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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Bruin Fans Wait for End of Alford Era

Frustration abounds among UCLA fans. After yesterday’s game, Dan Guerrero declined to comment.

NCAA Basketball: Liberty at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Normally, you get the UCLA Basketball News Roundup from DCBruins the morning after UCLA Bruins basketball games. This morning, I get to pinch-hit for him. So, if this seems a little more like the Sunday Morning Quarterback, you’ll have to forgive me.

I’m not going to bother quoting from Steve Alford’s postgame press conference today since I wrote an article all about it last night, but if you haven’t yet read that one. I highly recommend it.

I think we’ll start off today’s news roundup by demonstrating just how bad things have gotten for this year’s team. Ryan Smith of the Daily Bruin writes:

The Bruins’ early-season free-fall has reached a new low.

UCLA men’s basketball (7-6) suffered its fourth consecutive loss with a 73-58 home defeat to Liberty (11-4) on Saturday afternoon. The 15-point loss marked the largest home loss of coach Steve Alford’s UCLA career.

While yesterday’s performance was certainly hard to watch, I hadn’t realize that it was the biggest home loss of the Alford era. Who says Steve Alford can’t find ways to make UCLA history?

But the superlatives didn’t stop there.

An Associated Press story currently appearing on talks about Liberty’s confidence heading into yesterday’s game:

Lowell Cabbil Jr. and Liberty were confident going into Saturday’s game against UCLA that they could be another mid-major team to pull off an upset at Pauley Pavilion.

The Flames just didn’t upset the Bruins. Liberty dominated them en route to a 73-58 victory in what UCLA coach Steve Alford called the most disappointing loss in his 28 years of coaching.

For him to call yesterday’s game the most disappointing loss in his career shows one of two things: Either Alford has a short memory or he wasn’t adequately embarrassed the way he should have been after other embarrassing losses like the loss to Kentucky at the United Center in Chicago a few years ago.

How frustrating have things gotten for UCLA fans? Bruin fans started booing as team went into the locker room at the end of the first half yesterday. Joey Kaufman of the LA Daily News writes:

Frustration was already seeping from the crowd 7,456 at halftime as the Bruins fell behind, 34-26. When UCLA’s players and coaches left the bench to head toward the locker room, they were greeted by a chorus of boos from the fans in attendance.

That display by UCLA fans could not have been lost on Dan Guerrero. Ben Bolch of the LA Times notes that Guerrero was in attendance at yesterday’s game. He writes:

When it was over, the UCLA crowd’s halftime booing replaced by quiet resignation over another humiliating defeat, Steve Alford and Dan Guerrero walked toward a doorway leading to the locker room inside one corner of Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins coach and his boss were separated by only a few feet but did not acknowledge each other’s presence, Guerrero stopping to chat briefly with an athletic department official as Alford continued through the doorway. Guerrero soon followed.

Alford might want to hope he doesn’t hear from Guerrero in the coming days because it could signal the end of his five-plus seasons in Westwood.

Bruin fans can only hope that Alford does hear from Guerrero and, in fact, the sooner the better.

But Bolch knows that might not happen either. He continues a little later by saying:

In-season firings are rare at UCLA, though it seems as if discontent with Alford has reached a critical mass given the lackluster attendance at Pauley Pavilion and the growing number of notable alumni willing to criticize him publicly.

Guerrero declined to comment through a school official, but Alford had plenty to say after his team compounded the recent embarrassment of losing at home to Belmont, another small program that’s not supposed to challenge the Bruins (7-6).

And that, my friends, brings us to where we are this morning: Waiting for a sign of any kind that Alford is going away.

It almost feels similar to how the College of Cardinals in Rome select a new pope with gray smoke turning to white when the new pope has been selected as millions around the world await news. It is one of the closest things we get these days as a sign from God.

Speaking of God, we don’t usually bring up the topic of religion here on Bruins Nation as it can be a divisive topic, but, given that UCLA basketball lost to Liberty University yesterday and that Liberty is a private Christian university founded by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, I’m kind of wondering if Steve Alford got the message sent yesterday by his “audience of one” because, to Bruin fans, that message was pretty clear: Alford must go.

Now, we wait for Alford’s real audience of one to act. Dan Guerrero, you’re up! The fact that you opted to stay silent instead of offering your usual “I’ll evaluate Steve at the end of the season” comment gives us all hope that a change may be imminent.

I’m going to give the last word today to Ryan Phillips, who writes for USA Today’s The Big Lead. Phillips writes:

Someone needs to rescue a one-proud UCLA program from the malaise that’s been created by Steve Alford.

Bruin fans will continue to wait impatiently until the puffs of smoke over the Morgan Center turn white.

Go Bruins. Fire Alford now.