Reeves Nelson hits a dramatic Three-Pointer to ruin Steve Lavin’s return to Pauley Pavilion, as Nelson’s 17 Rebounds and Joshua Smith’s 19 Points foul up foul-happy St. Johns in 66-59 triumph

Quick and talented but extremely undisciplined and inconsistent team plays unstructured ball, relying on one player’s 1-on-1 skills, blows a 9-point lead, commits way too many stupid fouls, and makes one late run, comes close to winning, but loses in depressing fashion?  Welcome back to Pauley, Steve Lavin!

What a weekend!  First, a convincing victory over usc that left the trojans demoralized and on the outside of the NCAA Tourney looking in, and now an almost-as-satisfying, 66-59 W over former Bruin Head Coach Steve Lavin and his St. John’s Red Storm, to complete the weekend sweep.

As usual with early-morning games, the Bruins came out sluggish.  St. John’s rode Dwight Hardy to an early 13-4 lead before UCLA got the gunk out of their eyes.  Hardy was practically the Red Storm’s entire Offense, scoring 9 of their first 11, and ending with a game-high 32.  But one player was not enough. 

When UCLA fell down by 9, Ben Howland inserted Joshua Smith into the line-up, and he changed everything.  Before he came in, UCLA could not get the ball inside.  As soon as he came in, he got free for dunk after dunk after dunk after dunk.  He got his 4th slam at around the 12-minute mark, but due to a slew of sloppy Bruin Turnovers, the Bruins still trailed 13-19.  Then the Bruins settled down.  Tyler Lamb came in and hit two straight Three’s (!!), the second one giving the Bruins their first lead of the game, 22-21, at around the 4-minute mark.  Lamb picked a good game to make a couple of big shots, because Lazeric Jones had a very OFF-game.  Playing with a SPRAINED WRIST might explain Jones’ 0-6 shooting, as well as his SIX Turnovers.

Jerime Anderson picked up some of the ball-handling slack, dishing out 5 dimes, and Malcolm Lee picked up the Offense, with 15 Points, all of it INSIDE and at the Line.  But Smith was the difference, scoring 10 of his 19 Points in the First Half, as the Bruins took a 29-26 lead into Intermission — A good omen, since the Bruins were 12-1 in games that they were leading at Halftime.

With Nelson (17 Boards) dominating the Glass, and with good team Defense, and with tough-as-nails Offense, the Bruins extended the lead to 10 about halfway through the Second Half.  Lee, Smith, and Nelson were able to get inside, and power up to the hoop, often getting fouled.  The Bruins went to the line a stunning FORTY-ONE times, compared to just 7 trips for the Red Storm.  Home Court Advantage?  HARDLY.  More like poorly-coached St. John’s players, out-of-control, and unable to contain their emotions.  And as it got late in the game, the desperate Red Storm got even more thuggish, pummelling the Bruins on every possession. 

After leading by 10 with about 5 minutes to go, the Red Storm’s tenacious and overly-physical Defense forced the Bruins to commit a few Turnovers, allowing St. John’s to get back into the game.  It was a 3-point margin with 2 minutes to go, when UCLA missed a series of Free Throws, including four in a row by the usually deadeye-shooting Lee.  Then Tyler Honeycutt and Smith got back-to-back shot blocks on Defense, which set up the crucial possession of the day:  The Bruins used up most of the shot clock, then Smith had his shot attempt blocked.  They had to inbound the ball with just 3 seconds left on the shot clock, and because the better shooters were well-covered, the ball had to go to Nelson. .. And Nelson shocked the raucous crowd with a fallaway, buzzer-beating “prayer,” that went right through the hoop (giving him his 10th double-double of the season).  That gave the Bruins a 6-point lead with 34 seconds left;  St. John’s missed their next shot, Smith got the board, and that was that.  Once again, Steve had to leave, feeling peeved.

And please don’t give me any sh-t about what a good job Lavin did as Head Coach of UCLA, or about how postive Lavin has been to UCLA while on ESPN.  Both of those sentiments are totally FALSE.  He was a horrible Coach at UCLA, dragging a once-proud program into the ground.  He wasted lots of player talent, with buddy-buddy techniques, and very little teaching.  Fundamentals went out the window, team play was rare, and humiliating losses were not.  Then when he got a job at ESPN, he did NOT promote UCLA as the legendary school that it is.  Instead, he BLAMED fans’ expectations for his demise, claiming that he was following Wooden’s legacy.  Bull.  It had been many, many years since Wooden had retired, and there were many poor Coaches in between.  No one expected Wooden-like results.  They just didn’t like losing the Conference every year, and getting embarrassed repeatedly by weaker programs. 

What most people are too dense to perceive is that Lavin’s “compliments” to UCLA were just thinly-veiled excuses for his failure.  And when he would talk about Howland’s teams, he would always try to justify his own struggles.  There is no comparison between a tough Disciplinarian/Teacher like Howland, and a loosey-goosey Observer like Lavin.  Howland trains players in the fundamentals, drills them in Defensive principles, and makes them better people.  All Lavin does is roll the ball out on the court, and let the chips fall where they may.  And judging by the thuggery on Saturday, he still isn’t building character.  Like Baron Davis once said, the Bruins did pretty well back then, considering that they didn’t have a Coach.

So don’t fall for the Ponzi schemer’s smooth talk — All his making nice was really just a covert attempt to get back in good graces with Bruin fans, while really just making excuses and trying to make himself look less pathetic.  It has obviously fooled a lot of people, including the announcers of today’s broadcast (Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony), but it never fooled me, and it shouldn’t fool you.


3 responses to “REEVES’ HEAVE BEATS STEVE”

  1. UCLADal Avatar

    Laughin is so full of crap. I hope his teams never win another game.

  2. dswenson Avatar

    Reeves Nelson played with a lot of heart today. He usually does. GO BRUINS!

  3. SVCATOSCMO Avatar

    You’re beating a dead horse. The fact is that Howland has been the coach now for over 7 years, and any current success or failure is solely his responsibility, not Lavin’s. Sure, there is some lingering pain over possible national championships missed on his watch, but Lavin’s gone, and so is the man who hired him. I would have understood (as opposed to agreed with) Lavin being hired as an interim coach, given the abrupt dismissal of Harrick, but unfortunately Dalis was apparently fooled by the team’s initial success under Lavin, and kept him permanently, not keeping a close eye on his coaching abilities.

    Was Lavin a good coach? Not even close, given the painful level of underachieving that occurred on his watch. Did he do much for the program as an analyst? Not really, other that act as somewhat of a counter-balance to the chair-thrower and other UCLA-hating ESPN broadcasters. I don’t know if St. John’s should be any better than they have been this year. They have had an up-and-down season, so I don’t know if Lavin has improved as a coach. On the one hand, I doubt it, but on the other, could he have gotten any worse?

    I wouldn’t sweat unenlightened people who look solely at Lavin’s record and judge him to be a good coach. Most people know the truth. His only true accomplishments at UCLA were his early recruiting successes, the basis of his underachieving teams.

    To me, Lavin is the equivalent of Dorrell – coaches in way over their head who caused the deterioration of their program. In Dorrell’s defense, the football program was cleaned up ethically. I don’t hate either of them, but I am glad that they’re gone.