Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated published an exposé about UCLA basketball under head coach Ben Howland. Pulitzer-winning reporter George Dohrmann rakes some serious muck, detailing rampant drinking, drug use, and misbehavior by the team's players. The underachieving Bruins play their last regular season game tomorrow afternoon on national TV, and, although they are likely to miss the NCAA tournament, they could derail Washington's hopes of clinching the Pac-12 title outright. It ought to be an interesting match-up, but it will be downright electrifying if you play this drinking game, which captures the spirit of UCLA as described by Dohrmann.
Now, the rules to the game:
-Every time the camera shows Howland scowling at the referees or his players, take a shot. Dohrmann writes that the coach would routinely dish out "verbal abuse" to his squad (not necessarily a terrible approach, considering the success had by the infamously foul-mothed Bobby Knight and others) to the extent that one player told the magazine, "if he saw Howland waiting for the elevator he would take the stairs."
-Each time you hear the phrase "Baby Bruins," take a sip of beer and spark a joint. The Baby Bruins were Howland's revered 2008 recruiting class, a group that included stars Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee, Drew Gordon, and J'mison Morgan. Although indisputably talented, Dohrmann opines that "some of the newcomers clearly didn't appreciate the commitment needed to succeed at the top level of the college game." He quotes teammates as saying several players (Holiday and Lee excluded) "regularly drank alcohol and smoked marijuana, sometimes before practice."
-If the announcers directly mention Sports Illustrated, George Dohrmann, or "off-the-court troubles," finish your beer and crack another.
-Every time Josh Smith leaves the game obviously winded (panting, hands on hips, doubled-over, etc.) eat a handful of M&M's. Smith, a Kentwood High School product, is the Bruins' rotund young center. Dohrmann accuses Smith of "indolence," and writes that the 305-pound sophomore, "admitted to a lack of motivation, but players say that Howland also has babied him, allowing him to miss meetings and arrive late or unprepared for workouts."
-Every time Smith fails to make it back across half court while his team transitions from offense to defense (or vice versa), finish your bag of M&M's.
-If you hear the name Reeves Nelson, chug a beer. Nelson is portrayed as the über-villain in the SI story, a party animal off the court and a bloodthirsty maniac on it. Nelson allegedly tried to intentionally injure his teammates in practice, and one of his victims included Bellevue native Alex Schrempf, son of Sonics legend Detlef Schrempf, who was knocked to the ground by Nelson and sidelined for weeks with a back injury. Nelson also peed on guard Tyler Honeycutt's clothes in retaliation for Honeycutt telling coaches about a party bus excursion some players had planned for New Year's Eve. Nelson, a former first-team Pac-10 selection, was kicked off the team earlier this season.
-If/when the announcers discuss UCLA's recent swoon, take a shot. After making three Final Fours in four years, the Bruins went 14-18 two seasons ago (the first time they had a losing record since 1948) and have yet to recover. They were ranked in the preseason top 25, but can finish no better than fifth place in the weak Pac-12, and need to win the conference tournament in order to make the big dance. In light of the SI story, Howland is shouldering the blame for the decline.
-If you hear the names Tyler Trapani and/or John Wooden, drink a bottle of water. Trapani is the grandson of the legendary UCLA coach, who was known for his strict discipline and integrity. Dohrmann paints Howland as sort of the anti-Wooden, asserting that the Wizard of Westwood would never have let his boys get away with boozing and cavorting. (If the water bottle is not the right size and/or not chilled to the proper temperature, berate the person who brought it -- this is reportedly another Howland idiosyncrasy.)
-If the Huskies win the game and take home their second regular season conference title in four years, take a hit of ecstasy and have a wild Saturday afternoon, 'cause that is unprecedented. The Huskies have won only three Pac-10 championships previously, and only swept UCLA and USC in Los Angeles three times. The tie-in is that on New Year's Eve 2008, three Baby Bruins attended a giant rave at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. "We did what you do at a rave: We took Ecstasy," one of the players reportedly said.