Letters to Sports: March Madness continues, now without UCLA

UCLA basketball fans react in the final seconds of the Bruins' Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina.
UCLA basketball fans react in the final seconds of the Bruins’ Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

All this talk from UCLA coach Mick Cronin about defense has been a smoke screen. The team’s defense was not bad, although none of the players were individually great defenders. Some were quite poor. And having Cody Riley and Myles Johnson switch out to guard on the perimeter creates mismatches that usually burn the Bruins. It did again Friday night in a Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina.

With Caleb Love getting hot at the end, Cronin should have directed his best defensive player to stick to him. He didn’t. Love hit several key shots when he was essentially unguarded.

Still, the Bruins’ Achilles’ heel all year was the lack of any structure to the offense. It seems rather clear that Cronin cannot coach offense. The team emerged from timeouts and ran isolation plays, which rarely worked. UCLA led 64-61 with 2:08 remaining but thereafter was outscored 12-2. Not being able to score over the final two minutes cost the Bruins the game, Love’s long-distance marksmanship notwithstanding.


Brian Gura
Redondo Beach


Last year a reader suggested that UCLA hang a runner-up banner in Pauley Pavilion. Should UCLA consider a Sweet 16 banner this year? Of course not! UCLA is about winning NCAA championships and has nothing to be ashamed of with its loss to North Carolina. UCLA will return once again next year.

Wayne Muramatsu

UCLA was moments away from reaching the Elite Eight for the second time in as many years before North Carolina surged late, dashing the Bruins’ dreams.


The loss to North Carolina was 100% on Cronin as UCLA was deeper than the Tar Heels but Cronin refused to play his best two defensive players in Watson and Clark. It’s really a shame because with all the upsets the Bruins had a shot a winning championship No. 12.

Fred Wallin
Westlake Village


When your offense consists entirely of four guys standing around and one guy dribbling and dribbling and then forcing up a contested shot, you don’t deserve to win. Would someone please tell Cronin that basketball is a team sport?

Mark Mead
San Diego


The teaser on the front page of the March 18 Times read “Poor shooting dooms USC.” This was literally news to me, as your box score showed that not only did the Trojans outshoot Miami by five percentage points, they also made nine of 20 three-point shots, while the Hurricanes shot an abysmal one for 14. The Trojan loss came down to two statistics. USC stole the ball but once all game long; Miami did so a dozen times. Worse, while Miami turned the ball over only three times, USC committed a whopping 18 turnovers. Put another way, the better team won.

William P. Bekkala
West Hollywood


March Madness is the spring sport highlight (not baseball, not pro basketball). The drama that surrounds the tournament is thrilling — the upsets and buzzer beaters — are off the charts. But, more important is the parity that has emerged in college basketball. Almost any team of the 68 has an opportunity to make the sweet 16. Isn’t that so, Saint Peter’s?

Mark Mallinger

A look into how Saint Peter’s shocked the sports world by becoming the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

Blue’s clues

Headline: “The Dodgers are winning the 2022 World Series.” Way to jinx it, Dave.

Steve Tye
Diamond Bar


Good omen for the Dodgers, as a horse named Kershaw won the sixth race at Oaklawn Park last Sunday.

Vaughn Hardenberg

With the changes the Dodgers have made in the offseason, manager Dave Roberts believes his team will win the World Series in 2022.


Matt Beaty was designated for assignment today. I wish him all the best. A throwback, not flashy, good hitter and fielder, the man quietly went about his business, rarely drawing attention apart from his job. I saw him question a strike three, once. He was tossed, presumably for acting out of character. Of course, it did not escalate. That isn’t his DNA. Manny Machado he is not. Thank God. And thank God for baseball players like Matt Beaty.

Jeff Wood

Lakers bore

Am I the only former Lakers fan who can’t wait for this season to end? I find it difficult to root for a team led by a pompous, self-righteous, egotist! This is not the Lakers team I grew up with. My regards to West, Baylor, Kobe, Goodrich, Magic, et al.

Patrick Kelley
Los Angeles


LeBron James says, “I’m literally having the time of my life right now.” Unfortunately, us Laker fans really can’t express the same feelings.

Brian Haueter

Russell Westbrook and Dwight Howard each scored 24 points, but it wasn’t enough in the Lakers’ 126-121 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.


I’ve tried and tried, but there simply isn’t any upside to HBO’s “Winning Time.” The producers have taken a mostly fun time for Lakers fans and turned it into a mostly untrue attack on Jerry West and others. Shame on HBO for running this lowest of the low attempt at satire.

Fred Wallin
Westlake Village

Quick picks

Once again, The Times’ sportswriters have anointed the Trojans to be the best football team in California, will finish the year with maybe one loss, a cinch for the Rose Bowl and Lincoln Riley will be coach of the year. Just for the heck of it, it might be interesting to wait for three games to be played next season before the accolades roll in.

Ralph S. Brax


New USC football coach Lincoln Riley has purchased a 13,032 square foot mansion in Palos Verdes Estates for $17,150,000. Does anybody think that it might be time to reexamine our priorities?

Noel Park
Rancho Palos Verdes

USC coach Lincoln Riley opened up about the death of former assistant coach Dave Nichol, who gave Riley his start in college football at Texas Tech.

Twice as bad

Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes are spokesmen for State Farm, so can’t they file a claim for damage resulting from the theft of their leading wide receivers?

Steve Ross

It appears the NFL has momentum from team owners and coaches to approve a rule change for both teams to have possession of the ball in overtime.

Picture not perfect

I can’t believe that your paper would put a picture of a former USC player on the front page of the sports section when Taylor Fritz, from the the L.A. area, just won the Paribas Open, beating Rafael Nadal. Many people subscribe to your paper just for the sports section and would appreciate unbiased and fair reporting.

Karon Larmore
Santa Monica

Can’t look away

Watching the Deshaun Watson debacle reminds me of witnessing a terrible auto accident. The scene is horrific, but I just can’t seem to look away.

Ron Yukelson
San Luis Obispo

New Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson maintained his innocence and denied committing any sexual misconduct despite allegations made by 22 women.

Hockey beef

I’ve been a subscriber to the L.A. Times for over 50 years, mainly because of its award-winning sports section. As I sit here today watching the L.A. Kings play I realize that many things have changed over the years.

Bluntly speaking, The Times’ coverage of the NHL, specifically the Kings and Ducks, is lousy. The game coverage is usually through the wire services. I have to Google the hometown papers of their opponents to get a decent account of their games.

And to think you are wasting the talents of one of the best hockey writers in the nation in Helene Elliott. You’ve had a great history of sports coverage over the years. You can do better than this.

Patrick Kennedy
Frazier Park


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