Lacking sufficient students willing and able to pay for costly basketball tickets to fill the new Pauley Pavilion, why should UCLA cough up millions any top-market basketball coach would feel himself to be worth? Bill Plaschke writes admiringly of the fired coach’s recruiting success in attracting seven NBA first-round draft picks, but doesn’t mention how many of those NBA future superstars actually graduated. How much did it cost UCLA to serve as an uncompensated NBA training camp?
My vision of UCLA basketball is somewhat different from Plaschke’s: Ticket prices reduced precisely because the coach is not being paid the stellar wage commensurate with a rock star status, and students cheering for actual student-athletes who might go into fields other than pro. Would that really be such a bad change?
Jay Bilas said something very prescient in commenting on the UCLA basketball search: “If you have someone who knows what they’re doing, I don’t know if they need to form committees like that.” Ding! Ding! Ding! Exactly. The simple fact is that UCLA does not have someone who knows what he is doing and therein lies UCLA’s problem over the past 16 years of Dan Guerrero’s tenure.
Success at the highest level in the two major sports, football and basketball, requires not onlya top-flight coach, but also a top-flight athletic director. Can you imagine an A.D. telling Moses Brown that he has to fly coach on Southwest? John Wooden would not have achieved what he did without the stewardship of J.D. Morgan. Going forward, UCLA will not achieve the pinnacle of either sport with Dan Guerrero running a “think small” athletic department.
William David Stone
UCLA’s consistent underachievement in the two major sports starts at the very top. Dan Guerrero has shown no ability to attract the very best coaches to Westwood. Likewise, he doesn’t seem to be a “talent spotter” in identifying the next big thing in coaching. Perhaps Chancellor Bock needs to replace Guerrero before he makes yet another poor appointment.
My pal Dan, who has followed the Bruins since their campus was on Vermont Avenue (current LACC site), insists the problem with the present team isn’t players or coaching. It’s scheduling, stupid. “You don’t wanna line up powerhouses like Belmont and Liberty. Early on, you go for the patsies. Trump U., for example.”
Bill Plaschke, just what was the purpose of your hatchet job description of the UCLA basketball program in your column on New Year’s Day? Did you try to make it sound like the USC program to scare off prospective coaches? Why would a local sportswriter be inclined to do such a thing? And after spending the first half of your column suggesting that no highly respected coach should consider the job, you switch to saying that Dan Guerrero must get a highly respected coach. Do you even understand the insanity of your words?
A week ago I watched UCLA play basketball, fall behind by double digits by halftime, then come back to win by seven. They played with passion, determination, patience, and discipline. I marveled during the second half at how well UCLA executed a well-thought-out plan that was the result of halftime adjustments by the coach and staff. I saw a head coach who was bright, inspirational and in command. Of course, I was watching the Lady Bruins and their coach, Cori Close.
Now that the men’s program is looking for someone to take over for coach Alford, perhaps UCLA look no further than its own campus.
For front page news on New Year’s Day we are offered Bill Plaschke’s lament on the failure of basketball at UCLA. He scolds the university for inept coach recruiting, penny pinching, and bad TV contracts, as if UCLA basketball was a central mission of higher education. Amid the growing commodification of university athletics, I find the concerns expressed in Plashcke’s article far too elaborate.
William K. Solberg
Professor Emeritus, UCLA
The Lakers have blown more fourth-quarter leads than any other NBA team this season. This result has little to do with the Lakers’ age or lack of talent. It has everything to do with coaching. I cannot blame Luke Walton for the pathetic free throw shooting, but I put the blame squarely on his shoulders when it comes to personnel on the court, discipline and execution.
The Lakers have no identity on offense or defense. Walton allows the players to continue to make the same mistakes without any repercussion. Bad shots. Bad turnovers. Bad fouls. Yet, game in and game out, the same players who hasten these results are on the court. When you continue to lose the same way, the buck stops at the coach. This team isn’t learning. A fluke win against the Warriors masked their issues for a game. The terrible loss against Sacramento amplifies their mediocrity.
Hey (younger) Lakers!
Losing is not an option! After two years of “growth’, “development”, “learning”, losing is over!
With the addition of the best player in the game, you are now required to: make your shots, make your free throws, play airtight defense and win!
Or, to put it in a way that you can understand, #defense24/7, #reboundsgetrings.
Morro Bay, Calif.
Lost in Paul George’s 37-point chest-thumping, rim-hanging, backboard-slapping performance was the fact that his Thunder struggled to defeat a Lakers team missing LeBron, Rondo, and Kuzma for most of the game. In interviews afterward, a real superstar would have acknowledged that a team with title aspirations would have to play way better. George instead basked in adulation. You’re a big peacock on a small farm, Paul. Good luck to you.
Sigi Schmid was a most influential promoter of American soccer development of his generation. As NCAA champion UCLA head coach, he took time to look at an exceptional player in response to my cold call. As the MLS champion Galaxy head coach Sigi brought his team to Lancaster to practice, scrimmaging against local youth teams.
Sigi shrugged off impressive statistics and focused on improving the performance of all who came in contact with him. The Galaxy just hired Guillermo Barros Schelotto, a protégé of Schmid while with the Columbus Crew. May Sigi’s spirit be with him!
Six months ago, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader, 24, apologized profusely after some racist, homophobic, and misogynistic tweets he’d posted at age 17 were unearthed. In his first game back, Milwaukee fans applauded wildly, and many even stood, when he was announced. The message: He’d been forgiven.
That didn’t suit Dylan Hernandez, who, in his July 22 column, hoped that if such a situation ever applied to a Los Angeles athlete, L.A. fans would sit on their hands. “Sports are supposed to unify people,” he wrote. “Reactions like this, whatever the intention, threaten to divide.”
Well, a few weeks ago the most prominent athlete in Los Angeles — a grown man of 34 with millions of social media followers eager to receive his wisdom — compared white NFL owners to slave masters and posted song lyrics that repeat a classic anti-Semitic trope. Yet Hernandez wrote not a word of disapproval about these comments that were anything but unifying and did indeed divide us by skin color and race.
Keep this in mind the next time he climbs on his literary high horse. Dylan’s moral outrage blows in the wind.
Same old bowls
Clemson and Alabama in the national championship game is not exactly a surprise. We could have skipped the regular season and scheduled this one in September. In fact, we could even skip this game and just crown Alabama now.
I was shocked and appalled on Christmas morning to find that there were zero football games being televised. As bad as it might have been, I am taking up a petition to bring back the dreaded Blue-Gray Football Classic in order to prevent future travesties. Who’s with me?
Bill Plaschke was spot on regarding his opinion on Urban Meyer. He also provided sound career advice. If I would have know 30 years ago that I could have gotten promoted, received new offers and banked millions of dollars all while I lied and had multiple arrests under my watch, I would have a had a completely different approach to my own career.
After blotting coffee from my morning paper, I reread the source of my spit-take: Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott saying, "a handful of season-ending games are not a key indicator of a conference's strength...."
I can think of only one world where that makes any sense — Dodgers world.
That was quick
Thanks, Kliff. Move On!
The rant is due
A few simple requests to sportswriters and broadcasters for 2019:
In football, can we finally dispense with “Third and manageable”? We fans know anything is possible. And please, stop ringing that inane bell, foghorn or train whistle on third downs. We know it’s third down.
In baseball, retire the tired phrase, “That’s a nice piece of hitting.” You’re bright people, think of something else. And to Victor Rojas, what in the world is a “big fly” other than an unfortunate image of Jeff Goldblum?
In basketball, can we please stop talking about who belongs on Mount Rushmore? What’s the point? Comparing players from different generations is an exercise in absurdity. Let’s just accept the fact that Wilt Chamberlain was, is and always will be the greatest of all time.
And finally, golf. Will somebody please tell Joe Buck to shut up?
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