I was afraid this might happen, the way the basketball teams from UCLA and the University of Southern California have been playing of late.
I was afraid that the edge that the Trojans’ guards and forwards had over their Bruin counterparts would lead to a convincing USC victory in Pauley Pavilion this past Saturday.
I was proved to be right, as the Trojans rolled over UCLA, 67-46, in front of a crowd of 11,108 that was no doubt disgusted at what they saw.
Considering that the 21 point differential was USC’s largest over the Bruins since 1945 and their biggest ever at Pauley, one may wonder if the Bruin players really understood the magnitude of the crosstown rivalry.
It was like UCLA (2-3, 7-10 in the Pac-10 Conference) didn’t even try, like they laid down for their enemies from South Central L.A.
The final statistics certainly indicated that, as the Bruins put up a brick house big enough to solve L.A’s homeless problem in making just 15 of their 45 shots. They were out rebounded 37-22 and had only five assists to ‘SC’s 13 while committing 12 turnovers.
UCLA was likewise horrible in the paint, performing like Mini-Me as the Trojans (11-6, 3-2 in the Pac-10) bullied them around in outscoring them 28-14 in the key.
Nikola Dragovic was particularly pathetic as he scored a mere two points and missed all six of this shots from the floor, while his Balkan counterpart, Nikola Vucevic, had a career high 19 points.
Dwight Lewis was the real Bruin killer, however. He made five of nine three pointers on his way to a game high 24 points; he scored more than half of UCLA’s team total all by himself.
Any chance the Bruins had of being competitive in this hoops version of the crosstown war came to a screeching halt when ‘SC went on a 17-5 run to start the second half. After another Trojan run with five minutes left, the fans started heading for the exits in droves; it must have been like rats running from a sinking ship, because that’s exactly what UCLA was on Saturday.
And who could blame them?
Coach Ben Howland put it best when after the slaughter was over, he said, “I’m embarrassed for our team…the program, (the) former players and coaches.”
Quite the understatement, don’t you think?
It’s time for some harsh reality Bruin Nation: The players – if that’s what you want to call them – on this season’s edition of the UCLA basketball team are just not very good, mediocre at best. Some of them have the potential to be solid players in the future, but as for this year, forget it.
This team cannot shoot (especially from the charity stripe) or rebound consistently. Too many of them lack good fundamentals and they turn the ball over way too much; these Bruins have more turnovers than assists this year, sad but incredibly true.
All of that adds up to what will likely be the worst UCLA hoops squad in decades, maybe even worse than former coach Steve Lavin’s last team that went 11-19 in 2002-2003.
As much as it hurts me to do, I’m officially writing them off for this season.
Being that the Bruins’ next opponent is a Washington team that could well blow them out the way that USC did, I feel I have no choice.
I am sorry to say this, but these Bruins are in ruins.
At least for this year.