UCLANoob asked the question “Is This Potentially the Worst Basketball Season in UCLA History?” Last night, the 2018-19 Bruins made their case for it. First, the thing that has prevented this team from being awful has been defense. But let’s have Murry Bartow describe last night’s 104-80 loss to Stanford:
I’m surprised giving up 104 points because defensively, we’ve been pretty decent. We just didn’t have an answer. They killed us in transition, they killed us in the paint, they made a lot of threes.
I have personally been pissed at the penny-pinching Southern California News Group for never sending the excellent reporter Thuc Nhi Ngyuen to road games. Maybe I am looking at it wrong. Maybe they don’t send her because they like her. How ugly was last night? She tweeted:
UCLA loses 104-80 to Stanford. Fourth time since beginning of last year that the Bruins have given up 100 points in a game. Before that, the last time an opponent scored 100 on UCLA was in 2004.— Thuc Nhi Nguyen (@thucnhi21) February 17, 2019
UCLA actually started out well, but then it was the bad Bruin offense of this year and the horrid UCLA defense on the Alford years. Ben Bolch of the LA Times reports:
But two old themes reemerged: UCLA had trouble running a fluid offense and couldn’t defend the three-point line. Stanford capitalized to go on a 26-5 run to wipe out the Bruins’ early advantage while building its own double-digit cushion. The Cardinal were up 49-40 at halftime largely on the strength of making seven three-pointers.
For those who say that this is happening because freshman point guard Tyger Campbell got hurt, please. One player who is playing well is UCLA point guard Jaylen Hands. An article from the Associated Press notes:
UCLA’s Hands has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 11 games. The sophomore, the Pac-12 leader in assists, reached 20-plus points for the second time in three games after not doing so in his first 23.
The Daily Bruin’s Sam Connon writes it was all Hands and Jules Bernard on offense:
UCLA’s primary backcourt in the second half – sophomore guard Jaylen Hands and freshman guard Jules Bernard – combined for 48 points, seven rebounds and five steals on 14-of-21 shooting from the field, 4-of-8 from deep and 16-of-18 from the charity stripe.
Hands led all scorers with a career-high 29 points after he scored 27 in the Bruins’ loss to Utah on Feb. 9, while Bernard registered a career-high 19 points and 27 minutes off the bench.
The rest of the offense was horrid. Connon details:
On the ensuing possession, sophomore guard Kris Wilkes airballed a corner 3. Eight and a half minutes later, redshirt freshman Cody Riley airballed a free throw, but the referees didn’t even bother blowing the whistle.
And with 4:51 left, redshirt junior guard Prince Ali airballed a wide-open transition 3 that would have made it a 9-point game again.
The second half start was delayed for almost 40 minutes as they fixed the baskets by replacing them with temporary ones. It did not make a difference for UCLA’s offense or defense. Bolch explains:
The Bruins eventually emerged to play the second half, though it was as if they were still shooting on the old basket about 100 feet in the air.
UCLA missed six of its first seven shots and couldn’t get nearly enough stops on the way to a 104-80 loss that continued a disturbing trend in Pac-12 Conference play.
The defense, at least, was consistent—consistently terrible. The last word today goes to Bolch:
The Bruins’ biggest problem was allowing the Cardinal to make too many shots no matter which rim they were attacking; Stanford shot 51.4% in the first half and 54.3% in the second.
This team needs to play defense or it is really bad, but it is not the worst. A couple years ago, the UCLA Bruins had Bryce “never play defense” at point, Tony “big wide slow fella” at four and lost to a Washington State team that went 1-17. This year, we beat that same level terrible team, UC Berkeley, twice, once in overtime. The moral of the story is that this team is bad but not the worst. That said, for the talent this team has, it is the most underachieving. Maybe that does make it the worst season?