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UCLA Basketball Roundup: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Weekly notes on UCLA basketball program.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Going to do this out of order.


Why am I really upset about the article below ranking college basketball coaches?

48. Steve Alford, UCLA
Record: 385-206
Record at UCLA: First season
NCAA Tournament: 5-7
Is Alford a better coach than predecessor Ben Howland? Maybe not, but UCLA hopes he's a better coach for UCLA than Howland was at the end of his tenure. Alford led New Mexico to its best seasons since the late ‘90s, winning the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles in each of his last two seasons. Just as relevant to UCLA, Alford did so with a recruiting pipeline to Southern California. Here's the catch: Alford's teams have been seeded third in the NCAA Tournament three times in his last four trips only to lose before the second weekend. -

Nothing in the paragraph (recruiting pipeline?!?)  or even the number 48 is that upsetting,  just stupid.  It is something not in the paragraph and not even directly mentioned in the article that is upsetting.  A clueless writer has ranked UCLA's men basketball coach sixth best in the PAC 12.

Let that sink in.  The perception of the UCLA coach is that he is the sixth best in UCLA's conference.  Even Lavin until the end would have been ranked higher and even won coach of the year honors.  So Lavin was perceived better.  Has UCLA ever had a coach so low ranked?  Actually our current coach ranks third on the list of UCLA coaches beat by Larry Brown and Steven Lavin.

Yes, I understand what some rose colored glasses wearing UCLA fans believe and part of me agrees: it does not matter now before the current coach has even coached a game.  But you must understand, I live on the east coast where idiot to average fans and writers think of UCLA, just for the name, as one of the top programs of the west.  That some paid writer picks our coach sixth in the conference is a major problem.


A more serious look at UCLA is by Jon Rothstein

You can't discuss UCLA's prospects for the upcoming season without asking how the Bruins will replace Larry Drew. The speedy floor general was flawless last year for UCLA (7.3 APG) and single-handedly augmented the game of Travis Wear. Steve Alford has several different options at point guard, but he'll be hard pressed to find someone who will be as productive as Drew was a year ago

This is a good point on both levels.  Larry Drew set the UCLA record for assists last year.  It was Larry who hit a number of game winning shots.  But less obvious is the Travis point.  Travis is a very good mid-range shooter.  He is a tough cover but he can't create own shot.  Larry was a big help to him as well.  This is yet another potential problem of not having a traditional point guard.


Rothstein also has a number of tweets about UCLA on his twitter page on September 20 that bring a glimmer of hope and are thoughtful.  Four to highlight.

Early prediction on UCLA starting five - Kyle Anderson, Norman Powell, Jordan Adams, Travis Wear, Tony Parker

@UCLACoachAlford on Zach LaVine + Bryce Alford "They're both just the epitome of a guard. They can play either back court spot."

Zach LaVine will be UCLA's first perimeter sub. Should provide a jolt. Incredible athlete. Just needs to get under control a bit.

Three questions for UCLA 1. PG play 2. Can Kyle Anderson defend 3's? 3. Will Tony Parker be consistent?

The blind UCLA fan part of me hopes that Alford is just the dumbest PR guy ever and this is not the way he is as a coach.  Some of these tweets give me hope.  The starting five with Zach off the bench first is the kind of team I would hope for with this roster.  The quote of Bryce and Zach both being combo guards is much better than other statements about Bryce and Kyle being the only points.  This kind of quote is less likely to scare away point guard recruits and should have been stated a while ago.

Lastly the three questions are good ones.  On can Kyle defend the three the answer is tough because the three is often really a two in today's college basketball.  It will be tough for Kyle to defend a quick small guard.  I guess my question is will UCLA play much zone to help Kyle and maybe Tony?

Which brings me back to where we started.  Rothstein has figured the team out and realizes there are questions to be answered but talent to win.  Alford better not be ranked sixth in PAC 12 coaches at the end of the season.