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Bon and Gone — UCLA fails to execute, including team leaders Thomas Welsh, who goes 1-for-5 for only 2 Points, and Aaron Holiday, who commits THREE Turnovers in the final 30 seconds of a one-possession game, as the Bruins choke against the Bonnies, 65-58 and are exterminated from the NCAA Tournament

UCLA’s season is officially over.  One of their worst performances of the year devolved into a 65-78 elimination loss to underdog St. Bonaventure, in the “First Four” NCAA Tournament “Play-In” match-up of #11-seeds in Dayton, Ohio.  Despite the Bruins’ massive height advantage, their two twin towers were completely ineffective on Offense.  The team’s second-leading scorer, 7-footer Thomas Welsh, made one shot all night, scoring only 2 points on 5 shots.  He wasn’t looking for his shot, he wasn’t looking for the ball, and his teammates weren’t looking to feed him.  Welsh did pull down 15 Rebounds, but on the Offensive end he was a complete non-factor. Fellow big man Gyorgy Goloman didn’t help on that end either.  He had 4 Blocks on the Defensive side, but he too made only 1 bucket all night.

The only Bruin big man that could do any scoring was Alex Olesinski, who tallied 7, with 4 Boards in 15 minutes.  But when Alex O. is outscoring Welsh and Goloman combined, you know this is not going the way the Bruins had planned.  In the front court, Aaron Holiday started the game scoring UCLA’s first 8 Points, then missed 6 straight shots and didn’t score again for about an hour and a half.  He finally found some Offensive rhythm in the second half, when the Bruins were down by 7 but came back and took the lead — and he finished with 20 Points — but in the final 30 seconds, with the Bruins down by only 2, Holiday committed three straight Turnovers, basically handing the game to the Bonnies.

St. Bonaventure had quicker guys working harder, and the Bruins couldn’t solve the Bonnies’ Zone Defense.  They couldn’t get the ball inside, and couldn’t penetrate without having the ball tipped away.  St. Bon got ELEVEN Steals (to the Bruins’ ONE).  The only thing the Bruins did well was shut down the Bonnies’ two celebrated Senior Guards.  Unfortunately for UCLA, that left an opening for the Bonnies’ third-best player — Courtney Stockard — to have a career game.  Stockard scored 26 and carried the team for 35 minutes.

To the Bruins’ credit, they didn’t quit when they were down by 7 early in the second half, or when they were down by 7 again with four minutes left.  They came back both times, but the second time, when they cut it to two with 30 seconds left, a tired and frustrated Holiday melted down, turned it over 3 times, and fouled out.

The “fans” who hire planes trailing anti-Alford banners will be very vocal this week.  The Bruins had a talent edge, and a huge size advantage, but the St. Bonaventure Coach used his team’s speed/quickness advantage to totally negate the Bruins’ advantage.  Also, the tenacious Bonnie D was too much for UCLA to figure out, and the adjustments were an improvement, but not enough to get the Bruins to the round of 64.  UCLA committed TWENTY Turnovers (to only SIX for SBU), and TEN of them were miscues by Holiday himself.

In ordinary circumstances, I would say Steve Alford is on the hot seat.  HOWEVER, with the excuse of losing 3 players to the China Syndrome, plus, MORE IMPORTANTLY, a stellar recruiting class lined up for next year, I’d be shocked if a change is made.  Of course I was shocked last year when Jim Mora was fired, so anything is possible.  I just hope the recruiting class isn’t lost if a regime change is instigated.  No matter what, next year still looks, on paper, to be better than this year… Unless, all the Freshmen leave early and some of the recruits flip to other schools.

With UCLA eliminated before the BRACKET POOLS are due, and with u$c not even invited at all, I am relegated to rooting against Kentucky (because they are closing in on UCLA’s Record for Natties, and because Calipari is sleazy), and against Arizona (because they apparently pay for players and use performance-enhancing drugs and because their Coach is a prick), and against North Carolina (because they should be on probation for running fake classes for decades), and against Duke (because… Duke!).

Wouldn’t it be funny if Arizona State won it all, after finishing 9th in the “LOWLY” Pac-12 and raising national dissent when they got in?

"ST. BONAVENTURE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT" was published on March 13th, 2018 and is listed in Blue & Gold News.

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