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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

Articles tagged: UCLA Basketball

Mick Cronin sounds off on UCLA’s ludicrous COVID policies

Mick Cronin in a suit

UCLA head coach Mick Cronin sounded off on Tuesday about his school’s ludicrous COVID policies with an indirect jab.

UCLA is among three schools in the Pac-12 that have self-imposed harsh restrictions regarding fan attendance at athletic events. The Bruins, along with USC and Stanford, are currently limiting fan attendance at sporting events to limited family members.

Cronin has been the coach of UCLA’s men’s basketball team since 2019. He wants to know why the Los Angeles Rams could have 80,000 fans in attendance for their playoff game on Monday night, while UCLA is not allowing fans. Both teams play in the city and their game venues are located 13 miles apart.

Cronin made his point as artfully as possible, saying it’s demoralizing to the players not to have fans.

The truth is the school’s policy makes no sense. What justification is there for UCLA and USC to exclude fans when the very city in which they play is allowing sporting events of 80,000 fans? Obviously the city isn’t concerned about one sporting event being a “superspreader” and straining the healthcare system. So what explanation do USC and UCLA have for their self-imposed restrictions?

Of course, UCLA is the same school that thought it would be fine to cancel on a bowl game just hours before kickoff. None of their policies or reasoning makes sense.

Maybe Cronin raising the point will get the school to reconsider.

Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA coach has funny quote about his team’s bad defense

Mick Cronin

The UCLA Bruins have started out hot this season, winning each of their first three games. That streak includes a victory over then-No. 4 Villanova on November 12, but don’t expect a positive spin from head coach Mick Cronin.

UCLA has surrendered just over 71 points per game on average this year, including 79 in a victory over Long Beach State on Monday night. Following the win, Cronin shredded the defensive performance with a pretty funny line.

“This game is not gonna ease my pain of horrendous defense, but you’ve got to give those guys credit for scoring,” Cronin said, via Sports Illustrated. “If I had a pair of sneakers, I think I could score on some of our guys tonight and I turned 50 this summer.”

Asked specifically what led to a better defensive performance in the second half, Cronin again pulled no punches.

“I would say they maybe they ran out of gas. Right now, defensively, I don’t like one thing we’re doing on the ball or off the ball or talk in transition,” Cronin added.

On the plus side of things, the Bruins have averaged nearly 94 points per game over their first three. And that’s a good thing, says Cronin, because it’s the only way they’re going to win.

“We better (score). We better,” he said.

If UCLA doesn’t improve defensively, the good vibes generated from beating Villanova will only last so long.

“I mean, I know everybody’s happy we beat Villanova but the game was at home. To me, that game shouldn’t have even come down the way it came down. We’ve got a lot to learn,” Cronin said. “(The defensive play is) completely unsustainable. Completely. You cannot win on the road if you don’t defend. You’ve got no chance on the road if you can’t defend.”

The 3-0 Bruins will get a couple days off before hosting North Florida (0-4) on Wednesday night.

UCLA F Jalen Hill retires from basketball due to anxiety, depression

Jalen Hill

Former UCLA forward Jalen Hill announced on Instagram Tuesday that he is retiring from basketball.

Hill played in 15 games this season but left the team in February due to personal reasons. In an Instagram video he posted on Tuesday, Hill shared what he has been going through that led to his decision.

Hill shared that he left the basketball team because he did not feel he was a good influence at the time.

“The headspace that I was in was damaging to the team. I didn’t want to restrict them from achieving they (sic) goals,” Hill said. “The reason I left had nothing to do with the team, coaching or anything. It was me. I had a bunch of anxiety and depression problems. It started when I was arrested in China when I was 17. It was a lot for me. … so I had to take a step back.”

Hill says that when he took a step back, it changed him for the better.

“When I did that, it was a whole new life. I never felt this happy before in my life. I wake up and I’m just happy to be alive.”

Hill also says he is at peace with his decision to retire.

“I’m done with basketball, and I’m cool with saying that. I made my peace with basketball … has done a lot for me.”

Hill played in 78 career games over three seasons with UCLA. He was one of three players, along with LiAngelo Ball and Cody Riley, who were arrested during a Bruins’ trip to China in 2017. The players were suspended for the season as punishment.

Hill actually declared for the NBA Draft last year before withdrawing his name and returning to school.

You can watch his video below:

Gonzaga gets favorable charge call to send game to overtime

Drew Timme Johnny Juzang charge

Gonzaga benefited from a favorable call in the final seconds of regulation, which helped pave the way for their overtime win against UCLA in the Final Four on Saturday night.

UCLA tied the game at 81 on a pair of Jaime Jaquez free throws with 43 seconds left in regulation. UCLA got a stop after Corey Kispert missed a 3-pointer. The Bruins took the ball the other way for the final shot from Johnny Juzang. However, Juzang was called for a charge after colliding with Drew Timme and never got a chance to win the game for the Bruins.

The charge call resulted in a turnover, and Gonzaga got the ball back with 0.7 seconds left. The game then went to overtime, where Jalen Suggs won it on an amazing shot.

The Bulldogs are headed to the national championship game, where they will face Baylor on Monday night.

UCLA has been a blessing to CBS during March Madness

Mick Cronin

Gonzaga and Baylor may be facing off in the national championship game on Monday night, but it is UCLA that has been the team of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bruins got bounced 93-90 in overtime by the Bulldogs on Saturday night in their Final Four game. They lost after making a great comeback in the final minute of regulation, closing a 5-point margin to tie things. And then they lost in overtime after tying things once again, only to fall on a miracle shot by Jalen Suggs.

The great game — the game of the tourney so far — was a continuation of what UCLA has done throughout the tournament. The Bruins made a great run as an underdog, played three overtime games, and have given CBS plenty of enjoyable games.

To start, the Bruins faced Michigan State in a play-in game. They came back from down 14 points to tie Michigan State and send the game to overtime, where they won 86-80. They had the only play-in game that went to overtime.

They beat BYU fairly comfortably in the first round and handled Abilene Christian with ease in the second round. But then they went to overtime against Alabama in the Sweet 16. The other three Sweet 16 games played that day were blowouts, but UCLA and Bama played a tight one. The Bruins won it 88-78 in OT.

Then UCLA played the closest game in the Elite Eight too, beating Michigan in a nail-biter 51-49. The game was close throughout, unlike Gonzaga, which blew out USC in the other game.

Then, of course, UCLA played Gonzaga tight the entire way in the Final Four and even sent it to overtime before losing on a miracle shot. Without UCLA involved, many of the NCAA Tournament days featured blowouts. The Bruins gave sports fans what they enjoy — close games, especially ones featuring an underdog team. CBS and Turner Sports should be grateful for the Bruins.

Video: Jalen Suggs sends Gonzaga to championship game on amazing buzzer-beater

Jalen Suggs shot

Jalen Suggs delivered a March Madness moment for the ages to beat UCLA on Saturday in the Final Four.

Gonzaga was up 90-85 against UCLA with under a minute left. UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez made a 3-pointer, then the Bruins got a stop. Johnny Juzang missed a shot but got his own rebound and then put the ball back in to tie the game with 3.3 seconds left.

Just when you thought the game was headed to a second overtime, Suggs dribbled the ball down the court and pulled up for a final shot well beyond the 3-point line. He raised up and his shot went off the backboard and in for the win at the buzzer!

Unbelievable. That was a memorable moment few will forget.

Now Gonzaga advanced to the championship game against Baylor. What a shot.

Bill Walton sends incredible message to UCLA for Final Four

Bill Walton

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger UCLA fan than Bill Walton, and he came ready with a fantastic video message for the Bruins ahead of the Final Four.

Walton sent a message to Bruins players — from in front of a truly great backdrop — that functioned as a mixture of praise and encouragement, urging the team to “do your best.” He also wishes them “good luck, good everything, today and forevermore.”

If that can’t get UCLA fired up for its meeting with Gonzaga, nothing will.

Walton’s eccentricities are well-known to basketball fans everywhere. If anything, this is actually pretty tame from him. He’s definitely done his part to try and ensure that the “Conference of Champions” gets an entry into the championship game.

Photo: JAYZWELLING/Wikimedia via CC-BY 3.0

Mick Cronin has great quote after UCLA’s improbable win

Mick Cronin

UCLA did the unthinkable and knocked off Michigan 51-49 in a thriller to reach the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bruins struggled to score early in the East Region final on Tuesday. They only had four points through the first 10 minutes. But their top player Johnny Juzang started to come on late in the first half and didn’t stop. He finished with 28 points — more than half of the Bruins’ total — and helped carry the team to victory.

UCLA was a No. 11 seed and had to come through the play-in game to reach the Final Four. Conversely, Michigan was the No. 1 seed in the region and expected to make the Final Four. That led to UCLA coach Mick Cronin’s great quote after the game about his Bruins being the underdogs.

Sometimes it’s helpful to have that underdog mentality as the Bruins did. Cronin certainly bought into it.

It’s hard to believe that this UCLA team that is now in the Final Four was once down by 14 points to Michigan State in the play-in game.

Who saw this coming? Nobody, which is how Cronin likes it.

Mick Cronin explains why UCLA did not foul at end of regulation

Mick Cronin

UCLA escaped against Alabama on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament with an 88-78 win in overtime and overcame a “March Madness” shot.

UCLA was leading 65-62 with under five seconds left and Alabama had the ball. The Bruins did not foul and allowed the Crimson Tide to attempt a three-pointer. Naturally, Alex Reese made the 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game and send it to overtime.

So why didn’t UCLA foul instead of giving Alabama a chance to make the 3-pointer to tie the game? Head coach Mick Cronin explained after the game. He said that Alabama’s coach knew he wanted to foul, so they wanted to be careful about not fouling while someone was shooting. The result was allowing Alabama the shot because the Tide escaped a double team.

Cronin acknowledged his players bailed him out and thanked them for doing so.

Now UCLA will face Michigan in the finals of the East Regional with a spot in the Final Four on the line. USC and Oregon State are also representing the Pac-12 in the Elite Eight.

Video: UCLA gets benefit thanks to Alabama player’s long shorts

Alabama John Terry Jr shorts

Alabama lost a critical possession in the final minutes of regulation in their game against UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Sunday due to an odd reason.

The Crimson Tide were leading the Bruins 61-60 in their East Regional semifinal game of the NCAA Tournament with just under two minutes left. Bama had possession and they were trying to add to their lead.

John Petty Jr. had the ball and was trying to make a move, but the ball went off Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s foot and out of bounds. However, a replay showed the ball tipped Petty’s shorts before going out of bounds.

The officials broke down the instant replay and decided to give the ball to UCLA.

Even if a replay showed it barely trickled off Petty’s shorts, to me, that is not within the spirit of replay. The ball didn’t change direction. It was really changed by Jaquez. This is an overuse of replay, similar to in baseball when they call a baserunner out whose foot comes off the base for a millisecond as they pop up after a slide.

Alabama ended up needing a miracle 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 65 and send it to overtime (video here).

Maybe this will lead Nate Oats to enforce a rule among his players where they wear tighter-fitting clothing.