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|Travis Wear and UCLA took another tumble with Thursday night's disappointing loss at Washington.|
The Bruins’ visit to Hec Edmundson Pavilion last year was the quintessential Howland timeout game. He burned through three timeouts in the first half and had used up all five of them by the 12:57 mark of a close game. When Howland took his first timeout 2:32 into Thursday’s ballgame, it looked like we were headed for a repeat. Instead, the UCLA coach showed surprising discretion, added by his team’s ability to stem any Washington momentum with timely scores.
Howland took a pair of timeouts to the five-minute mark, then used one with 4:38 to play to set up his defense after a score, giving him one to burn. He never used it.
Remarkably, the Bruins found themselves in precisely the sort of situation for which most coaches save their timeouts. After a Terrence Ross miss, UCLA took possession down two with 26 seconds remaining. The Bruins came down and got into their offense, even after the Huskies took away any opportunities for transition or the secondary break. The resulting play was a mess. Freshmen guard Norman Powell eventually got the ball in the corner. Powell, who was in the game only because Tyler Lamb had fouled out, driving for a contested pull-up jumper with three seconds left. When he missed, time ran out before the Bruins could secure the rebound or foul.
|Ben Howland has taken UCLA to three Final Fours, but some fans are calling for change at the helm.|
I take no joy in calling for Ben Howland's firing. I really don't. But, when you look at the numbers, it's clear that Ben hasn't gotten the job done, at least not to the level UCLA deserves. That said, it's about more than the numbers, but it's about something happened this season that made me realize, on a deep, visceral level, that Howland had to go.
I stopped believing in Ben Howland.
I no longer have the confidence that everything will turn out okay for UCLA. I no longer believe that Ben can guide us to the pinnacle of college basketball. I don't have faith in Ben, not anymore. I can't point to any particular reason, or any particular point in time where that happened: I just know it did. I lost faith. I stopped believing in Ben. The magic is gone.
I could care less about watching our basketball games, because it's just painful. It hurts to see the shell of a formerly great coach flail about with a mediocre team (that he is solely responsible for building), unable to adjust, unable to find a way to win, and unable to bear any resemblance to the outstanding coach that made UCLA a dominating force in college hoops.
When you look at schools like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and the other elites, the fans have something we don't: a belief in their coach. Deep down in every Blue Devil, Tar Heel, Jayhawk, etc. is the belief that, even in a bad, rebuilding season (which for these guys, still always result in at least a NCAA tournament appearance), that Coach K, Williams, or Self would right the ship.
Howland, on the other hand, lost that. It's sad.