Gbruin could write something poetic here but that is not me. I will just say it was somewhat appropriate, ironic, poetic justice, etc. take your pick but UCLA's NCAA tourney chances ended when Bryce started missing free throws while the UC Berkeley crowd chanted "daddy's boy."
Since 1985, when the field expanded, UCLA has qualified for the NCAA tournament in all but six seasons. It is teetering toward a seventh. In what was close to a must-win game Thursday night, the Bruins lost to Cal, 75-63.
And Alford endured perhaps his worst game since early January, making four of 13 shots and missing four key free throws. He added only two assists.
Fans chanted "Daddy's boy" most times he touched the ball. He started one of seven. He briefly caught a rhythm late, and UCLA surged. Then his free-throw touch escaped him, and the run sputtered.
Alford is UCLA's assists leader, its second-leading scorer. But he has made only 27% of his shots on the road during conference games. The Cal crowd was particularly venomous.
I remember the days when UC Berkeley kids wore big ears and chanted "Cheryl" every time Reggie Miller touched the ball. Reggie loved it. However, Bryce admitted it might have rattled him a bit:
on adjusting to noise from fans in road venues
"For a regular person, I'd probably say that it would be pretty hard. But I feel like I'm used to it. I tune it out. Now, I start missing free throws and they start gaining steam like that, it's hard. It's very hard on you. But at the same time, I don't make any excuses for missed shots. I'm not a guy who listens to that kind of stuff. I've heard that kind of stuff all my life. It's something that I don't pay attention to. I don't hear it during games. I know that it's there, but I'm just trying to concentrate and make a shot."
As far as the game itself, UCLA started horrible and is now playing for a likely NIT bid:
Cal raced out to a 13-1 start behind a pair of 3-pointers from Brown following a pregame pep talk from ESPN analyst (and former UCLA All-American) Bill Walton and strong defense that forced UCLA to miss its first five shots and commit three turnovers on its first seven possessions before Hamilton made a floater to end the drought.
The Bruins tightened up defensively after that, holding the Bears to 2-for-15 shooting during one stretch to get back into the contest. But Cal used a flurry late in the half when Brown blocked Prince Ali on one end, leading to a 3-pointer by Bird at the other to build the lead back up and the Bears led 33-25 at halftime. The Bruins shot 33 percent in the first half and never led.
The loss assured that UCLA will finish without a winning record in conference play for just the fifth time since John Wooden took over in 1948-49.
My last add in the parade of bad facts, since John Wooden was hired, no UCLA coach has finished worse than fourth in their third season. (The coach that finished fourth, resigned after the season.)
Daddy Ball is going to end historically bad for UCLA this season and now Steve Alford seat is getting warm.