His team trailing 18-9 less than eight minutes into the game, Cronin called a timeout. Whatever he said, lit a spark in his players.
The Bruins tied the score with a 9-0 run, the beginning of what became a 20-4 run that gave UCLA its first lead. Eight of the 11 Bruins who played in the first half scored, though Stanford regrouped and outscored UCLA 11-2 to end the half leading 33-31.
That’s where the energy, the spark, the momentum – whatever you want to call it – ended for UCLA. The Bruins played the second half as if they had already lost the game.
The Daily Bruin’s Ryan Smith pointed out this was an alarming trend:
Despite trailing by just two points at the break, UCLA managed to score just 28 points in the second half against the top-ranked defense in the Pac-12. The Bruins also trailed by two points at halftime in their loss to the Trojans on Saturday, one week after blowing a double-digit lead in the second half at Washington State.
Coach Cronin was his typical blunt self in the post game press conference.
on continuation of second-half woes
“Yeah, as the game goes on, our softness shows up. Our selfishness, at times, is evident—and it’s been, probably, to people that watched us all year—on the offensive end. Some of the shots we take and the turnovers because certain guys don’t want to pass the basketball, but our lack of toughness as the games go on, you play against really good teams. It becomes a test of wills. Who’s going to make mistakes? They do a good job of taking care of the ball and eventually we just break down, defensively.”
According to the LA Times’ Ben Bolch, the “softness and selfishness” comments may have been directed at Prince Ali:
Cronin appeared to save some of his most scathing remarks for redshirt senior guard Prince Ali, though he never mentioned Ali by name. The coach replaced Ali with sophomore guard David Singleton in the starting lineup after saying that Singleton had completed his best two days of practice.
Singleton responded with 11 points, two assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes. Ali played just one minute, missing his only shot.
“We just have guys who refuse to listen and follow the rules, so therefore they don’t get to play,” Cronin said. “So if you want to ask me about a certain guy, that’s the answer. To be honest with you, I had to keep playing certain guys that I don’t even think they deserved it. But I didn’t want to put others back in, so I was running out of guys.”
This UCLA team may be soft and is certainly offensively challenged. But no one should forget how special UCLA is. And, no, it is not just Coach Wooden that makes UCLA basketball special, as last night’s best player Stanford’s Tyrell Terry said:
on playing in Pauley Pavilion
“It was just indescribable. You’ve had Russell Westbrook and Lonzo Ball playing here. I was very grateful. It was truly unreal.”
Go Bruins! Beat UC Berkeley.