Get Better, Not Bitter
Sometime late in the first half of last night's game, I turned to a friend and said, "It's amazing that UCLA is even close in this game. They have no coaching, no team defense, no offense – what are they running? They're staying close just on their talent. What could they do with a real system and coach?" Shortly after that statement, Arizona went on a 21-0 run and the Debacle in the Desert was on. Clearly, as many have suspected for some time, it's entirely my fault. I jinxed the Bruins. Steve Lavin could have had a four-leaf clover, a rabbit's foot, and Sean Farnham with a fifth year of eligibility – it still wouldn't have been enough after I opened my big mouth. The important thing, though, is that Steve Lavin still has his sense of humor. According to the announcers, Lavin was laughing with one of the referees when the deficit was around thirty. Of course, as Lavin has often noted, he's here to teach the players "life lessons." It's all part of the Fifty Year Plan. I'm sure Bruin fans take heart in the fact that the players are learning not to take this stuff too seriously. Theater of the Absurd indeed. Man, I'm starting to sound bitter. I need to get better, not bitter. Just yesterday I was writing optimistically about the Bruins possibly staying close in Tucson. One insignificant thirty-six point thrashing at Arizona shouldn't set me off this much. There must be something else that has made me this bitter. Let's see...what else happened yesterday? Went to a matinee of new Kate Hudson movie with my wife (movie bad, Kate cute). Had a nice talk with my daughter. Talked with a couple coaches about high school players. Read latest Andy Katz column on Lavin. Had some good Chinese takeout during the game (fortune said I should expect good news in March – no idea what that could be). Oh yeah, the Andy Katz column. Lavin said he's not bitter and he's leaving on good terms. Why can't I be more like Lav? None of this stuff bothers him. As one basketball writer said to me recently, "Lavin is the most stress-free, healthy, tanned coach in the country. He's going through this horrific season and he looks better than any other coach in the country. Every game, Ben Howland looks like he's going to have a heart attack. Most coaches have circles under their eyes; they're pale and frazzled looking. Not Lavin – he looks great." Of course, most coaches haven't figured out that the key is plenty of egg white omelettes, working out and eating healthy sandwiches while watching football games. Working long hours, doing extra film work, breaking down opponent's tendencies, game preparation….who needs it? After all, what are they going to do, fire him? I think I'm bitter because I'm part of this "pathology of UCLA basketball" that Lavin mentions. I wasn't sure what Lavin meant by this, so I went to the dictionary. Pathology: the anatomic or functional manifestations of a disease. So, UCLA basketball is a disease? Well, the play on the court has certainly been sickly. Of course, the poor play on the court has nothing to do with the coaching, or lack thereof. It's your fault, Bruin fans. Or did you miss the quote in Katz's column? Lavin, on the UCLA job: "But since (John) Wooden left, a year doesn't go by where the headlines aren't about the coaches' job. It dominates the talk radio and it becomes a distraction. The head coach spends so much time managing it and that's why other programs have an edge." Darn bitter fans. You are the reason that other programs have an edge. Don't you realize what a huge edge Jay John and Phil Graham have at Oregon St. and Washington St.? Those coaches don't have to spend every minute of the day managing the problem of unreasonable fans. If you would just quit complaining on the radio, on the internet, and in letters to the editor, then Lavin could focus on the job at hand and we'd be the Yankees of college basketball again. If you would just quit your complaining for a couple minutes, Lavin could start doing some real coaching. If you'd just put away your whine and cheese, Coach Lavin would have Walcott, Crispin and Johnson morphing into Adams, Stoudamire and Igoudala in no time. Hopefully, we can all learn from this experience. We need to get better, not bitter. The bad fans need to stop being demanding and unreasonable. Most importantly, I need to keep my mouth shut and not jinx any carefully thought-out good luck charms that Coach Lavin might be employing.
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