UCLA is in sole possession of second place behind Arizona at the mid-point of the PAC 12 season. This is right where BruinsNation expected and the media predicted UCLA would be. Guess what? No one, even Steve Alford, is happy with it.
In addition to his losing it last week and having a locker room meltdown, Steve was talking about the failure to get separation. While the PAC 12 is a better conference this year then recent years, a key injury at Colorado, an utter collapse at Oregon, a consistently inconsistent UC Bekeley, have made the conference easier than was expected. Even Arizona who has what looked like the best defense in the nation lost a key big in Brandon Ashley. As Steve puts it UCLA should have a two game lead in the conference and some separation.
We could not agree with you more Steve.
In a bit of humor, ESPN's bracketology currently has UCLA playing Harvard in the
first second round of the tournament. Not only did Harvard beat the Steve Alford coached New Mexico last year but they lost to Arizona in the next game. Most people forget that NCAA officials said they would have given that Arizona slot to UCLA had Jordan Adams not been hurt.
Tomorrow night is the Just SC game. The first time they met I predicted the most fun game of the season and UCLA tied its all-time scoring record in that game. As Alford points out in the interview above UCLA scored 36 points in transition against Just SC but only six against Oregon State. This is a team that needs to run.
Is Just SC what the Doctor ordered for UCLA? Just SC one win in conference came over UC Berkeley. In that game, Just SC started hot shooting and UC Berkely could never catch up. This seems like a great game to come out as Class of 66 would say Barn Cats and not let Just SC think they can play with UCLA.
Last add in that interview, Steve talks about Zach LaVine needing to slow down in the half court and speed up in transition. One thing for sure is Zach's recent slump has hurt his NBA draft stock. While I don't agree with all of this, this ditty from a Chicago Bulls blog, it is typical of some of the draft boards right now.
To put it simply: Zach LaVine can do some crazy-ass shit on a basketball court.
This guy is going to win a dunk contest someday. He has that type of athleticism. LaVine is as explosive as any player in the 2014 draft this side of Andrew Wiggins. He can casually elevate for windmills, 360s and under-the-leg dunks. LaVine has got range, too, shooting 42.7 percent on 3.7 attempts from three-point territory this season. He has ideal size (6'5, 180 lbs.) and athleticism for an NBA two-guard. Think J.R. Smith as an NBA comp, only without all of the premonitions about his character.
The problem with LaVine is that he's been inconsistent and he's stuck behind another NBA prospect in Jordan Adams. In his last three games, LaVine has scored a total of 11 points while playing about 23 minutes per game. He's had plenty of good games as well, like the 19 points he dropped on Arizona State or the 21 he put up against Nevada.
I think LaVine is losing more minutes to Bryce Alford than Adams but Adams and LaVine's shooting slumps are causes for concern.
So UCLA can maintain its lead and on paper at least start to live up to its expectations. However, a number of other things need to improve for UCLA to truly reach its potential.