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UCLA Basketball: Fun Poll - Vote on the 2014-15 Starting Lineup

With only one returning starter, and five newcomers to the squad, what will the starting lineup be for the 2014-15 Bruin hoopsters?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

I thought I had next season's starting lineup nailed down, but then came the surprising news that SAlford promised a starting slot to recent graduate transfer from Colorado State, Jon Octeus.  Something (nepotism) or someone (Powell, Hamilton, Parker or Looney besides Bryce) has to give.

Continuing last year's tradition of preseason polls, I want to hear the community's collective voice, but first, just a bit of updated post-Jordan analysis.

I was pretty sure the starting lineup would be Powell, Parker, Looney, Hamilton and Alford.  If the Octeus story is true, then I would suspect that Octeus replaces Alford.  We'll see other rotations -- I've included three of them in the poll:  besides these six, I expect Jonah Bolden to get major minutes at the 3 and 4, and Welsh to get significant minutes, approximately 15, at center.  It will be interesting to see if SAlford goes nine deep, giving minutes to Allen, Bail or Golomon.

The good news for next year is that the Bruins should be better at defense and rebounding.  There is no place to go but up, however, in Looney, Octeus and Welsh, you have three players who are serious about making an effort in these two areas which have been lacking for four years now.

My concern is on the offensive end:

  1. Is the point guard situation adequate?
  2. Where will the points come from without Jordan Adams?

It's hard not to be skeptical about the point guard position next year.  We have two guys who can cover a point guard, but no one who's proven he could do the job on both sides of the ball adequately at the PAC-12 level.  Bryce was not that player last year.  Isaac Hamilton, though a McDonalds' All American two years ago, was a shooting guard known for scoring in high school.  SAlford has said that the point guard minutes would be divided between Bryce and Isaac before Octeus signed up.  Octeus was a combo guard at CSU who became their point guard by his senior year.  He was known for his perimeter defense, not his shooting, but frankly, I'll take that if the net result is that Bryce spends more time on the bench.

There will be pressure on Hamilton to replace Jordan Adam's points, but the offense will have to undergo a transformation -- at least in part.  I expect to see more of, but not exclusively,  a "back-to-the-basket" look with an accompanying emphasis on offensive rebounding led by Parker, Looney, Welsh and Bolden (to a lesser extent).  It will be up to Hamilton and BAlford to spread the floor and keep defenses honest with their shooting while Powell and Octeus create running opportunities with their defense on the perimeter.

SAlford has acknowledged the need to move in this direction, but can the 2014-15 Bruins pull this off?  Here are the keys:

  1. Hamilton has to be as good a scorer as advertised.
  2. Parker has to continue his progress, especially with respect to boxing out and playing defense without fouling.
  3. Looney will grab rebounds, but he needs to be an offensive force down low despite his thin frame.
  4. BAlford needs to develop his shot where he naturally belongs - as a spot-up 2.

Welsh will be an interesting case.  If you happen to tune into his game on the offensive end with his back to the basket, you would be in awe of his big man skills and effort.  If you catch him while he's in transition, you would say he shouldn't be on the court right now.  His plodding style makes it likely offenses will try to get their bigs down the floor ahead of him.  That said, to my eye, his progress has been incredible.  He'll be a good test case for the drill master, Coach Ed Schilling.

Jonah Bolden is this year's designated "player with upside."  From Australia, Bolden garnered attention from the big programs late, and then UCLA signed him in December.  At 6‘9", he's probably a stretch-4.  His tapes mainly show him facing the basket and shooting from the perimeter (plus the customary dunking).  If he can play major college 3, another hole for us, it would be a bonus.  Alford said he had size last year, but Parker, the Wears and Bail were technically weak rebounders and defenders.  Next season, you might see a legitimate big rotation if Parker, Looney and Bolden can actually be on the floor at the same time.

And now, on to the poll!