This News Roundup will mostly focus on where UCLA basketball under Steve Alford is right now.
But first let's get a quote out on the game:
As center Tony Parker said Wednesday night, UCLA's struggles have become a "broken record."
The Bruins fell to Oregon, 76-68, in yet another game that showed off the team's now-unsurprising inconsistency. In the first half, they held the league-leading Ducks to 35.7 percent from the field, while shooting 54.8 percent. In the second featured almost a mirror image: Oregon rose up to 54.8 percent, while UCLA slid down to 42.9.
This season is over, the only question now is the "Steve Alford Daddy Ball" era over? Today I want to focus on two arguments. One of the foremost PAC 12 REPORTERS and analysis, Jon Wilner, vs. famous UCLA hater, wanna be TV personality with a face for radio and largely fiction writer, Bill Plaschke.
Plaschke hates UCLA fans and UCLA, so of course he went to the game last night. Plaschke lays out his case why Steve Alford is a good coach and UCLA is lucky to have him.
Do you know how many other teams besides Alford's Bruins have been to the Sweet 16 in each of the last two seasons? Five.
Do you know what is currently the longest streak of Sweet 16 appearances? Four.
Plaschke hated Howand when he was going to the final fours because defense was boring. So, yep, sweet 16 baby. Speaking of Howland, maybe Howland had something to do with those sweet 16s as Wilner points out UCLA went from 28 wins (and sweet 16) to 22 wins (and barely in the tourney but a sweet 16) to 15 wins. The Steve Alford trend line is going down like Plaschke's hair line. The further Alford gets from Howland the worse UCLA gets.
But let's continue with another quote from the clueless hater:
He acknowledged that the growing pains of this year's freshmen, combined with the recent loss of future NBA players Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine and Kevon Looney, have left his team undermanned. He won't say it, but Aaron Holiday, Prince Ali, Jonah Bolden and Alex Olesinski are all still in various stages of development and need more time.
"When we lost what we lost, there's going to be a transition year," he said. "Some of these guys aren't ready to do what we're asking them to do.
. . .
Alford also won't say it, but he was hoping for more veteran leadership, and has been let down by the lack of progress from Tony Parker, his only senior, who has struggled defensively.
No, this is not a young team in transition this is a Steve Alford team as Wilner explains.
It would be one thing if Alford had a young team that was playing better in late February than it did in late January. But the Bruins are playing worse now than they were, and it's not a young team.
The top three scorers (Isaac Hamilton, Bryce Alford and Tony Parker) are upperclassmen. That's not a young team, folks.
Of course, clueless fishwrap writer also talks about the great recruiting class. Wilner the sage addresses that while saying a good recruiting class can turn a team around for a year, there is a lot of long term damage:
Step back, consider the backdrop, and the situation appears even more dire: The Bruins have lost considerable ground within the conference and within the city they owned until recently. Two double-digit losses to USC is worse than inexcusable.
Yet look at the teams ahead of the Bruins in the standings, and it's tough to make the case that Alford is getting the most out of his roster.
If you're a UCLA hater, Alford is your man. Next year's recruiting class may get us back to the sweet 16. But if you are a UCLA fan you have to think back to the last time UCLA was this bad:
For the Bruins, a loss in their regular-season finale to Oregon State, would add another disappointing distinction. They would be 6-12 in the Pac-12, equaling their worst conference record since Wooden was hired.
In 2002-03, the final season of Steve Lavin's tenure, they finished 6-12 in the Pac-10. He was fired that March.
Yep, with Howland recruits and trained players, Steve Alford can take UCLA to the sweet 16 with some luck. But with his own players, Alford's only hope is to recruit like Lavin. The worst part of this is he is exactly where Lavin was when he was fired. (Oh keep in mind in his third season Holwand had UCLA playing for the championship.)