Almost 70 percent of Bruins Nation readers think next year's UCLA basketball team should be ranked somewhere in the top-10. They are not the only ones. Fox Sports has Bruins in their pre-season top-10, checking in at number 6:
6. UCLA: The Bruins lost seniors Ryan Hollins and Cedric Bozeman -- both starters off a team that advanced to the championship game -- but Ben Howland's squad took a far more significant hit when point guard Jordan Farmar opted to leave for the NBA. However, sophomore Darren Collison will get a chance to prove he is capable of sliding into Farmar's spot. The Bruins will also return 6-foot-5 junior shooting guard Arron Afflalo, who tested the NBA waters, sophomore do-it-all forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (9.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and also wing Josh Shipp, who returns to the fold after playing just four games a year ago. Sophomores Alfred Aboya, Mike Roll and Ryan Wright will continue to improve and the Bruins will welcome in solid freshman power forward James Keefe.HT to Hornblower for pointing to that story.
Also, CSTV.com's Bryan Armen Graham thinks Bruins should be the prohibitive favorite to win the Pac-10 duking it out with Romar's Canines from Great Northwest:
UCLA opens its Pac-10 title defense with a weekend two-step against the Washington schools at Pauley Pavilion with this premier conference matchup on the back end of a Thursday-Saturday set. Lorenzo Romar may have lost conference Player of the Year Brandon Roy to graduation, but the fifth-year coach of the Huskies welcomes to Seattle the most heralded recruiting class in program history. McDonald's All-American Spencer Hawes headlines the group, but Phil Nelson, Adrian Oliver and Quincy Poindexter aren't exactly slouches. Jordan Farmar's early departure for the NBA draft probably cost the Bruins a spot in the preseason Top 10, but this Aaron Afflalo-led group should be the prohibitive conference favorites in its fourth year under Ben Howland. Look for this game to set the tone for what promises to be a fight to the finish in the conference.We will see how it all shakes out. DC should be capable of stepping up in replacing Jordan, but man we are going to miss Farmar in certain game situations when we are going to look for someone to hit those money shots. Perhaps AA, Luc, Josh are working hard this summer to improve all facets of their game so that they come back with improved jumpers. Whatever it is, I trust Ben Howland. And it is apparent the rest of the Bruins Nation and the world of college basketball believes in his ability, showering the Bruins with pre-season accolades. This again, of course, is in dramatic contrast with the football program, which is somewhat of a laughing stock (unranked in every single pre-season national poll, in some cases not even in the top-5 of the Pac-10) of college football.
Once again, a good coach makes all the difference in the world of big time college sports. We have a great one in hoops, a mediocre, less than average one in football. Hopefully some day soon we will have a Howland like figure making the same impact in football.