There was no presser today, so we'll turn our attention to the Alabama game this Sunday (3:30PM PT on ESPNU).
First, here's the news:
- UCLA is still waiting until April for the next batch of recruiting commitments (if any). Top targets remain Jaylen Brown, Stephen Zimmerman, Carlton Bragg and Brandon Ingram. Guess who we are competing against for their services next year? That's right -- the team that just humiliated us on national TV, Kentucky (not to mention Kansas and Arizona amongst others). By their relatively low-key mentions of UCLA, these two articles about Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram published after Saturday's game weren't particularly encouraging.
- In the PAC-12, California's Jabari Bird is questionable for the start of conference play due to a stress fracture. Cal had its seven game win streak broken by Wisconsin at Cal on Monday. In other PAC-12 action, Washington beat Tulane 66-57 Tuesday night to open the season 11-0. The game was closer than the score indicated as the lead changed hands repeatedly throughout. My take on Washington: their secret weapon is shot-blocker Robert Upshaw. I don't see them as particularly talented, but like several other PAC-12 teams, they make up for it with good defense and solid team play on offense. The exact opposite of the Bruins.
And now on to Alabama. Here are the comparative stats:
After last week you might wonder why I bother highlighting the "Four Factors." Analysts swear by them as the best indicator of the game winner. There is actually a formula, statistically tweaked, to tell you who wins. Here's the issue, particularly last week: they are offensive statistics. You can actually graph the defensive version of the Four Factors, but hoops analysts believe that the offensive factors are most important. Therein lies the misread for the Kentucky game. Although they looked like Showtime Lakers last Saturday, Kentucky is really a defense-first team.
Nevertheless, Alabama come out on top in three of the four factors compared to UCLA. The exception is offensive rebounding rate thanks solely to a certain Mr. Looney. Alabama's RPI is #64 compared to UCLA's #103 (services have different RPI simulations).
Last year, an Alabama team that ultimately went 13-19 took UCLA down to the final minute. They were the first team to press the Bruins full-court with Kyle Anderson handling the ball. Tony Parker had a break-out came, and helped the Bruins win by eight. Here's the box score from that game courtesy of ESPN.
Of the five Alabama starters from last season, one graduated (center Engstrom), and two were supplanted by transfers and now are on the bench (guards Obasohan and forward Hale) plus they brought in four freshman, three of whom are in the regular rotation.
Here are this season's stats:
The starters are (F) Kessen (transfer from Longwood -F), Taylor (F), Tarrant (transfer from Tulane - G), Cooper and Randolph (G). So 8-3 Alabama lost one starter but added two transfer starters and three rotation freshmen. They go nine deep this year. They got better, UCLA got worse.
It's true that Alabama, like UCLA, doesn't have a signature win. They beat eight cupcakes and lost to Iowa State, Xavier and Wichita State. Before you say Wichita State was a good loss, although Wichita State was much-heralded, they haven't beaten a good team either this year -- unless Alabama turns out to be that good win (53-52).
|Date||Opponent / Event||Location||Time / Result|
|11/10/2014||vs. Montevallo (Exhibition)||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|11/14/2014||vs. Towson||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||W, 82-54|
|11/17/2014||vs. Western Carolina||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||W, 80-74|
|11/20/2014||vs. Southern Miss||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||W, 81-67|
|11/24/2014||vs. Iowa State||Kansas City, Mo.||L, 84-74|
|11/25/2014||vs. Arizona State||Kansas City, Mo.||W, 76-71|
|12/2/2014||vs. USF||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||W, 82-71|
|12/6/2014||at Xavier||Cincinnati, Ohio||L, 97-84|
|12/13/2014||vs. Tennessee Tech||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||W, 65-53|
|12/16/2014||at Wichita State||Wichita, Kan.||L, 53-52|
|12/19/2014||vs. Stillman||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||W, 69-49|
|12/21/2014||vs. Appalachian State||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||W, 60-59|
You can be sure a deep Alabama squad will be pressing a shaky Bruin backcourt at home in Tuscaloosa. This doesn't appear to be a recipe for a Bruin win, but as DCBruins said, this is a must-win game for the UCLA.
Can the Bruins turn it around on Sunday? I'll look at the match-ups on Saturday.