After blowing out Washington State on Jan. 4, Kapono felt optimistic about the rest of the year. The win was the Bruins' second straight, and it appeared the woes of their 2-5 start were behind them.
"It's a good confidence builder, and hopefully it'll lead to some more
victories," Kapono told Fox Sports. "We've got to erase the bad feeling
left from the way we've started this year."
But, three weeks later, Kapono's still got that feeling.
The senior's words look silly now.
UCLA (4-11) is mired in its worst season since the last World War, and
there are many theories as to why the Bruins have fallen off the
college basketball radar.
A part of the problem has been UCLA's defense, which ranks near the
bottom in almost every Pac-10 category. Opponents are shooting 44.1
percent, while averaging 75.6 points a game.
The Bruins sorely miss center Dan Gadzuric, now with the NBA's
Milwaukee Bucks. T.J. Cummings, a natural power forward, has shifted to center
and freshmen forwards Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins have played their
age, causing a lack of an inside presence.
"The entire team has struggled to find a rhythm," UCLA coach Steve
Lavin said. "We've really had a difficult time trying to get any level of
Saturday's 80-69 loss to California was UCLA's sixth straight, the
first time that's happened since the 1947-48 season — the year before
legendary coach John Wooden took over. Wooden would go on to lead the Bruins
to 10 NCAA titles.
None of that has rubbed off on UCLA this year.
After opening its non-conference schedule against weaker teams, UCLA
has been held to 44-percent shooting in Pac-10 play. Opposing defenses
have caught on to UCLA's perimeter-shooting philosophy. The Bruins' lack
of an inside presence has only made things worse.
"It's been a discouraging season to this point," Lavin said. "It's the
collective play at both ends of the floor that has us searching for
But it may be Lavin who takes the fall.
On Jan. 13, the Los Angeles Times ran an article saying Lavin would
resign. He denied rumors about quitting the following day.
"Any time the coach or the team struggles to win on the floor, his job
status is going to come under scrutiny," Lavin said. "At no point did I
consider resigning. At no point will I consider resigning."
Some have rushed to Lavin's defense.
"UCLA is like a Kentucky or a North Carolina where there's going to be
a tremendous amount of expectations with those jobs," Arizona coach
Lute Olson said. "I can't imagine any tougher job, because you're expected
to win and win them all."
"I've always been a big fan of Steve Lavin," said USC coach Henry
Bibby, who graduated from UCLA in 1972. "Steve can bounce back and make
Despite the support, Lavin's seven-year run at UCLA, which includes
three consecutive Sweet 16 appearances (2000-02), will likely come to an
end. Many expect Lavin will be fired at the end of this season.
"It's a miracle if he doesn't get booed during a home game," Daily
Bruin sports editor Jon Paul Hoornstra said. "Everyone on campus, and that
likely includes Lavin himself, knows that this is his last season."
Until then, his team has 12 more games, including a meeting with Oregon
on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion.
A loss would give the Bruins their first seven-game losing streak since
the 1945-46 season.
And playing at home hasn't been a cure by any means — seven home losses
this year has set yet another dubious record.
"We're getting back to doing what we do best, which is teaching and
coaching and playing better basketball," Lavin said. "Unfortunately, we
haven't been able to do that this year."
Carey undergoes surgery
New Mexico point guard Senque Carey will remain hospitalized longer
than expected following surgery to remove a bulging disk in his back.
Carey will not be discharged Wednesday, as doctors had initially
predicted, according to an Associated Press report.
The 24-year-old suffered a spinal injury Nov. 25, which paralyzed him
from the waist down. The senior regained full motion two weeks later and
underwent physical therapy, but he reported numbness in his legs and
pain in his upper back.
The surgery aimed to remove the bulging disc because of the pain it
"He's in good condition, but he's not recovering as quickly as they
initially hoped," Stanford University Medical Center director of media
relations Ruthann Richter told the AP.
Mississippi Valley State guard Michael Archie was paralyzed from the
waist down as a result of a stray bullet fired in a nightclub.
Archie was hit in the side early Sunday in a shooting that left a man
dead and wounded two others. The 20-year-old averaged 11.2 points and
was shot just hours after an 87-68 win at home against Prairie View A&M.
"The doctors are saying he will not have the use of his legs," mother
Carol Archie told the AP.
Up and coming
Maryland. Since starting the season 4-3, the Terps have gone 8-1.
Credit coach Gary Williams for keeping No. 10 Maryland a force despite
losing three starters from last year's national championship team,
including standout Juan Dixon. Maryland is trying to make its third
straight Final Four.
He said what?
"I just wanted to get to the locker room, so I could dance a little
- Kansas coach Roy Williams to the AP after the No. 12 Jayhawks upset
No. 3 Texas on Monday.
This and that
New York Knicks guard Allan Houston established an academic scholarship
at Tennessee to honor his father and college coach Wade Houston on
Friday. … Iowa's Jared Reiner will miss three weeks after hurting his knee
in the Hawkeyes' loss Saturday to Ohio State.
UCLA faces uphill climb
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