UCLA Basketball: Season on the Brink?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.

"She's my Rushmore, Max." I'm sure UCLA Basketball is Rushmore for a lot of us on BN. I was at UCLA during the Farmer/Hazard era. Having been a fan since age 10, it was very hard to swallow. I suppose the excellence of college basketball at the time-as opposed to whatever it is now, kept me going. Still, the coaches were horrible, and the talent was bad to mediocre-with a couple of exceptions, like Reggie Miller. I remember covering Ralph Jackson in pick-up games at the Wooden Center. I was bemused that this is what we actually put out on the floor.

Well, you know where this is going. Why I am I so pissed off now after 2/3 of a season? Jordan was taken out of the game in the last 3 minutes while Bryce was in--I was apoplectic. Then he comes back in for NORMAN. Meanwhile, Bryce is in there the whole time. And before that, LaVine was sitting.

Lets get the elephant in the room out of the way. My only comment in the game thread was: WTF is BA doing in there? Something is really wrong with this. Since Salford cut Bail loose after a few small chances, I do have to conclude its nepostism. There is finesse around this argument. The coach believes there are only two 1's on the team, and he wants one of them to play 4 part-time. But he is blind about his son.

Let me do a quick post-mortem on the game. The conventional reason for the loss is Jordan going 0-9 and Zach going 1-7. I'll get back to these two, but I will be a little contrarian and pin this one on the bigs. The obvious stat is the rebound deficit, 32-39. Beyond that, there is the eye test. There are all the little things I can't stand from a big; holding the ball low or putting it on the floor so that if can be knocked loose, getting blocked from behind, missing a dunk, bobbling a pass underneath. And of course there is the basic combination of boxing out, knowing where the ball is at all times, and then going after it--which we don't do. All this happened in crunch time, the last ten minutes of the second half.

Who did have a good game? Really no one. Kyle did go 18 points and 9 rebounds, and I marveled at his outside touch in the first half, but he messed up in winning time.

I was surprised by Oregon State. They are not particularly talented, but they ARE actually relatively athletic. That's our Achilles heel, especially if its a big like Moreland. Plus Cooke ate up Jordan on both ends.

The inconsistency is baffling. We're in February now. its really too late to get it together. My other criticism? Stop playing zone. The conventional wisdom before was that it was for his son, and for Zach. But now its all the time.

Player by Play quick analysis:

Jordan: At this point, I'm not sure you can say its that the new focus on him without Shabazz, and he's drawing the most athletic perimeter defender. That's definitely true, but I think he's not recovered. When did he get back on the floor, August? He's not going anywhere. What a joke to think he's going into the draft. I hope he has a great summer of workouts.

Kyle: He made the big jump, and exceeded my expectations. Slow-mo'ing it up the floor with 5.6 seconds left in the game, however, wasn't ideal this time, and we do seem to do well with him as a 4. Nevertheless, he is the best player, and this is his team.

Norman: Also a big leap from last year. Like I said in a comment, its blasphemy, but I can see him surpassing Jordan. Norman has a tough road. 6'3" and no long range jumper keeps him out of the NBA. Being a senior next year, I don't think he has many options. He's going to continue to be in a dog fight for minutes. I don't think with Bryce, however. Two separate positions. He's fighting with Jordan (who also gets some minutes at 3) and Isaac (who gets a lot of minutes at 1)

Bryce: When I first saw video back in April, I said here he had lead feet-he was earth bound. At the open practice, my opinion of him improved, but never did I think between 19 and 25 mpg.

The Bigs: If you will recall, I had a poll early on where I asked what you thought the starting lineup would be on November 8. I had Tony in there, like the majority of the voters. I knew I was way off since the open practice. My heart sank. That was the first inkling I had that we weren't that good. Sure, I thought Kyle and Jordan would carry us anyway, but that turned out to be mistake #2. Let' face it. We thought this was a better team (coaching notwithstanding), but it isn't. Two Wears starting, and Jordan underperforming? Not a recipe for a PAC-12 champion. 2nd place will be a dogfight.

Further, Bail is MIA. I'm not so sure he will be back next year. He and Norman will be in the biggest fights for PT next year.

Zach: We all know he's slumping offensively while improving his defense. We know all see his draft stock declining. What happened? He wasn't a surprise anymore, and possibly he bought into his own hype.

You know what, as bad as that game was, I think he goes. I have no inside source, and I'm not going by the rumor on the paid site. If Zach had the mentality of a Jabari Parker or even a Jordan Adams, he'd be the best player in the country. His release is so quick, you can't defend his 3 point shooting. The defender has to be in his grill. And if the defender is in his grill, he is so cat-like, he takes you to the hole, and then he can elevate over anyone. The problem right now is that he seems to be afraid of contact, and finesses his way to the rim, and inevitably doesn't actually finish. He just doesn't have the slasher mentality, or the basic basketball IQ. How many times has he fouled in the last few seconds now, taking us out of the game, like Sunday-this is twice now that he fouls before the ball is even inbounded and it turns the game into a two possession one. Does he learn in the pros or is he better off here next year? I haven't read anything from a real, live NBA exec yet, just the talking heads. If the lottery is based on pure potential, then so be it-he goes.

As an aside, if Zach goes, then I think Daniel Hamilton comes. He's mainly a 3, and he, Bolden and Jordan (mainly 2) split time at 3. You never know, but I think DHam and Bolden are ready to play.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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