We're still reeling around these parts since Jonah Bolden and Jon Octeus involuntarily dropped from Coach Steve Alford's rotation for this season. The lack of positive recruiting news doesn't help. The only development? Another delayed announcement - but we'll get to that later.
Alford spoke to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein about the upcoming season. Any discussion has to start with the early losses of Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine plus the graduation of the Wear twins. Losing Bolden (ineligible for one year) and Octeus (denied admission to his graduate program of choice) were punches to the gut - especially in light of the already heavy losses.
UCLA is a program truly starting a new era.
The Bruins no longer have any major ties to Ben Howland, who recruited Anderson, Adams, and LaVine. This is Alford's show now and he did a masterful job last season in Westwood during his inaugural season, leading UCLA to 28 victories, a Pac-12 tournament title and an appearance in the Sweet 16.
But things have gotten off to a rocky start for the Bruins for a personnel standpoint this season.
Looks like Rothstein forgot Norman Powell who will be the leader of the Bruins this year. Powell, Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford will have to man the perimeter and, somehow, share the point guard duties on offense and defense.
"I think those three guards are really good," Alford said. "But we're not as experienced or as deep as we were in the back court last season. Everyone is going to have do more now. When attrition happens, it's an opportunity for people to step up. Norman (Powell) had a great junior season and a great summer. He averaged almost 12 points last year and we'll need him to add to that total this year. I think Bryce proved last year how steady he was. He was one of five freshmen last year named to the Pac-12 all-freshman team and he was one of two freshmen in the country to have 100 assists and just 50 turnovers."
"He's biting at the bit," Alford said of the 6-foot-4 guard, who redshirted last season. "He can score and he's got great ball skills."
Everyone will have to do more. No kidding. But are we trying to squeeze water from a stone? I always questioned where the offense would come from after the surprise Jordan Adams departure, but I thought the defense and rebounding would markedly improve. I see a lot of zone in our future. I hope Hamilton surprises, but Bryce will still be on the perimeter.
Two other names that might factor into things for UCLA now with the team's lack of depth?
Sophomores Noah Allen and Wanaah Bail.
"They were going to play before all of this happened," Alford said of the 6-9 Bail and the 6-6 Allen. "Wanaah was definitely going to play and Noah was too. They were going to be important pieces anyway but now they become more important. Gyorgy Goloman another freshman who's 6-10 and had a good summer will also have to play some now as well."
The loss of Bolden probably eliminates the hopes for a big lineup unless Welsh is ready now. Welsh is a McDonalds All-American, but he's not very mobile at this point, and we have no reason to believe that Tony Parker can play the 4.
It's interesting that Wanaah Bail was mentioned for the first time anywhere since the Florida Sweet Sixteen weekend. I like that Wanaah is a pass-first, defense-first, rebound-first player, but he looked so lost out there, and never made it into the rotation last year after getting some limited OOC minutes. I actually thought he might transfer, but we can sure use him now.
Of course the article ends with the usual drivel. Did you know that Alford played in front of large crowds in high school?
No changes to the recruiting board (original here, update here) this week, but Caleb Swanigan (on the secondary list because I think there is no chance in hell) told Zagsblog that he will be signing late - which appears to be a trend this year.