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UCLA Basketball News Roundup after Drexel Game

A nice start for Kyle Anderson as Point Guard.

Kyle Anderson looked good as point guard.
Kyle Anderson looked good as point guard.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA won its first game over Drexel in a game it only trailed once, 3-2 in the opening minutes.  However, the game was never comfortable as Drexel stayed close and could have tied in the last seconds.   Here is the semi official take:

UCLA opened with a 72-67 win against Drexel in Steve Alford's debut as head coach of the 22nd-ranked Bruins despite foul trouble and being forced to play a half-court game.

The Bruins' five-point win against the visiting Dragons in Pauley Pavilion on Friday evening was a departure from their two exhibition victories, in which they averaged 102.5 points with a high-octane transition game.

"For an opener, very pleased," Alford said. "We got to create our own enthusiasm and excitement."

. . ."That's the first time we've had to play half-court offense," David Wear said. "It's the first game, we obviously realize it's something we need to work on. That's what we're going to face more. Teams are going to stop us in transition."

The concern is not with Kyle Anderson.  Kyle looked awesome, if it weren't for some missed/bobbled dunks by Zach LaVine and drops by David Wear, Anderson would have had a triple double.

1. Kyle Anderson looks very comfortable at point guard. He had the ninth double-double of his career with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and chipped in 7 assists too. His offensive game also looked a little more polished: he hit a lot of contested layup attempts that he seemed to miss last year.

Why Zach did miss a couple of dunks, he had a very good game overall that has basketball junkies like me salivating.

LaVine's debut Friday night against the Drexel Dragons at Pauley Pavilion didn't go quite as well as Adams' 21-point surprise off the bench in last season's opener.

But it was close. LaVine knocked in three 3-pointers and 14 points in 25 minutes in Friday's 72-67 win,

Jack Wang's article is really well done for those wanting talking points and a read on the game.  Just like last year, UCLA had rebounding problems and were out-rebounded by their lesser opponent.  Kyle Anderson does his share but someone else needs to step up and dominate the boards.  While I am dubious, if Wanaah Bail could just rebound and play defense, he would not even need to be able to shoot to earn major minutes.  While this is a long term problem, as Wang notes with just Tony Parker and David Wear:

3. UCLA sorely needs bigs. . . .With just him and David Wear to man the post, UCLA allowed 32 points in the paint, as well as 10 second-chance points. (I'm sure there's some overlap between those two numbers.)

UCLA is going to be, or likely should be, a zone defense before this year is done.  As the LA Times points out:

If the Bruins are looking for a bright spot from this performance, their zone defense was effective at times, and they held together over the final two minutes, scoring when they needed to and denying Drexel the chance to tie.

Of course while some things look bright, there is a matter of serious concern.  As we have been mentioning Bryce Alford just does not look like a point guard and it is difficult to "spin" it otherwise.  As Wang points out.

5. Bryce Alford's critics have fuel. Steve Alford noted after the game that UCLA got eight assists and just two turnovers out of the point guard position. Bryce, however, was only responsible for one assist against one turnover. He also launched an ill-advised 3-pointer with 23 seconds left, clanking it as the Bruins clung to a three-point lead.

He finished 1-of-5 from the field in 20 minutes, but more egregious was his defensive performance. Drexel guard Frantz Massenat blew past Alford on four straight possessions midway through the first half, scoring 7 points in less than two minutes and finishing with a game-high 20.

The set offense can get better as the offensive personnel on this team is very good.  It is too early to judge now but how Steve Alford uses that personnel will be key to the Bruins ultimate success this season.  He did a good job of taking advantage of Kyle's skill set but as Wang points out, his play of Bryce gives fuel to the critics fire.

Go Bruins!