UCLA Basketball: Bruins lose to St. John’s; Ben Howland must go

It might be because I’m frustrated. It might be because I no longer have feeling in my face. And it might be because I want to punch my own testicles and tell myself I deserve it.

But this game — UCLA’s loss to St. John’s in New York — has me convinced that Ben Howland has to leave Westwood.

The entire season has been something of a waste — neither of the Wear Twins have progressed, Josh Smith has progressed marginally and insignificantly, our guard play is still an issue and we still haven’t nabbed the top recruit in the nation in Shabazz Muhammad — and as such, I can’t see Howland coaching past this season, nor should he.

That’s the pragmatist in me speaking, and Mr. Carlos Pragmatist is pissed. Losing on a sorry excuse for a box-out that led to an easy tip-in to put St. John’s up by four with just seconds remaining hurt. But when UCLA forced a missed shot with three seconds to go and down by three? And when they actually grabbed the board and had to heave a three-quarters court shot to even have a prayer? To not have that time-out available to set up something a little less stupid?

That’s on Ben Howland.

Mind you, this shouldn’t be seen as some sort of agreement with that crap-ass blog down the street — in the ghetto of the Internet — called “bruinsnation.” The way they go about things is probably as childish as it was three years ago, and if you, the reader, still wanted to keep Howland, I’d respectfully disagree rather than resort to calling you a “Howler” or some other unoriginal, boring insult that everyone seems to laugh at because the main dawg will ban you if you don’t laugh at his horrible jokes.

Rather, objectively, this loss stunk. And so have our other losses, as well as some of our wins. Our team has checked out of games late, early, and everything else in between. Our defense — which has moved from man to zone to “spectator defense” throughout the season — has been inconsistent and downright frustrating. And on offense, our incredible amount of jumpshots and erratic passing has been suicide-inducing.

Yes, Ben Howland has gotten us to three Final Fours. Yes, we’re on the cusp of nabbing the best recruiting class this school has seen in quite a while. And yes, Howland’s termination means we’re still $2 million in the hole while also paying another coach $4 million while Howland sits at home and watches the game from his couch. And yes, Dan Guerrero — the athletic director that definitely needs to go back to CSU–Dominguez Hills or some other not-Division-I school — will definitely muck up any process to find a new basketball coach.

But someone needs to go. Dan Guerrero is the guy who should have been held accountable five or ten years ago, but at this point, if someone jams, it would mean that UCLA is at least acknowledging that our two major sports teams are flailing.

Of course, this is just me. A face-reddening loss to St. John’s was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the entire body of work — this season, the previous season, and the season before that — hurts. We know Howland is doing his best, but we also know he’s a little too stubborn to adapt. History dictates that, after four years of disappointing season, coaches don’t recover.

And I don’t expect Howland to.

I’ll leave it up to you, though, because like other blogs — which are way, way less mature (and this coming from a blogger who likes to be silly and say stupid things) and far less rational than we are, here, at Go Joe Bruin — we care about what all of our readers think.

After a couple of weeks of thinking about it, does Ben Howland need to go?

Should Ben Howland be fired?

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Topics: Ben Howland, Bruinsnation Sucks, St. John's, UCLA Basketball

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  • BruinBob

    I know it’s been a painful season, but Howland didn’t just suddenly forget how to coach. The problem I see is lack of experience and leadership on the court. Reeves Nelson would have brought that but he’s gone so the responsibility falls on Anderson. He does his best, but honestly this looks like a young team out there and playing on the road is where experience really helps. I think we need to gulp down the bad taste of this season and hope Josh Smith sees the light and gets himself game ready (and NBA ready) for next Fall.

    • carlosatUCLA

      @BruinBob I see what you mean, and you make sense — Howland didn’t just lose his ability to coach.

      I can’t blame the lack of leadership on the court on Howland — there hasn’t been one player on the squad that’s stepped up and acted as the main guy, and Jerime Anderson just doesn’t seem like that kind of guy. Inexperience is also a problem. And you cannot blame scouting issues on him either (although you’d think we’d have picked up a good guard or two since that’s what Howland loves to have).

      I just feel like his decision-making is still hindered by his stubbornness; he still wants to play a slow-down offense and man defense even though his squad is definitely not geared up to do so. His time-outs are frustrating, too. Why call timeout to control for pace when *your* team is the one that’s pushing it? And then late in games, we don’t even have timeouts to use.

      I don’t know. Four years is a stretch to have not won the Pac-12 considering our talent level and how poorly the conference is doing.

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  • JustinHsueh

    I know, I know he’s doing pretty horribly this season. But I just don’t see anybody better than him. Gotta name decent replacements before calling for his head.

    I’m pretty sure the only reason Neuheisel was fired was because of fan reaction, if there is too much noise we might get Dan Guerrero to make another basketball hire. THEN we’d be screwed big time.

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