UCLA could have a great season "If" ___ seems to common a refrain right now. Nestor wrote in his last article about UCLA basketball "depending on lots of IFS heading into 2012-13 season."
The many ifs are also a lot of gray areas. Here is some quick analysis on the top 6 of the "ifs" or gray areas that need to be resolved in some cases or are still not resolved despite what some think.
- Josh Smith would be a great player if he could get in shape. There is not much to add on this one. At this point it is more a "what if" for Josh than UCLA. UCLA cannot use him as an excuse and IF he plays up to his potential, it will be a pleasant surprise.
- If Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson are eligible, UCLA is instantly a final four threat. Like Josh, UCLA fans have to be careful on this one. The NCAA very explicitly warned UCLA that taking Shabazz was a risk as he was under investigation. From what I know, I personally think this was a good gamble. But it is hard to argue the NCAA is unfair regarding Shabazz. They warned UCLA before we took him. Anderson is a different matter. They started investigating him later but "if" (dam that word) what we are hearing is true, they should be able to resolve this soon.
- If the media is fair, they will stop reporting stories that UCLA is
may bedirty. CBS's story that called UCLA dirty based on a survey that included such logic as UCLA had to cheat to get Shabazz since Shabazz also had an offer from Kentucky was obscene and vastly unfair. So were the stories from many sources that stated Tony Parker was currently under investigation. It has since come out that Parker was at worst quickly cleared and not under investigation at the time of those articles. It is also important to note that all the recent stories, including the most recent from the LA Times, seem to say UCLA itself is not dirty. Finally, Howland has not had a recruiting scandal yet in his long coaching career. At this point, it seems that the media is not being fair on this issue to UCLA and Howland.
- If Reeves Nelson intentionally injured JamesKeefe as described in the [Sports Illustrated] article Dan Guerrero (who knew everything according to Howland) and Ben Howland need to be fired today. I wrote that in March of this year. However, contrary to what the San Marino Newspaper implied, the judge did not decide on any of the facts or allegations. I don't want to get into legalese too much here but what did happen was a SLAAP suit victory won by a big media corporation against a small litigant. Bottom line, Reeves was cut by the Lakers and the judge, like everyone else, wants Reeves to go away.
- If UCLA were Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky, then they would be treated differently by the NCAA. I think this one is at least partially true but that is the way the NCAA has often worked before. Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky have recently won championships in basketball. UCLA can probably be treated better by the NCAA in basketball if it does the same.
- UCLA is trying to see if non-traditional point guard models will work. Howland is seemingly gambling big here. First on Kyle Anderson as a 6'8" point guard this year, at least on offense. But also, as of now, Howland is gambling on next year with Zach Lavine (Scouting services Rivals and ESPN consider him a PG, Scout considers him a Combo Guard) and Alerick Freeman who ESPN's Dave Telep said:
"Freeman's a real interesting prospect," said ESPN's Sr. Recruiting Analyst Dave Telep. "He's one of those guys with an exceptionally strong body that could guard three positions, shoots it well enough to keep you honest and he's a sneaky point guard prospect in 2013."
But keep in mind Howland tried this year to get a traditional point guard in Dominic Artis and was trying next year to get an elite east coast point guard out of high school. Howland continues to gamble on if non-traditional point guards can be successful.
The bottom line is Howland must have a great season this year no, ifs, ands, or buts.