Last night, the UCLA Bruins lost 83-72 to Arizona State Sun Devils in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12, but that is not the real story. In a very real sense the best reporting belongs to Ben Bolch of the LA Times who asks and answers the relevant questions:
The Bruins (17-16) decided they would not accept a bid to the NIT, which was unlikely anyway, preferring to shift the focus to finding their next coach and learning how much of their roster would come back next season.
I was not considering the NIT. We are legitimately not good enough but the NIT which has criteria since the NCAA took it over. The other tournaments the CIT, CBA, SUCK or whatever they are called was the worry. But we are done. We are not going to play in the postseason.
Next, who is leaving? The first is obvious. Murry Bartow said, in response to a question about if he’d like to remain as the Bruins’ permanent head coach, gave the only answer:
No, they’ll hire another coach. They’ll hire a very good coach,
Maybe Tyus comes back, but, honestly, I would be surprised to see any of the assistant coaches back. The coaching staff will be different for 2019.
Now, let’s talk about the coaching search. Jon Wilner, the dean, and the best, of the Pac-12 writers, has a must-read story where he makes the case for UCLA hiring Tony Bennett:
One by one, the UCLA players exited T-Mobile Arena, walked slowly down a ramp and boarded the team bus. One hour after a forgettable season ended in listless fashion, the door closed, the engine roared and the bus rumbled away into the cool Nevada night.
Now, it’s time for the Bruins to back up the truck.
One of the most storied programs in college basketball must make every effort to hire the coach most likely to return UCLA to its proper place on the sport’s pantheon.
Whatever it takes, whatever the wait, whatever the cost, UCLA must hire Tony Bennett.
And that is what the focus is on now. Read Dimitri’s coaching hot board. That is the story now. This chapter is closed on the Alford mediocrity.
On the other hand, which players will stay? That is not known right now. Bolch writes:
It was hard for the players to exchange goodbyes in the locker room with so much uncertainty hovering over nearly half the roster.
Hands, Wilkes, Moses Brown, Chris Smith and Cody Riley all could declare for the NBA draft.
“I’m not worried about anything about the future right now,” Wilkes said. “I’m just trying to stay with my team, stay with them now, and whatever happens, happens.”
Before we get into another “no way they get drafted” discussion keep in mind the statement was could declare for the draft. In fairness to the kids, they don’t even know who is coaching them next year.
The 2018-19 season is done. I’m excited for a real coach who will bring the Bruins back where they belong.