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UCLA Basketball -- Asuza Pacific Preview & Open Thread: Evaluating The New Faces

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Basketball is back at Pauley, and tonight we'll get our first look at the new faces: Isaac Hamilton, Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh. We've got some questions about the returning players too. How's the point guard situation? Is the bench adequate?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Opening night for Men's Basketball is finally here!  Well... alright...it's actually an exhibition game against Division II Azusa Pacific of the Pacific West Conference.Catch the live stream at PAC-12.com from Pauley at 7:30 PT.

In case you need to catch up on the Bruins, here are the season previews: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

From their APU's website:

Since 1993, no men's basketball programs in the state of California can boast higher winning percentages than Azusa Pacific, which is 595-166 (.782) over the 22-year stretch, and UCLA, which is 503-220 (.696) during that timeframe.

The APU Cougars were 17-10 last year - fifth in the conference (won by California Baptist).  Here's an interesting tidbit:  their leading scorer is Troy Leaf of El Cajon, brother of T.J., a 2016 five-star power forward and recipient of a UCLA offer.  The Cougars are brave (and paid) -- they head up to Washington State next week for another PAC-12 game.

Humongous 2015 recruiting targets Jaylen Brown and Carlton Bragg (there is rumor about an academic issue so we may not see him) will be in attendance - how will "Halloween in Pauley" rate against "Late Night" at The Phog "and "Big Blue Madness?"

This is still interesting.  We'll get quickly get some answers.  Norman Powell and Kevon Looney are skilled enough such that it will take more time to evaluate them, APU is too small to bother Tony Parker and there would be no need to play anyone past 30 minutes, but here's what I'll be looking for tonight:

  1. Is Isaac Hamilton an upper-PAC-12 level scorer? Can he also be a playmaker and defender?
  2. Can Thomas Welsh run up and down the court at an adequate pace?
  3. Does Steve Alford use a "big" rotation?
  4. Is there a good balance between running and feeding it into the post?
  5. Are Noah Allen and Wannah Bail ready to give significant minutes?
  6. Is Bryce under control? Who handles the ball most?
  7. Can Gyorgy Golomon contribute this year? Can he play the 3?

DC and I will have coverage post-game and Saturday morning.  In the meantime, enjoy the open thread.

UPDATE:  Kevon Looney is getting over a right hip injury -- says its fine but let's see if he fell out of shape.  Also said he sees himself as a small forward, and feels comfortable with the ball in his hands. I'm adding Kevon's injury, and where he plays most as items to watch.