OK I'm stating the obvious: UCLA, by their standards, stinks right now. They're also not very likeable.
A program so deeply rooted in tradition, Ben Howland is in an unenviable position of finding ways to annually reload, not rebuild. The problem with Howland, though, is an inability to convince top-tired high school players to buy in to a boring offense.
Just two weeks into the season, the Bruins have taken losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State right on the chin. Currently 0-3 against Division I teams, this is the first time since 1937 that the Bruins began their season with three consecutive double digit losses. The 20-point beatdown delivered by the Blue Raiders was particularly embarrassing because, well, Middle Tennessee State was supposed to leave Southern California with nothing more than a fat check.
While we shouldn't give UCLA a pass for their atrocious start, we also should be a bit more practical based on their current roster.
Omitting names, Howland is banking on the following personalities to bring a Pac-12 title to Westwood:
- A rugged forward who has been suspended multiple times for petty mishaps, and recently showed he was stubborn enough to miss a team flight to Hawaii.
- A McDonalds All-American who has done nothing but look like he's constantly eating McDonalds, all while fouling with high frequency and clanking nearly half his free throw attempts.
- Incredibly mild-mannered twins who felt uncomfortable with their roles at an equally as prestigious program on the East Coast, so they decided to transfer back home, together, to start anew.
The Bruins rotation is nothing to be intimated by, and the losses of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee appear to be far more crippling than originally suspected. With them, UCLA could probably threaten the top 10 all season long, with two guards who can create their own shot and bail their team out of broken offensive sets. Now it's up to a backcourt with minimal experience and offensive capabilities. Did you really expect this team to challenge all comers?