UCLA Basketball: The 10 Greatest Players of the Steve Lavin Era

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UCLA Basketball: The 10 Greatest Players of the Steve Lavin Era
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin is on everyone's minds again after his St. Johns squad dismissed the Bruins from Madison Square Garden, 66-63. 

Second-chance allowances by UCLA were eventually the visitor's undoing, with the Red Storm only happy to cash in. Of their 66 points, 26 (or almost 40 percent) of them were off second-chance opportunities. That UCLA only lost by three is a small consolation, but this was a game they should have had.

In the larger scale of things, however, the outcome at MSG mattered little. Had UCLA won, it wouldn’t have done much for their RPI and therefore their at-large bid status, as St. Johns isn’t great this year. A road win for a team that has struggled on the road all year would have been nice, but nothing more.

The fact that UCLA lost doesn’t change its need to win the Pac-12 Tournament to make it into the Big Dance. Also, it was a non-conference game, thus bearing no impact on their seeding. 

What the game did do was give Ben Howland critics more ammunition against him. Here was a clear battle between UCLA’s old and new philosophies, and the old prevailed. For those Bruin fans who dream of a run-and-gun, offense-first approach, there might have been a small amount of nostalgia thinking of Lavin’s highlight-reel teams. 

Hopefully, those thoughts were short lived. In his seven years as Bruin head coach, Lavin never made it past the Elite Eight. His only trip to the regional finals in 1997 was largely on the backs of Jim Harrick’s players. 1997 was also the only year he won the Pac-10. While Howland's teams have always left fans with a positive "What's next!" (most of the time), Lavin's elicited a depressing "What if?".

While Lavin never delivered banners (or even final four appearances), he did have one thing: great players. With Lavin in our thoughts this week, here’s my list of his top 10 players, plus a few honorable mentions. 

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