As the putrid smell of UCLA’s throttling at the hands of cross-town rival USC fades away, the Bruins seem to finally be getting frustrated and embarrassed with the state of the season.
In early season losses, the tone was, “Well, we’re young, and we’ll improve.”
Then it became, “We need to work on the fundamentals.”
Now it has become, “I am embarrassed.”
“I’m embarrassed for our team,” head coach Ben Howland said after the Bruins’ 67-46 loss to USC on Saturday. “I feel embarrassed for our program, for the former players and coaches. That’s all you can say about this effort today. It was embarrassing. That’s what I told the players after the game.
“And I’m responsible. Number one.”
Embarrassed for the team’s offensive effort, which included just 15-of-45 field goals and 3-of-20 3-pointers.
Embarrassed for the team’s defensive effort, which consistently resulted in easy penetrations to the basket and wide-open shots.
Embarrassed for the team’s effort, which included lackadaisical shot attempts and poor attitudes.
“I’m in charge of the program,” Howland said. “The buck stops here. It starts here. We were not well-enough prepared for this game. Nor did we understand how they were going to come out and jump us with defense.”
UCLA freshman forward Reeves Nelson said after the game that he did not think Howland deserved so much responsibility for the disappointing season, that the player’s bore some of the responsibility as well, “Maybe 60-40.”
Nelson was particularly frustrated by the apparent lack of effort as the game progressed, as a manageable deficit at halftime quickly became a blow-out.
“People who don’t play with heart and don’t play with balls don’t register with me,” Nelson said. “I’m not going to bad-mouth my teammates, obviously, but today was a gut-check and we got checked pretty hard, and that showed.”