Years ago Bobby Knight was asked if he had any advice for Steve Alford as UCLA Coach. He said get a notebook and listen, “D-E-F . . .” to spellout defense. I think Bill Walton might say to UCLA Bruins Interim Coach Murry Bartow to write in his notebook “A-S-S-I-S-T.” UCLA does not pass. Tonight, in a 104-80 loss at Stanford they did neither.
In fairness, sometimes Jaylen Hands plays like a point, but, otherwise, UCLA is made up of guys who only pass when they get trapped. When Moses Brown, Kris Wilkes, Prince Ali, and Jules Bernard get the ball, you know they are going to shoot. Now, they are all talented and it can work at times. But, it usually doesn’t. Worse, it inspires others to the same. Jaylen Hands realized if he passed the ball he would never get it back so he too became a ball stopper in the second half.
Jaylen Hands led the Bruins with a nice start. He had three baskets and an assist. Then, Moses Brown made two free throws for what counts this year as a great start. Hands was scoring midrange and passing well.
That said, Kris Wilkes was taken out by an accidental elbow early in the game. Maybe, that explains his bad play.
Unfortunately, UCLA’s defense did not understand their opponents. Big man Josh Sharma regularly got dunks and layups. Three-point specialist Cormac Ryan was left open for threes and hit five of them. But, really, the zone came apart and Stanford went on a 18-2 run. UCLA went to man-to-man and started to come back, but, then, Stanford started to run against the Bruins. The defense was not getting back. UCLA looked flat footed or, at least, some of the players did.
In short, the bad defense, Stanford shot 51%, wasted a great half by Hands. To go with three assists and no turnovers, Hands had 17 points and scored every way possible. The Bruins had the best player in the game, but Stanford was the better team.
Some quick notes: Coach Bartow has again quickly benched Prince Ali. Ali played only six minutes in this half. Kris Wilkes was back to being selfish as he forced some bad shots.
The Pac-12 is Bad at Everything
The Pac-12 is not just the worst conference for basketball, but also the most incompetent. The second half start was delayed as one of the rims was loose. They took a long time to figure out how to tighten it. You think this would not be tough, but the start of the second half was delayed more than 35 minutes until they finally decided to replace both baskets.
The Bruins started the second half going 1 of 5 again on offense and in the bad zone. Stanford went on an early 10-0 run. Jules Bernard made a few of the “I’ll take on the entire defense by myself” and drew some fouls but the rest of the team stunk up the place. There was NO passing.
UCLA could not deal with Josh Sharma, who would wait on the edge of the paint under the basket for a driver to get in the lane. Brown (or Riley) would rotate and Stanford would pass to Sharma for an easy dunk. Sharma had seven dunks and 22 points. We never figured out how to stop it.
That said, the Bruins did figure out a defense, briefly—the press. The press gave UCLA an 8-0 run in the second half, but that was it.
UCLA kept being selfish. Sometimes, the Bruins were bailed out by foul calls but there was no passing on offense and no defense on Sharma. Stanford went on a run and the game was over. Hands had three assists in the first half and four total which equaled the second half total for the team. I am not sure how anyone but Hands got an assist.
Prince Ali: F
Why does he still start? He drives, taking on the entire defense. He has some talent. But he had zero assists in 26 minutes.
Kris Wilkes: F
He was 2 of 11 shooting. The real mystery, though, is how he got an assist.
Moses Brown: D-
He made his two free throws. Brown has not had an assist since the Washington game.
Jalen Hill: C
Hill tied for second in assists with one. He tries.
Jaylen Hands: C
Hands gets an A for the first half, but an F for the second half. He had three assists in the first half and played near perfect. In the second half, he joined the selfish crew.
David Singleton: C
Singleton did not play as much, but did have an assist and a three-pointer.
Jules Bernard: C+
Bernard was effective. He drove and scored and drew fouls. He had no assists and I’m not sure he knows how to pass once he gets inside the three-point line. I may be too hard on him, but it was ugly selfish basketball. He was just the only guy besides Hands that was effective.
Cody Riley: F
He had no assists in 21 minutes. He also had some ugly drives.
Chris Smith: D-
He did not make as many ugly turnovers. He had no assists, but four fouls in 11 minutes.
Stick a fork in this season. The Bruins don’t have an offense and, if someone figures out their zone, they don’t have a defense either.
Parents, don’t let your children watch this.