We will have a number of posts on basketball in the coming weeks that look forward but this one will look back a bit for what it may mean for the future. I wanted to look back at what were the key trends in last years "big" win" and disastrous losses. For this purpose I picked what I considered the five best wins and the five worst losses. This is my list and I chose to ignore Dan Guerrrero comment that the ugly Texas game was a "big win" and did not list the face-plant Minnesota tournament game without Jordan Adams.
After picking the games, I went through and tried to find trends throughout the 10 games that told the story of the ultimate failure and success.
First a list of the 10 games I picked and why. For ease all quotes are from the ESPN story on the game.
5 Worst Losses of 2012-13
One of the worst losses in UCLA history. "It was the highest-ranked team ever defeated by Cal Poly, picked to finish seventh in the Big West."
Arguably the biggest stain on Howland's record were his struggles with USC. ""It's always worse when you lose to your rival and lose at home," coach Ben Howland said.
This one still does not make sense. A poorly-coached banged-up team with nothing to play for beats UCLA. "Washington State was battling the loss of two key players and a two-decade history of losing at home to No. 23 UCLA."
Howland out coached and UCLA destroyed, so much for the momentum of the big Arizona win. "The Bruins, who were the best-shooting team in the conference going into the game, shot just 35 percent from the field against the Devils."
If there was a mercy rule, this game would have been called at halftime. "The first half of basketball, we couldn't do anything right," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "And they did everything right."
The 5 "Big" Wins
Winning at a #6 ranked Arizona is a major accomplishment. No one should take that away from this team because of the other crap. "Coming off a disappointing loss to Oregon, UCLA (16-4, 6-1 Pac-12) tried to turn Arizona's whiteout into a blowout, racing to a 16-point lead in the game's first seven minutes."
The bittersweet win. After being swept by UCLA, Arizona Miller came up with a strategy to take away Drew and Shabazz, opps. "Freshman Jordan Adams carried UCLA into the Pac-12 championship game. Now the Bruins will have to carry on without him."
Rumors were Howland was fired instantly if we did not win or do well in this game. Guess who came through? "Travis Wear, who finished with a career-high 22 points, added a jumper with 12 seconds remaining to close out the Bruins' first win over a top-10 nonconference opponent since 2007."
On senior night the two departing Bruins showed their stuff. ""It's senior night and I told Larry before the game we'd get the win," Muhammad said. "I had to make sure and make those free throws for him."
First big road win. "Travis Wear scored 14 of his career-high 23 points in the second half and Jordan Adams' two free throws with 7 seconds left sealed UCLA's ninth straight victory, 78-75 over Colorado on Saturday."
Five Trends in Big Losses.
1. Kyle Anderson in the five losses shot terribly 9-35 for 26%. Kyle only shot 41% for the season but this was still much worse.
2. With the exception of the ASU loss Shabazz shot bad 23-78 or 29% including 5-24 from 3.
3. The team was out rebounded by over 10 a game which would have been an even bigger margin except the Cal Poly game was even.
4. As team UCLA only shot over 40% in only one of those losses, to Cal Poly which again is an outlier.
5. What may come as a surprise is the Travis Wear factor. Travis Wear did not play in two of the losses, was limited in another loss to 15 minutes, and was in his first game back from an injury in the fourth loss. Only in the Cal Poly game was a healthy Travis Wear involved in a "big" loss.
Five Trends in the "Big Wins."
1. Travis Wear shot 32-55 (although he was hurt in the biggest win) and twice set his career high in the big wins.
2. The biggest key in the big wins was the bench. The bench shot 56% , averaged over 16 points a game, and scored in double digits as a group in each big win game. By comparison in the five losses the bench averaged 9 points a game and shot 35%. (The "loss" numbers could be worse if not for Jordan Adams coming off the bench in the Cal Poly game.)
3. The bench also rebounded better in the big wins for a total of 52 for an average of over 10 a big win game versus 23 for an average of under 5 in the disastrous losses.
4. David Wear statistically was a factor in the big wins (although not in the big losses). He shot 21-36 for 58% well above his season average of 45%.
5. UCLA opponents in the big wins had 33 more turnovers for a 6.5 per game turnover advantage for the Bruins. While UCLA was generally good at this there were only +15 in the 5 big losses or 3 a game close to the season average 2.85.
What's this all mean? My quick thoughts are that a healthy Travis Wear is a good college player that UCLA needs. However, even more important is that UCLA needs a bench. Also the obvious, Kyle needs to learn to shoot.
Add your thoughts below.