Letters to Sports: Basketball gods give UCLA the heave-ho from March Madness

Las Vegas, NV, Thursday, March 23, 2023 - UCLA Bruins guard Amari Bailey (5) walks away from the Gonzaga Bulldogs who are celebrating a 79-76 win in a Sweet 16 game at the NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
UCLA guard Amari Bailey walks across the court as Gonzaga players begin to celebrate their Sweet 16 win Thursday night. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Do not let the capricious nature of the basketball gods detract from the heroic effort on display by the Mick Cronin-led Bruins vs. Gonzaga in the NCAA's Sweet 16 game. It was one for the ages. Resilience against adversity was on display with every possession.

This noble performance deserves to be placed alongside the finest in the legendary pantheon of Bruins basketball … Julian Strawther's 32-foot dagger notwithstanding.

Dave Sanderson

La Canada


As usual, Bill Plaschke resorts to hyperbole in his commentary on UCLA's performance against Gonzaga, writing: "A gleaming effort became a smoking wreckage filled with bricks, bad defense and regrets." While Mark Few made some positive halftime adjustments, Mick Cronin's superb game plan fell victim to the fatigue that was so evident in the Bruin players in the second half, leading to a barrage of shots falling short and loose balls going the Zags' way.

UCLA's true character was illustrated in grabbing a last-minute lead after being down by 10 points only two minutes earlier. Of course, for the third time, a long-range dagger decided a UCLA-Gonzaga contest.

Noel Johnson



Bill Plaschke had one thing right about UCLA-Gonzaga, and that was that UCLA shot early and errantly in the second half. Plaschke gave a nod to the effect of injury on the team. No excuses, but the rotation was thinner and the main players were gassed, which is why shots were short and loose balls were going the other way. We surely will miss this cast of seniors and thanks for a great season and good fortunes to them all in their futures!

Scott W. Hamre

Cherry Valley


I was raised to be a Bruins fan. I remember when nobody could handle the UCLA full-court press. Now teams know how to prepare for it. Even so with 12.2 seconds left I’m yelling, “full-court press,” make Gonzaga use up precious seconds. But no! Instead they were allowed to bring the ball up as fast as possible to set up a play coach Few said they practice all the time.

Coach Cronin is the best thing that happened to the Bruins since coach Wooden. Please, coach, explain your 12-second strategy to us. I was hoping at the least for a wild desperate shot.

Congratulations to the Bruins on a great year.

Dave Simon

North Hollywood


Once again this NCAA classic basketball rivalry came down to the final seconds of an absolutely thrilling game. The UCLA players should not hang their heads as they had a great season, a Bruins team that played with grit, determination and heart, faced some adversity along the way, and yet persevered without two of their starters in the lineup of what turned out to be the final game of the season for UCLA. But, please, coach Cronin, if these two opponents should ever face off in a future tournament game and it comes down to a final shot by the opposition, make sure you triple-team any player that has the initials "JS."

Dennis Lifton


True blue

It’s easy to complain and gripe about sports teams and their upper management, which exploits its players. But let’s take a moment to give immense credit and a big thank-you to Dodgers management for their respectful and dignified handling of the tragic case of Andrew Toles and his mental illness. Once again, the Dodgers have renewed his “contract” enabling him to maintain insurance and maybe find the right medication to stabilize his horrific disease. I wish for the day we might one day see Toles back on the field in Dodger blue.

Jeff Black

Los Angeles

That winning look

One look at Shohei Ohtani’s face last week proves he has no desire to sign with the Angels as a free agent. He likes winning too much.

Doug Gould

Agoura Hills


I feel sorry for Mike Trout. The World Baseball Classic final might be as close to a world championship as he will ever get.

Paul Hunt

Sierra Madre


Realizing that the WBC was a tournament and not a season-long grind, it was nevertheless refreshing to see baseball played as it was meant to be, with all the passion and intensity the game requires, without batter walk-up music, the exhortation of a piped-in voice of "everybody clap your hands," or the in-dugout interviews that pull the viewer away from the beauty of the game itself. MLB could learn a thing or two from this tournament that was a classic in all senses of the word.

Bill Waxman

Simi Valley


It’s fantastic to see at least one of the two great Angels players (Ohtani/Trout) finally win a championship. But it is time for a correction to be made. The World Baseball Classic should logically be called the World Series as it is actually teams from around the world playing. Major League Baseball (MLB), which calls its finale the World Series, should now change it to the Major League Baseball Championship.

Steve Shaevel

Woodland Hills

Another long season ahead

After the Rams finished with a 5-12 record, their offseason moves leave one scratching their head. No big signings, but lots of releases. They traded star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and let go of backup quarterback Baker Mayfield. At the end of the day, the Rams have no strategy in place to win, unlike when Sean McVay was first named coach. Next season looks like it will be a long one, worse than the last and don't be surprised if McVay bails afterward.

Rich Fond

Sherman Oaks

Carrying the load

One of the most enduring sports memories of my childhood is of the Knicks' Willis Reed hobbling onto the court to beat my beloved Lakers in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA championship series. Fast-forward 53 years and it's likely that in the same situation, Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis would sit out the game due to "load management."

Ron Yukelson

San Luis Obispo

Making the right call

What an incredible human interest story on Malachi Moore by Sports columnist Mike DiGiovanna regarding the trials and tribulations of becoming an MLB umpire. The article is heartbreaking, uplifting and should be required reading for parents of struggling children. Excellent!

Patrick Kelley

Los Angeles

Complaint Department

Your coverage of the Kings and hockey in general is a joke. Last Saturday night's sold-out home game against the Canucks was covered by someone named "Associated Press." Awful!

Howard Weinberg

Long Beach


Wow, when the UCLA men's basketball team wins, they get the front page. The women get Page 5.

The L.A. Times, why is it so sexist?

I suppose we should be thrilled the UCLA women were even covered given the paucity of coverage of any women’s sports in this publication.

Please explain why your publication does not respect women athletes.

Michelle Sauntry

Sherman Oaks


So Dylan Hernandez now speaks for Major League Baseball in declaring that Shohei Ohtani should leave the Angels? I'm speaking for L.A. Times readers and demanding that Hernandez be reassigned to covering and commenting on the weather. In that position his "influential" ideas will have the impact they deserve — zero.

Ray McKown



During this whirlwind springtime of March Madness, with so many office pools, I have a suggestion: Let’s start a pool to see who receives the largest number of negative letters submitted to the Times Sports editor this year. Odds-on favorites are columnists Bill Plaschke and Dylan Hernández, and TV college basketball commentator Bill Walton. Letters by disgruntled Times fans venting about these three talented people present a constant source of amusement at my Sunday breakfast table. That’s what makes this Sports letters section so interesting.

Gene Meyer


The Los Angeles Times welcomes expressions of all views. Letters should be brief and become the property of The Times. They may be edited and republished in any format. Each must include a valid mailing address and telephone number. Pseudonyms will not be used.


This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.