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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Why Wait? Fire Alford Now

Only Bruin haters defend Alford now and even they say only one more year.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four-St. Bonaventure vs. UCLA
This should not happen to our UCLA players. Losing is one thing, embarrassment is another.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA did not just lose last night, they lost U.G.L.Y. It was bad. First, let me quote Bruins Sport Net:

The banner comment references two years ago when Alford had a losing season that should have gotten him fired. Any good coaches out there interested in coaching basketball’s premiere program?

And, lest you think I took one twitter feed, Scout’s Bruin Report Online took the unusual step of publishing a game review publicly (and not behind their paywall) by their Editor Tracy Pierson that reads more like a long letter to the editor on why Steve Alford needs to be fired:

UCLA ended its season on a very representative note.

Everything that is asserted about why Steve Alford’s UCLA program is mediocre was seen in that game.

And with all due respect to St. Bonaventure, it was disgraceful.

He added a brief analysis of the game that was damming:

There couldn’t be anything more nauseating than doing an analysis of that game; well, maybe you having to read one. But there are some elements of the game that are salient, since it was an apt microcosm of the UCLA program -- an unhinged, rudderless, directionless ship afloat in the sea of obscurity. All season long, the primary aspect of the team that was without structure or cohesion was the defense, but in this game the offense – the Steve Alford offense that was ballyhooed so much last season -- appropriately represented the program. In the Steve Alford offense there are obviously no restrictions on shot selection. Anyone can take whatever shot they want at whatever time. In semi-crunch time in the second half, Jaylen Hands took a three-pointer a few seconds into the shot clock. A few possessions later, Chris Smith, who is shooting 18.5% from three on the season, air-balled one from the corner – again not deep into the shot clock. Prince Ali threw a pass over the head of Kris Wilkes into the stands, a lazy one-handed pass to an unprepared Wilkes. There were so many drives to nowhere, and jump-to-passes. Against St. Bonnie’s zone, UCLA tried to only beat it with dribble penetration – and it was exactly what the Bonnies wanted, for Holiday and Crew to dribble into a collapsing zone against the Bonnies’ good defensive guards. There was never an attempt to beat the zone by passing. Not one play drawn up. St. Bonaventure doesn’t have a player over 6-6, while UCLA’s front line can go 7-0, 6-11 and 6-10, but there was never an offensive play designed to get UCLA’s bigs touches in the paint. Welsh took just five shots for the game. UCLA committed 20 turnovers.

While Tracy has his biases, he is a Bruin alumni and fan. The LA Times resident UCLA hater and Southern Cal sycophant Bill Plaschke took a break from the LA Times coverage bemoaning Southern Cal not getting in the tournament to say UCLA needs to keep Alford for one more year in his nauseating op-ed entitled ”UCLA simply got outplayed in its play-in game”:

This was Tulsa in 1994. This was Princeton in 1996. This was Detroit Mercy in 1999. This is also the first time in coach Steve Alford’s four UCLA tournament appearances that his team didn’t advance to the Sweet 16.

As with Jim Harrick and Steve Lavin in past early tourney exits, Alford will bear the brunt of the blame for this one. His team never adjusted to St. Bonaventure’s zone. His team just didn’t seem ready to play. That’s on him.

He’s done enough in five years, and has recruited well enough for next year, to survive what surely will be calls for his firing. But make no mistake, his career at UCLA will not survive another tournament game like this one. Harrick won the Pac-12 and had won the National Championship sandwiched between those loses. There’s no comparison there. We were not outplayed. We were out-coached. And, no, he has not done enough.

I could talk more about the actual game. But why? I don’t want to throw the players under the bus. (Well, maybe, I should mention Kris Wilkes overslept and was late for the bus on Monday, but that is besides the point.) There have been disappointing losses in the Tournament before. But, has there ever been a game where our second-best player, who is 6 inches taller than everyone on the other team spends most of the game at the three-point line and finishes with two points? Or, one where our best player goes 1 on 5 to end the game multiple times with the result that he fouls out?

We will have talent next year, but little experience. There is no way to argue that Alford will win the Pac-12 next year. Should we wait just in case Alford gets his personal best again, a Sweet 16? If you are a UCLA fan, that answer is easy. Banners, letter, emails, etc. whatever it takes to fire Alford.

Alford’s job was in trouble if we missed the tournament. As the “First Four” game is often called a play-in game, didn’t he really miss the tournament? Regardless, he needs to be fired.

Go Bruins!