Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times has an article that should be a cause for concern for each and every Bruin basketball fan.
In the article, Bolch discusses how some fans have gone onto “message boards” to “demand harsh penalties” for the Hangzhou Three “including expulsion from school, if the allegations are proven to be true.”
Bolch continues by writing:
Others have used the episode to further question the coach who has repeatedly taken his team to what’s known among some fans as the “Steve 16,” a derisive twist on reaching a Sweet 16 that goes back to Steve Lavin’s years coaching the Bruins.
It’s become a familiar destination once more under Alford. His first four seasons at UCLA, those fans would tell you, have gone Steve 16, Steve 16, Losing Record, Steve 16.
Well, personally, this part of the article makes me happy for two reasons. I’m glad to see that Ben got the Steve Lavin reference right and I’m happy to see him point out that Alford has gone “Steve 16, Steve 16, Losing Record, Steve 16.”
That’s because there is no denying the fact Alford has NEVER taken a team past the Sweet 16.
But, that’s when the article gets really interesting. It’s also where it should piss you off because I know it pissed me off.
Asked whether he felt any pressure to go further, the ninth coach to succeed John Wooden did not sound like someone haunted by the banners hanging from the rafters above his home court.
He, then, quotes Alford:
There’s only six programs in the country that have done what we’ve done. Did we have one bad year? Yeah. But we’ve had three really good years.
I also know the history and I know the tradition here, but truth be told too, you’re talking about from ’75 to current, there’s been one national title. So I know that history too. It’s just we know what our expectations are and we’re going to play as hard as we can and do as well as we can.
Read that quote again. Go ahead. I will wait for you. In fact, re-read it several times.
If that doesn’t make your blood boil, it should.
UCLA’s Men’s Basketball coach Steve Alford, the guy who, as Ben Howland put it, is the “current caretaker of Coach’s program” is satisfied making the Sweet 16...the “Steve 16.”
This is the basketball equivalent of Terry Donahue’s old quote about hopefully, having a season where they can win the Pac-10 and make it to the Rose Bowl, instead of setting the expectation of winning a national championship.
And, that is what you get when Dan Guerrero hires and extends the contract of a UCLA Basketball Coach: managed expectations.
You know, I’m willing to forgive, to an extent, three freshmen kids who embarrassed themselves, their families, UCLA and the United States by causing what has become an international incident by allegedly stealing sunglasses in an authoritarian country. They’re young. They’re kids and kids do stupid things sometimes.
But, I am not willing to forgive a grown man in charge of the basketball program built by Coach John Wooden for saying, “from ‘75 to current, there’s been one national title. So I know that history too. It’s just we know what our expectations are....”
It’s as if he’s thumbing his nose at every Bruin fan that cares about basketball and saying, “Our expectations are different than yours. You have unrealistic expectations.”
And, Dan Guerrero, UCLA’s “esteemed” athletic director, just extended this guy’s contract another year.
It’s time for Dan, Steve and Jim all to go. Please contribute to the fund to make the voices of Bruin fans heard. As of this morning, it’s just about halfway to its $15K goal. It won’t fix everything that wrong with UCLA Athletics right now, but it will certainly be a start at fixing the mess that Dan Guerrero has created.