Solid contributions by all involved with the Bruin Basketball Round Table. Great insights, interesting Pac 12 stretch drive guesses, as well as the painfully and predictable biased views towards Coach Alford. Over all it was an enjoyable post.
From my humble perspective this would be the grades I hand out.
C+ = UCLA Team: Too many lows an not enough consistency for a higher grade going into the stretch drive of Pac 12 play. A nice finish in those final eight games and a solid Pac 12 Tournament run could raise the Bruins team grade considerably. Late game collapses, especially at Michigan, uninspired play at times, and a short bench has been the Achilles heel for this team. Suspect late game player and coaching decisions, or lack thereof, has been painful and hard to watch at times. The bright spot has been the leadership of Aaron and Thomas as well as the promise and progress of the young Freshman who need at least one more year in Westwood.
A = A. Holliday: Big shot after big shot while playing tenacious defense and huge minutes. Thee go-to guy down the stretch of most games. Embraces the pressure, fearless going to the rim while making acrobatic shots with the game on the line. The team MVP! But his late over dribbling and turn overs cost the Michigan game and at times has played a little out of control. But where would we be without him.
A- = T. Welsh: Great teammate, unselfish, hardworking, tough, and a role model for younger players. Great on the defensive boards and much improved from the outside including his three point shooting. His offensive game in the low post specifically with his back to the basket is wanting and he was a bit inconsistent at times 12-16 feet out in comparison to last season. Was a bit underused on offense.
C+ = P. Ali: Has shined at times with his athletic bursts of energy and acrobatic shots around the basket. His defense is consistently bad and borders on lazy despite the afore mentioned athletic ability. Plays a bit selfish on offense. Body language dictates that he wants a bigger role than he currently has or is simply unhappy.
C+ = G.G.: Which GG will show up from game to game or even from half to half for that matter? Spurts of successful offensive aggressiveness followed by long stretches of passiveness is frustrating. Has played with great energy on defense as well as on the defensive boards. Willing passer - almost to a fault at times, mid range shot lacks confidence. A bit underused at the offensive end specifically at his obvious strength which is face up ISO’s at the left pinch post, or at free throw line middle, power sweeping right and drive to the rim against slower bigs or less athletic defenders. Coaching!
B = K. Wilkes: Great scoring stretches, balanced inside outside game, runs the wing on fast breaks well, creates to the basket off the short (3-4) dribble nicely while getting in trouble when he extends said dribble (5-7 dribbles). Defense has gotten better but needs to work on foot work and strength. Nice rebounder but needs to be consistently more aggressive at both ends, tends to disengage at times.
B - = J. Hands: Amazing athletic ability, great range from beyond the three point line but needs to find consistency. Improved defense and rebounding as the year had moved forward, learning to share the ball more after being a bit selfish early in the season, dribble and decision making seemed to have stabilized. Has started to find a different and slower gear versus always going 100 mph.
C = C. Smith: Confidence has improved greatly, looks more fluid on he court especially on offense. Staying in his lane ie. Active defense, rebounding, high percentage shots at or near the rim, and safe solid passing. Has responded to minutes nicely. Needs to put his signature on games more.
C = Coach Alford: Has done a fair job to this point with his regular season grade set to go up or down based on the type of finish he leads the team too during the last eight games. And of course the showing in the Pac 12 Tourney will also greatly effect his final grade. I’ll hold off on the NCAA Tournament for now as that grade has a life of its own. But to this point he gets a C! He has dealt with the horrendous set back of losing two second tier contributing players to the China incident forcing a much less talented bench rotation which has been more detrimental than most realize. He beat Kentucky, again, and was 3 1/2 minutes from beating Michigan on the road before he let it slip away. The three game losing streak to sub par teams might be his and his teams ultimate demise but the next eight games could change that. I would argue that his job with this young team has been better than the job he did last year when he had Ball, Bryce, Leaf, Hamilton, with Ike, GG, and Holliday off the bench; shoot, all things considered, this year might be his best regular season job if he can just finish strong.
The Finish = The team goes 5-3, finishes 20-10 (Pac 12 Tourney aside) and ends up a 10-11 seed in the NCAA Tourney. They probably survive their first game but not there second although from a talent perspective it wouldn’t surprise me if Alford finds a way, despite the short bench, to get back to the Sweet 16.