It's hard to imagine a more dysfunctional start for a marquee program. Not only did the Bruins lose five of their first seven games, but coach Ben Howland also kicked his best player, forward Reeves Nelson, off the team because of conduct issues (e.g., feuding with teammates and coaches). Now forwards Travis Wear and his twin brother, David, must try to dig UCLA out of a deep hole.
Home losses to Presbyterian and Marshall were bad; the brawl that followed UC's 76--53 blowout loss to then No. 8 Xavier on Dec. 10 was even worse. The fight resulted in the Bearcats' imposing six-game suspensions on Yancy Gates (who slugged Muskeeters center Kenny Frease), Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis, which will make it even harder to get back on track.