The quartet of high school stars playing their first season in Westwood—Jordan Adams, Tony Parker, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson–have been placed into the purifying flames of the mount at Pauley Pavilion, where only the truest metals prevail against the heat.
This team has learned that, because of their coach, there is no wiggle room for losses or bad games. UCLA has gone 3-3 in its last six, is tied for first place in the conference, and it is like the flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder have settled over a city waiting to be split into three by an earthquake like mankind has never seen.
The Kansas Jayhawks just broke a three game losing streak. This included a loss at TCU, which has zero Big XII conference wins except for the one over Kansas. The Jayhawks, with serious roster holes and maybe even talent deficiencies at multiple positions, may play into a Final Four.
College basketball is that wide open; but some UCLA fans want to play the pessimist and are waiting for the season to end badly to have the satisfaction of seeing the coach fired.
The Louisville Cardinals have lost four of their last seven, including games to Villanova, a mediocre team, and Georgetown, a good team. UCLA lost by eight points to Georgetown in Brooklyn, New York in its fourth game of the season, and Shabazz Muhammad's first as a Bruin. The Cardinals were the top ranked team in America for several weeks this season and a top 10 team at the time of the loss.
The Bruins are 2-2 against the top 25 this season. They are 2-0 against the top 10. It is the fourth time in 10 years Ben Howland's teams have beaten two top 10 teams in a season.
But a whole swath of fans and alumni are still angry and think the coach has let everyone down. This is a good lesson to learn, and the best reason to learn to play for yourself and your teammates with the outside tumult turned down to a pleasant, white noise.