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Ending leaves a sour taste

March 28, 2009

It wasn't playing Villanova in Philly, nor was it whatever other preemptive excuse du jour Bill Plaschke had already cooked up. UCLA had just one problem Saturday: The Bruins had peaked too soon. Although playing in only the second round, Coach Howland already had his team in Final Four form.

Mark Backstrom, Redondo Beach

Gentle Ben complained about Villanova having "home court" advantage and knowing where all the "dead spots" were on the floor. His gutty little Bruins were defeated due to lack of the home cooking they've gotten the previous three years.

By the way, the only dead spot on the floor in Philly was the Bruin bench.

John Mark

Newport Beach

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USC didn't lose to Michigan State because fouls weren't called when it would have been convenient for them.

They're out because of the tendency of college players to shoot three-point shots, the lowest percentage of all attempts, at inappropriate moments. Whether it's ego, or inability to add, collegiate players have been seduced by this glamour shot, and their teams fall right and left.

USC was down by four, less than two minutes to go. What did they do? Went for the lowest-percentage shot. SC doesn't need a new coach. It needs new math instructors.

Michael Jenning

Van Nuys

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Like the adage goes, you can't teach height. Or intensity. The problem with UCLA doesn't lie in coaching, but in recruiting. There's nothing wrong with landing heralded guards and forwards, but if the Bruins ever expect to win and bang with the big boys, Coach Howland and his staff better start searching for more players who can ably clog the paint and have ravenous appetites for rebounds.

If this doesn't happen, UCLA may as well start lowering its standards and initiate raising Round of 32/Sweet 16/Elite Eight/Final Four banners instead of the other ones that we're all used to seeing in the Pauley rafters.

Mark J. Featherstone

Windsor Hills

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When UCLA was going to the Final Four, and the Bruins were losing players early to the NBA, it was because the coach was doing a great job. If one accepts that premise, then losing so badly in the second game of the tournament this year would also have to be ascribed to the coach.

Wonder what next year's edition will be with the loss of three starting seniors, and the possibility that a player or two may leave early or transfer?

To the seniors who have finished their careers at UCLA, Josh, Darren and Alfred, thanks for all the good memories.

Barry Levy

Hawthorne

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All Jrue Holiday needs to do is watch tape of his lack of effort against Villanova (and other games this year) to make the easy decision to return. He is not even ready for minor league pro hoops yet.

Steve Owen

San Diego

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Watching the heartless Bruins go through the motions for 40 minutes the other day was one for the ages. The national recruiting university was exposed and quite frankly embarrassed. On the other side I could not help notice the poise and determination the Trojans had against Michigan State. They lost their best player to foul trouble and almost pulled off an upset. It's too bad the referees had something to say about the outcome. The Trojan faithful should be proud of the fine group of warriors Coach Floyd put out on the floor.

Armando Valdez

Montebello

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Please let me translate Bill Plaschke's article on UCLA: "WAAAAAAAAAA, WAAAAAAAAAA!" I thought T.J. Simers was the official whiner on your paper.

Murray Rubinstein

Los Angeles

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You've got to give Rick Neuheisel some credit. Now we know. When he said, "The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over," he was only off by a "foot."

Bill Asher

Los Angeles

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While I appreciate what Ben Howland has done for the UCLA basketball program, I wonder if he will ever get UCLA over the hump. It is not just the 20-point thrashing against Villanova, it is the fact that Ben appears to have no Plan B when his way is not working.

Oh, and Ben, there is this thing called a zone defense that you might want to have in your bag of tricks.

Daniel Michael

Adrian, Mich.

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You know when USC basketball is getting such hate mail from UCLA fans [March 21], they must be doing something right!

Craig Dorsey

Rancho Santa Margarita

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