It seems nothing irks UCLA basketball fans -- a segment of them, anyway -- more than suggesting they should be happy.
A legitimate statement made on Twitter revealed the high expectations -- out-of-touch ones, some might say -- that reside in the Bruins’ fan base.
UCLA toyed with Alabama-Birmingham in a 92-75 victory that advanced the Bruins to the South Regional in Houston this week. But apparently Coach Steve Alford taking UCLA to the Sweet 16 two seasons in a row isn’t good enough for some, as one writer (me) predicted.
That sparked a debate that shows that some UCLA fans need to check the calendar. This is not 1969. This is what the Bruins have to pay for their success under Coach John Wooden, who won 10 titles from 1965-75. But college basketball has changed dramatically since the Lew Alcindor-Bill Walton days.
UCLA has won an NCAA record 11 national titles, but only one since 1975. Eight schools have won more in that time, and Kentucky, with eight overall, is closing in on the Bruins.
The atmosphere that Alford inherited can be divisive. All you have to do is look at the assessment of the UAB victory on the "Fire Steve Alford" Facebook site: "Now we shift focus to our next opponent and where Coach Awful faces his ultimate test: Beat Gonzaga the team that crushed us in Pauley [Pavilion], or the Resurrected Iowa Hawkeyes... Lots of bad history there. The subplots are like a big movie."
Of course, a post on that same site also said, "Beating Arizona [in the Pac-12 tournament] is our last chance to get into the NCAA tournament."
UCLA lost to Arizona and made the NCAA tournament.
So suggesting UCLA fans might give Alford some credit for two Sweet 16 appearances can start a Twitter tug-of-war. UCLA fans, including former Bruins’ guard Kris Johnson, hashed it out in replies to the idea that maybe Alford shouldn’t be vilified just yet. The topic soon grew to include former Coach Steve Lavin players Jelani McCoy and J.R. Henderson, and the team that lost to Minnesota in the 1997 Midwest Regional final.
It was a reminder that many UCLA fans still only cheer for national titles. Just ask the 1985 Bruins’ team, whose NIT championship banner is stuffed in a closet somewhere, though nobody at UCLA knows exactly where.
A stream of consciousness that ended with an all-too-common view in Westwood.
Actually, as Tony Parker and Norman Powell are well aware, UCLA hasn’t hung any banners since 1995.