The UCLA Bruins, the same team with eleven national championships in basketball and three trips to the Final Four this decade, simply want to prove to the Pac-10 and the rest of the country that they can compete with a USC program that has banned itself from the postseason. My, how things have certainly changed here in Los Angeles:
"When a team beats you, you kind of have something to prove, especially when you have an embarrassing loss like that," said freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt, who is averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in his past four games. "We're definitely not trying to do that again.
"We want to show we can compete with USC."
Would the Bruins of four years ago say they just want to go out and compete with the little 'ol USC Trojans? (Sorry, the Trogans. We wouldn't want to pass up on an opportunity to routinely bash an 18 year-old kid for a typo). But still, the fact that a UCLA program with so much success historically basketball-wise, simply wishes to "compete with USC" is alarming. What happened to the days of those dominant UCLA teams just expecting to take the court and route their crosstown rivals? By the sound of things, it looks as if those days are long gone.
If Honeycutt's latest comments are any indication, the current group of players over there in Westwood, Ben's Brats, lack the intensity and killer instinct that was once synonymous with Bruin basketball. Instead of holding themselves accountable for their sub-500 record, the Baby Bears have taken comfort in making excuses for their poor play, especially fan favorite Nikola Dragovic:
"The whole season started off bad with the legal issues I got myself into," Dragovic said. "There was a lot to deal with, school, the next quarter. I couldn't get into the gym as much. That is all my fault. But I'm still trying to bounce back."
What Dragovic really means to say is that he's underachieved thus far due to the fact that he failed to to workout much in the preseason because he was preoccupied with committing felony battery. Now, he and the rest of the Brats are wondering how they ended up with an 11-12 overall record in a year where the Pac-10 has been the but of jokes across the nation.
While I could on and on, it really isn't necessary. Just by the sound of things coming out of Westwood these days, it's quite evident that these aren't your older brother's UCLA teams, and when the ball gets bouncing at Galen Center tomorrow night, such should become even more clear to casual college hoops fans across the country.
Fight On! Beat the Bruins!