The UCLA Bruins did not just lose in their first game of the NCAA tournament, they lost convincingly, 83-63, to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Ben Howland’s team was short handed without starting point guard Jordan Adams, but that does not excuse the poor showing. The Gophers are no slouches, but they had problems scoring all season. On Friday evening against the Bruins, that was not the case.
Dallasnews.com has reported that Howland and the Bruins needed to make it at least to the Sweet 16 to secure his job. That is amazing when you consider the fact that the Bruins were a solid 25-10 team this season. It is even harder to fathom when one considers it was just five seasons ago that the Bruins had made their third consecutive Final Four under Howland.
Fans will point to the fact that the Bruins had missed the NCAA tournament two out of the last three seasons. Howland supporters could point out the defending National Champion Kentucky Wildcats and esteemed coach John Calipari missed the tournament this year. College basketball has parity like never before.
Before athletic director Dan Guerrero decides to make any moves he has to ask himself, “Who is better than Howland?” Can UCLA pry away Shaka Smart from VCU? Can they steal Brad Stevens from Butler? Would the Bruins willing to take a flyer on a young guy like Robert Morris head coach Andrew Toole?
If the noise in Westwood is loud now, imagine if the program goes backwards. The Bruins may want to think long and hard about this one.