. This was based off of the opinions of Reddit users, and going all in on that particular group has been known in the past to be fraught with peril (see: Boston Bomber). But what we do know is that this user base skews younger than the general population and is less tied down to the past and therefore less deferential to "traditional powers" like UCLA, Kansas, and North Carolina. What we're seeing is a snapshot of what the "new" power structure is in college basketball, and it looks like we're not in it. Who could blame anyone for coming to that conclusion after seeing #Daddyball and glorious Steve 16 flameouts in action?
Let me put it this way: There's no way the great state of California wouldn't have been painted Powderkeg Blue had this survey been done back when we were trucking a much stronger Pac-10 on the way to Final Fours. There was a lot to envy back then. Ben Ball Warriors, lockdown defense, and a sense of identity, hope, and optimism. Well, at least we have football now, because after that, revenue sport season in Westwood is over.