If John Wooden’s teams were defined by competitive greatness — being at their best when their best was needed — then the trademark of Steve Alford’s teams at UCLA were defined as not being at their best when their best was needed.
For that reason, last night, the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team proved that, while Murry Bartow might actually be drawing the X’s and O’s, this year’s Bruins are definitely a Steve Alford team.
All the Bruins had to do was win two games on the road to finish in the top four in the Pac-12 standings so that UCLA could claim a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament next week. So what did the Bruins do? They went out and lost to the Colorado Buffaloes by 25 points.
I don’t know who UCLA’s next coach will be, but I can tell you that it might take a while to remove that Steve Alford stank from the team.
That said, I’m pinch hitting for DCBruins this morning. So, let’s look at what’s being written about the last night’s loss.
I’m going to start with Ryan Smith’s article from the Daily Bruin. Smith opens his article by writing, “The Bruins failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity.” That might be the understatement of the year.
Smith also summed up the game in just one sentence: “The Bruins also entered the night with the highest scoring offense in the conference, but struggled to get much of anything going on the offensive end.”
The LA Daily News has an Associated Press article which also sums up the game pretty well: “Whatever spark UCLA had found during its three-game winning streak fizzled out Thursday night against Colorado.”
But, Ben Bolch of the LA Times is the only writer who makes the connection to how the team played last night and Steve Alford, even if he doesn’t mention Alford by name, when he wrote: “What the Bruins unveiled Thursday night at the Coors Events Center looked a lot like the team that had struggled to defend or master basketball basics over the season’s first 31⁄2 months before rolling off three straight wins at home.”
For what it’s worth, interim head coach Murry Bartow did a pretty good impression of Alford in his postgame interview. “We tried different lineups, we tried different rotations, we tried to play different defenses. We were in about four different types of defense, so we tried a lot of things,” Bartow said.
In fact, many of Bartow’s postgame quotes sound so Alfordian that you could probably take some of Bartow’s quotes from last night and mix them in with some of Alford’s postgame quotes from his time as head coach and then play a game of “Who Said It?”
For the today’s last word, let’s do that. Here’s our final quote today: “So, really in all phases of the game, they just outplayed us.” So, who said it — Alford or Bartow?
Yup. It was Bartow.
The Bruins now head to Utah for the final game of the regular season tomorrow at 4 pm PT.