Letters to Sports: Basketball gods give UCLA the heave-ho from March Madness
Do not let the capricious nature of the basketball gods detract from the heroic effort on display by the Mick Cronin-led Bruins vs. Gonzaga in the NCAA’s Sweet 16 game. It was one for the ages. Resilience against adversity was on display with every possession.
This noble performance deserves to be placed alongside the finest in the legendary pantheon of Bruins basketball … Julian Strawther’s 32-foot dagger notwithstanding.
As usual, Bill Plaschke resorts to hyperbole in his commentary on the UCLA’s performance against Gonzaga, writing: “A gleaming effort became a smoking wreckage filled with bricks, bad defense and regrets.” While Mark Few made some positive half-time adjustments, Mick Cronin’s superb game plan fell victim to the fatigue that was so evident in the Bruin players in the second half, leading to a barrage of shots falling short and loose balls going the Zags’ way.
UCLA’s true character was illustrated in grabbing a last-minute lead after being down by 10 points only two minutes earlier. Of course, for the third time, a long-range dagger decided a UCLA-Gonzaga contest.
Bill Plaschke had one thing right about UCLA-Gonzaga, and that was that UCLA shot early and errantly in the second half. Plaschke gave a nod to the effect of injury on the team. No excuses, but the rotation was thinner and the main players were gassed, which is why shots were short and loose balls were going the other way. We surely will miss this cast of seniors and thanks for a great season and good fortunes to them all in their futures!
Scott W. Hamre
I was raised to be a Bruins fan. I remember when nobody could handle the UCLA full-court press. Now teams know how to prepare for it. Even so with 12.2 seconds left I’m yelling, “full court press,” make Gonzaga use up precious seconds. But no! Instead they were allowed to bring the ball up as fast as possible to set up a play coach Few said they practice all the time.
Coach Cronin is the best thing that happened to the Bruins since coach Wooden. Please, coach, explain your 12-second strategy to us. I was hoping at the least for a wild desperate shot.
Congratulations to the Bruins on a great exciting year.
Once again this NCAA classic basketball rivalry came down to the final seconds of an absolutely thrilling game. The UCLA players should not hang their heads as they had a great season, a Bruins team that played with grit, determination and heart, faced some adversity along the way, and yet persevered without two of their starters in the lineup of what turned out to be the final game of the season for UCLA. But, please, coach Cronin, if these two opponents should ever face off in a future tournament game and it comes down to a final shot by the opposition, make sure you triple team any player that has the initials “JS.”