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UCLA Basketball: Week 6 Hoops Q&A – Post-Beatdown by Kentucky Edition

The losses to Gonzaga and Kentucky were expected, but 24-0 and 41-7? What is the state of Bruin Hoops?

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

1) Do you believe Steve Alford is deliberately running an AAU-style offense? Explain.

chrissorr: It looked like it last year. I've been saying they have an identity crisis this year: transition, post-up/high-low with bigs or perimeter shooting? If it's meant to be AAU-style this year, they are failing at it. It's probably part style to attract recruits (Kentucky obviously doesn't need to do it), part nepotism and just plain old roster mismanagement. Mostly the latter: mistake after mistake being unprepared for Adam's departure through the failure to enroll Octeus. In between there were misses with McLaughlin, Perkins, Winslow, D. Hamilton and Bolden (for this year).

Saturday specifically, nothing mattered after the first four minutes. I didn't see them come out attempting to run with Kentucky, and really I didn't think the problem was ball movement or may of the other problems cited. On the one side Kentucky has 2 or 3 times the talent, closed off passing lanes and blocked or diverted shots. On the other side, the Bruins are unprepared and too nervous to execute any workable strategy regardless of their talent level.

DCBruins: No.  In the press conferences he says the right things about passing. In the first half of the last couple cupcakes you could see Bryce try to initiate things and not just look to shoot.  I don't think Steve is happy with just 35 assists in the four losses.  That being said, I don't think he has told people to limit their shots.   For example, I don't think Looney should be shooting threes but I think everyone has the go to shoot from wherever they want whenever they want.  This is not good but I guess may be good for recruiting.

It is possible to do both.  For example, have a rule that no one shoots any shot except for a layup or specific shot for each player (for example a set three from certain spots on the floor for Isaac would be okay) until three passes.  In this way you could maybe attract recruits as the Looneys of the world will still get to shoot any shot they want but not as a first option.

2) Is the PAC 12 better than was expected or is UCLA looking worse than preseason predictions?

DCBruins:  Both.   Arizona, California, Washington, and Utah all have done something UCLA has not this season: beat a top 25 team.   UCLA is seemingly on a downward trend (including the bad halves against the last two cupcakes) going into the season and is in serious trouble to meet most preseason predictions of second through fourth finish in the PAC 12.

However, the better PAC 12 is actually good news from UCLA as it may be its best chance for a quality win given the non-conference season failures.  UCLA is going to need some quality wins in the PAC 12 to make the NCAA tournament.

chrissorr: Washington is the biggest surprise after beating common opponent Oklahoma (we lost by 10) along with San Diego State and UTEP. They beat Long Beach State by 10 (we beat by 14). Cal is also doing well because Tyrone Wallace is better than expected. Utah is better than expected because no one focused on Jakob Poeltl before the season.

An argument could be made that Colorado and even Arizona looks worse than expected.

UCLA looks worse right now. As far as predictions go, we did have the "out" of the implosion around this time. I know I might be totally wrong here, but I'm still not ready to say Colorado, Stanford, Cal and Washington finish above us.  Honestly, I'm not sure what I'm waiting for. I guess for one, a winnable Alabama game will indicate if they already gave up.

3) Did Kevon Looney's draft stock suffer on Saturday?

chrissorr: Part of me says that if Zach and Jordan can go in the first round, nothing really matters. Anyway, it certainly didn't go up if four bigs on one team in one game looked better than you. Of course it's a team game so I do sympathize with Kevon. There's time to make it up - unless the whole team falls apart now.

DCBruins: Maybe a bit.  However, he still has what scouts love in length and athletic ability.  Scouts love potential which Looney has shown.  I think Looney is a lock to be a lottery pick, where is still to be determined.

4)  Is there a reason to worry about the play of Norman Powell?

DCBruins:  Norman is 4-24 in the last two games.  While the whole team is struggling against better teams Norman has a couple nightmare games lately.  Norman needs to be the best defender even more than a leading scorer for this team.  Isaac has looked awful recently on defense and Bryce is not a defender.  If the team is going to do well Norman has to play smarter on offense and play harder on defense.  The latter is more difficult when the guys around you aren't always putting in the effort.

chrissorr: Perhaps there was too much pressure -- he wasn't up to being the number one option. I also allow for issues with Bryce and Isaac affecting him. What Steve Alford was saying about helping on defense but not recovering is mostly about the guard dynamic. I do see Norman chasing open guys that someone else should have.

I agree that perhaps it's time to put him on the opposing best player and not worry about his offense or even foul trouble. In the season preview I thought he would be on the best player.

5) Distancing from the humiliating beat down the Bruins just received, how do you feel about Kentucky amassing so much talent on one team?

chrissorr: I've actually been complimentary to Calipari over the past two seasons. I would probably hate him if he put glorified AAU ball out there, and tried to out-talent every other team. His teams play great defense, rebound and are extremely athletic. He gets a group of all-stars from all over the East Coast and Midwest to buy into a system in five months. There are risks - he lost in the first round of the NIT two years ago. He's playing by the rules (now) - I think.

That said, Kentucky is another piece of the declining college basketball puzzle. Since the NBA probably isn't going to do anything (Calipari just proved two-and-done makes him better, but letting high school players into the d-league might be worth trying along with NCAA rule changes). Part of me wants some schools to pay players outright, and let the other schools opt out of the system to play by Ivy League rules.

DCBruins: I don't know if he is playing by the rules or not.   I have no problem with the talent they have on the team.  It is what it is for college basketball today.  That said, I am not a fan.  I like the pure basketball of a say Gonzaga better.  However, it is impressive to see guys that are that talented playing that well on defense.  Our coach can't get his son to play defense.