Another Mental Note

Many UCLA fans want to completely forget this season, but many others are keeping a few mental notes -- just as a reminder of how much of a debacle this season has been. The Oregon game Saturday qualifies as one of those mental notes. But UCLA fans going down with the ship have a reason to think positively...

This was a team that isn't so good having a not-so-good game.


And that team still beat UCLA by 31 on Saturday.


If Oregon had played a decent game, this could have even been quite a bit uglier.  How many shots did they miss in the first half? When they were up by about 17, they easily could have been up by 30.  Their shot selection was extremely poor, they go one-on-one far too often on offense and play no defense.  That all sounds familiar if you're a UCLA fan, but Oregon was better than UCLA by 31 points.  


If you take away maybe a few permanent impressions from this season with you for your permanent memory, just to have a mental reminder of how bad the Steve Lavin show was, this game would be one of them.  Lavin smiling, making jokes, the Oregon fans chanting to keep him as UCLA plays one of the worst games in its history. It was the worst loss to Oregon ever.


We will no longer use the term "Hazzard-esque." It's been easily replaced with the more powerful "Lavin-esque."


But that's about all this game was good for. A mental note. Again, one more thing that helps put Lavin in his place in history.   


If you're trying to find a silver lining in this game you're mining for some nuggets that just aren't there.  You know it's pretty bad when CBS needs to name a player of the game for UCLA and designates Ray Young, who had 10 points, 2 rebounds, and some of the worst decisions of the season.  Young had put together a string of three games where he played well at point guard. So what happened here? It began when Dijon Thompson rolled his ankle in the first half and came out for a few minutes. That made Lavin go to his bench and insert Ryan Walcott at point guard.  With Walcott at the point, that moved Young back to the shooting guard position, and with that moniker, Young did just that. He shot three for twelve and went back to his old game plan of forcing shots and drives. 


But anyway, again, there's no reason to think about this game beyond just a simple mental note.


Truly, I don't think a UCLA fan should take anything else significant from this game, nothing that means anything about the near future for the young players on this team. Many fans will question the players' heart, but they're discounting the effect that a mismanaged program and a bad coach that has given up will have on 20-year-olds. 


Perhaps the most significant development Saturday was that Washington lost to Washington State.  That loss perhaps makes it more probable that UCLA will make the Pac-10 tournament.  


With that loss and UCLA's loss to Oregon, it renders the Washington State game on Thursday insignificant in terms of the last seed in the Pac-10 tournament. That last seed could very well all come down to who wins the UCLA/Washington game, the last game of the season, on Saturday.


A friend of mine who is a UCLA fan called me a week or so ago and complained to me about the article I wrote after the Cal game.  The article, if you might remember,  discussed all the mixed feelings many UCLA fans were having about the season – that they want to see the team win, but also want the season over with.  This friend took me to task for even suggesting that a UCLA fan would not want the season to continue as long as it possibly could. He told me that it went against every fiber of his being. 


He called me yesterday after the Oregon game. I guess this season has become such a force that it's powerful enough to go against every fiber of his being.  He said that, watching the Oregon game, he experienced many of the mixed feelings I had described in that Cal story.  He said his love of UCLA will always want the season to be extended – just a near-instinctual impulse.  But anticipating another potential 30-point blowout to #1 seed Arizona might make an even bigger mental note for the season that he doesn't want to carry.


Being the always-positive person that I am, I gave him something to root for:  I told him he should be rooting for UCLA to continue to win, and for it to not only get in the Pac-10 tournament, but get the #7 seed. With USC losing to Oregon State Satu

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