This week is a monstrous week for UCLA basketball. The Bruins are 14-7, 6-3 and ranked third in conference play, and trying to earn a spot into the NCAA tournament. A non-conference win over BYU helps the Bruins’ case for a bid, but beyond that they will have to continue running through the weak Pac-10 to earn a spot in the Big Dance.
The road to the tournament continues with huge games for Ben Howland — home contests against USC and St. John’s. The Bruins have lost four in a row to the Trojans — in basketball no less — and they must beat the Red Storm which is coming off a win over Duke to prove the new error of Bruins basketball is better than the old one. I may be in the minority here, but in some aspects a win over Steve Lavin would be more satisfying to me than a win over USC.
Anyhow, we’ve touched on some of the recruiting issues the program has endured since their reign of dominance in the Pac-10 came to an end. The program went from reaching three straight Final Fours to losing in the second round of the tourney and then going a horrifying 14-18 last year. Some of the best players to enter the program are starring at other schools after transferring (Chace Stanback, Drew Gordon), and that has been frustrating. At the same time, the Bruins were able to steal the Wear twins away from North Carolina and should be on the upswing next season.