UCLA Coach Ben Howland talks to former Bruins forward Reeves Nelson during… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Ben Howland has been exposed as wholly unwilling and/or afraid to stand up to his recent star recruits (almost none of whom become star players until they wind up at another program or the NBA). No need to any longer assign the blame to AAU ball for over-indulging entitled hoopsters when the UCLA coach just does more of the same on a grander scale and higher level. And a 54-year-old "coach" allowing his inked-up thug to outright bully much smaller players speaks so lowly of character that anyone with a sense of decency would distance himself from the current program.
Regarding the recent criticism of Howland's program and his lack of disciplining the athletes, one question popped into my mind: How were these kids raised? They come to the program as young men, 18 years old, with clearly a pattern of behavior that has either been accepted or ignored by their parents. What are the parents' responsibilities for their kids' behavior? I am not saying what occurred was right, I am saying these kids were raised by parents for 18 years and no one is saying a word about that fact.
Stop the presses! Imagine, UCLA basketball players actually indulging in recreational drugs and alcohol, frequenting forbidden off-campus parties, rejecting authority and otherwise rebelling against their hard-nosed and strict disciplinarian coach — who conveniently looks the other way, as long as said star players are "producing." Sounds to me like the John Wooden teams, circa 1965-1975. But the difference is, no Papa Sam Gilbert firmly in tow for today's baby Bruins.
The revelations about UCLA's basketball program in Sports Illustrated may not be damning because they don't reach the level of crimes that would result in NCAA sanctions — at least according to Bill Plaschke.
But as a UCLA alum that wasn't my first reaction. The real crime is that Dan Guerrero hasn't met the same fate as USC's Mike Garrett.
Fellow alums, don't let the USC alumni be the smart ones: Let's get rid of Guerrero before he buries UCLA athletics so deep that no one will be able to resurrect the program.
I remember the last time Sports Illustrated reported the UCLA basketball program was in "chaos": 1979, "The Bruins Are in Ruins" and a picture of a befuddled Larry Brown at courtside. The status of the basketball program aside, the big question is how much money did the Kentucky boosters and John Calipari pay for this story?
Ben Howland needs to set expectations and show consequences if a student-athlete is to stay on the UCLA basketball team. He can start by telling Josh Smith that if he shows up next season out of shape and not ready to play, he'll be off the team. Then he has to follow through.
Here is the recipe for UCLA road losses. Play tough, hard defense in the first half, but keep the opponent in the game with inept offense. Then watch the opponent make offensive adjustments while you make none, allowing them to pull away in the last five minutes of the second half. Simply put, Ben Howland doesn't know how to coach offense.
Park it right here
I have been going to Dodgers games since my dad took me to my first game at the Coliseum. I will not go to a Dodgers game as long as the McCourts have anything to do with the parking. We still enjoy going to a game: Now I get downtown early, park in the Union Station lot, hop the train and get off in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim center field parking lot.
Because boycotting the parking lot does no good in that Frank McCourt still gets millions for the lease, hopefully the new owners of the Dodgers will have enough money left to purchase and build a stadium (with a parking lot) elsewhere near the city. Then come April 30 Mr. McCourt can enjoy his parking lot and do with it whatever makes him happy, maybe purchase a scooter and drive around an empty stadium as often as he pleases.
I was amused to read that Don Mattingly thinks the Dodgers-Angels rivalry is "kind of like the Mets and the Yankees." He implies that the Dodgers play the role of the Yankees.
Don, there is a monumental difference. The Dodgers haven't been World Series champions since 1988! That's 24 years that L.A. fans have been disappointed in their local team. I mean even the Angels won in 2002.
I believe a more realistic comparison for city domination would be the Cubs and White Sox, the Dodgers, of course, playing the role of the Cubbies.
Don Mattingly is absolutely right about L.A. being a Dodgers town. Unfortunately, it's also the town of corrupt ownership, unruly fans, and $15 parking. Don't get me wrong. I love L.A. … of Anaheim.
Enough about Matt Kemp. One season doesn't make a Hall of Famer.