USA TODAY Sports
For 32 minutes, UCLA put on a great display of basketball in Boulder to beat Colorado, 78-75
Aside from Shabazz Muhammad's continued road shooting woes, there wasn't a lot to complain about for the majority of this contest. Travis Wear limited the selfish stupid outside shots that had been his specialty until recently and showed a deft touch inside on offense that could really increase the upside of this squad. We can live with his still poor rebounding if he starts to play like an actual center. Tony Parker played well in his token first half minutes until an ill advised elbow earned him a flagrant foul. Kyle Anderson was active throughout the game and notched a double double.
But the focus of this game has to be on the super freshman Jordan Adams. Not only was he the go-to guy during the UCLA run that built the Bruin lead to its high water mark at 61-48, but his overall attacking (Barn Cat) mentality is what this team so desperately needs at the end of games to counter our "House Cat" problems with finishing these contests strong.
How many games this season would we be able to describe with "Bruins build up double digit lead, abandon defense and slow the game down and let the opposing team back into it late in the game". Well that's once again what happened in the final 8 minutes in Boulder, where the Buffs closed it to a one possession game at the end. I don't see a solution to the defensive problem as long as Howland is married to his double Wear lineup. What we can solve is the conservative "play not to lose" mindset that has permeated virtually every Howland team back to the Final Four days when we've built up a big lead. Back then we had defense, rebounding, and mental toughness to rely on. As these are no longer in supply at UCLA, there's no point in going into a shell late in games when you have an attacking player like Adams who has aggressiveness in his DNA. On one possession, he unleashed a little bit of it with a drive and dish to Travis Wear for a layup. It is beyond frustrating to watch this kind of collapse game after game, especially when it's coaching strategy that's holding our players back and keeping them from being all that they can be.
That's not to let the last 8 minutes take over what was basically the best win for the Bruins all season. Yes, the Pac-12 sucks, but Colorado is one of the skinnier kids in fat camp and we beat them in their gym. If Howland would just let his players play late in these games, this can be a NCAA second weekend caliber team. With Adams, Parker, and probably Anderson in tow, the cupboard will also not be bare for the next coach. That's a solid core to build around.