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"Big Problems in Westwood"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UCLA

by David Bartman

 

Another off-season is almost to a close and the problems that seem to follow UCLA Menís Basketball year in and year out are present yet again. The newest development is the release of top recruit, Evan Burns, from his National Letter of Intent. Apparently, Evan did not qualify to play basketball in 2002-2003 and UCLA does not accept partial or non-qualifiers. Evan was a top 15 nationally ranked recruit that was to come in and be a major contributor to a team that needs a scoring punch. Other than Jason Kapono this yearís team has no one who has scored consistently.

Losing recruits to eligibility is nothing new for Coach Steve Lavin. Josh Moore failed to qualify, Shae Cotton failed to qualify, and more recently top center recruit in 2001-2002, Michael Fey, failed to qualify and will join the team this year. Recently, Dan Guerrero, the new UCLA Athletic Director addressed a group of alumni and fans, and in his talk he mentioned that UCLA coaches have to start recruiting the right type of student athlete for UCLA.

In my opinion, and history seems to back me, Coach Lavin has not been recruiting the right type of student athlete at UCLA and better hope for another job saving season. As it stands right now, Evan Burns, UCLAís prized recruit is no longer coming to UCLA and Andre Patterson, and up and coming sophomore forward, looks as though he will not be eligible until January if at all. I think that these are exactly the types of incidents that Mr. Guerrero was addressing, and most likely the type that will not be tolerated for long.

A team that was expected to have a ton of young talent has just lost, what looked to be, their number two scorer in Evan Burns. The questionable inside presence will be further weakened if Andre Patterson is indeed academically ineligible until January. It seems that this is the final straw; the tradition of UCLA as a national power and elite basketball school is over. UCLA has failed to win the menís basketball conference championship in five years. UCLA has been to one final four once since 1980, winning the national championship in 1995-96. UCLA has failed to be ranked in the top 5 in all but that same fateful year since 1980. UCLAís winning percentage in the first three years of Steve Lavinís tenure is higher than the last three years. This is not the trend of a school headed back towards national prominence. Then again, neither is losing your top recruit to academic non-qualification. UCLA basketball does not look as though it will be able to accomplish either of these feats in the coming year. However, it looks more and more like a new coach might be trying to lead the Bruins back to the Promised Land next year.

by David Bartman

 

 

 

 

 
       
 

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