I was at the Alabama game and let me just say not since Lavin has UCLA looked this poorly coached on offense. There was effort and desire just no coaching. I even saw some decent effort on defense but as the guy sitting next to me as a fan who had not seen UCLA said:
- "They seem to stand around a lot."
- "Looney is an athlete but looks lost out there."
- "Your backup point wants Looney to bring the ball up the floor?" (In the minute Bryce was out, Isaac to not even try to break a press but passed it right back to the inbounder Kevon.)
There will be a lot of people blaming Bryce. That is not the problem. There are others saying the team has issues or players are giving up, did not see that. It is not even Bryce, Norman, or Isaac being selfish. This is a team that is incredibly poorly coached on offense. There is no set offense. Three points.
1. The bench is not part of the offense at all. Steve Alford talks a lot about the blue and gold teams playing in practice. It is obvious the bench does not practice the offense.
- UCLA tried to run a double stack at one point in the game. As Isaac Hamilton was in foul trouble Noah Allen was in. Noah did not know what to do and had to ask the coaches. He literally had no clue. This is not on Allen. It is pretty obvious that Noah has been told to stay on the wing and make runs at the basket on occasion. Noah is a smart kid who had never practice this set despite the fact he is the only backup at three positions.
- Goloman does not even look to score shoot or do anything else on offense. If someone scouts UCLA they could easily play 5 on 4 with Goloman in the game, which is what happen at the end. Allen at least has a move. Goloman does not set screens either. He just stands around outside as an outlet trying not to make a mistake.
- At this point in his career Thomas Welsh is a poor man's Travis Wear on offense. He has a decent mid-range jumper. Like Travis, Welsh cannot create his own shot. However, unlike Travis Welsh does not move without the ball. Welsh needs either a point guard to pass him the ball or to start moving without the ball. He picks his spot on the floor and just stays there. This is on the coaches as Welsh is the ultimate coachable kid.
2. A defense of some of the guard's bad shots is caused by the terrible set offense.
- At one point we had a lineup of Bryce, Norman with a dislocated thumb, Goloman, Welsh and Noah. Goloman wasn't even looking at the basket. Welsh was stuck 16 feet out and in cement. His man was staying on him and he was not going to be able to shoot. Noah was trying but he looked like a wide receiver focusing on catching the ball. Noah was not going to shoot. This left Bryce and Norman. In two trips Bryce forced an ugly shot and then Norman forced an ugly shot. The two had to shoot because the other three guys weren't going to shoot or move and as a result they both went on drives that were ugly. In person, you could see Bryce was trying not to shoot but really with that set offense it was either Bryce or Norman forcing a bad shot.
- Looney floats all over the court. He never tries to post up and he looks like a tall three more than a four. Looney is a very good four with the ball in his hands. He is a poor three hanging around the three point line. He looks lost in the set offense. What should be our best player can't even get in a position for a good shot for him most of the time. Which means either Tony Parker posting or the guards forcing a shot.
- On the last shots, Goloman's man was not even pretending to play him. He doubled Bryce on one of them. It was a smart move because what the heck is Goloman going to do standing outside the three point line.
3. Why this is a tragedy: these kids are trying and want to be coached.
- The loudest guy on the court is Thomas Welsh. He is screaming out every pick and directing the defense. It is actually quite impressive for a freshman. This is a kid who wants to do what is best and it is up to the coaches to tell him.
- Kevon Looney is a good passer. Kevon Looney is not a wing. Looney has the makings of a very good high post player. He can hit the jumper from there. Pass. Or even drive. Looney's amazing talent is being wasted as he floats around directionless in the offense. I saw "plays" called for the other four players but nothing for Looney.
- Isaac Hamilton is a very good shooting three. That's it. He is a catch and shoot guy. He can be a deadly set shooter. However, making Isaac put the ball on the floor, let alone act as a point(!!!) is insane. Isaac ball handling woes were exposed again this game and Looney is necessary to help break the press. Yet, Isaac does not move without the ball much. He is often trying to create his own shot and against good teams the predictable turnover happens.
- Bryce is a two guard. He is better than most people give him credit for at this. But Bryce is so much better off the ball, it is a tragedy the coach has made him play on the ball. He also sometimes struggles with ball pressure. Bryce even moves so much better when he is off the ball.
4. Steve Alford is wasting some great kids and a great college.
- To start the game UCLA ran a play with Tony Parker throwing an alleyoop to Norman Powell. It was the best play of the game for UCLA. Parker is not going to make anyone forget Bill Walton or even Jelani McCoy but he is a solid center working hard out there. The team defense is so much better when Parker is in the game and he is does a good job in the post. Parker is arguably the only guy playing close to his potential. Yet, Parker is the starter that plays the least because he is the only starter with a backup.
- Forget the box score, Norman Powell was amazing. I watched Norman calmly walk to the bench with his dislocated thumb facing the wrong way. Norman went to the locker room just long enough to have his thumb pulled out and shoved back in again. I thought Powell was out until halftime at least. Nope. Powell came back in and while getting his hand wrapped was ignoring the trainer to crane his head and watch the game. This is one tough kid. I know it effected Powell but he never complained and played his heart out.
- People in L.A. may not realize this but UCLA basketball is a big deal to the Alabamas of the world. I was told their players were a bit nervous playing UCLA and the crowd was pumped up more than usual at the chance to beat UCLA. It was a "big win" for the Alabama program and players even if it was over a poorly coached UCLA team. The four letters mean something around the country.
Others are better at laying out the case against Steve and Dan Guerrero. I will just say it is really sad watching this in person. These are good kids that deserve better. This is a team that is playing way below its potential on offense. That is on Steve Alford.