UCLA announced its 2014-15 Men's Basketball schedule yesterday.
It's going to be challenging:
"Upgrading our program’s schedule has been a priority for us all along, and we believe this is a big step in the right direction," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "When you factor in three games in an extremely competitive field at the Battle for Atlantis and three more games, all in a row, against Gonzaga, Kentucky and Alabama, we are confident that this schedule will prepare us for the Pac-12 grind and help position us for success in March. Our incoming freshmen and returning veterans have committed themselves to getting better each and every day this summer, and they can’t wait to get in front of our fans in Pauley Pavilion this fall."
Besides Kentucky and Gonzaga, the Bruins will have to travel to Arizona this time (again, not a home-and-home) on February 22, and the Battle4Atlantistournament. set for November 26-28, includes Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Butler and UAB, in addition to the Bruins. The brackets haven't been announced, but the Bruins may potentially play Wisconsin and UNC (not to mention Flordia) in addition to Kentucky and Arizona.
The program definitely achieved an upgrade over last year's cupcake non-conference which achieved nothing except to pad team and individual stats and launch Zach LaVine into the NBA.
What the schedule doesn't do is attract fans into Pauley. The marquis home game is Gonzaga. On the surface of it, there's nothing else. Stanford and USC had good recruiting classes, but come on! Why go to Pauley at 6PM on a Thursday (game times have not been set)? I should, however, add that the cupcake portion of the schedule (cupcakes are necessary for the arc of the team's development -- especially with a new cast), is an upgrade over last year as well with locals Fullerton and Long Beach.
What's the plan to do something about attendance? Well there was this item for students.
Note: Pauley update moved to another article. Wood and water don't mix, so I predict a new floor is coming -- I think there is time before the start of the season. There should be an update on the floor this morning.
Update: The floor shows signs of buckling.
Update #2: Officials say floor will be ready by the first exhibition game. Refurbished is the word they use as opposed to replace.
Here's the other news:
--Where is Kevin Love going? The leading candidates seem to be Cleveland and Chicago. Golden State is in the mix too because Minnesota wants Klay Thompson. It would appear that the Cavaliers have the best offer on the table: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and possibly future draft picks. This compares to the Bull's offer of Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott. Is there a comparison? Further, rumor is that Love would sign an extension with Cleveland for the opportunity to play with LeBron James. Minnesota has been dragging this out. Love is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year, and will absolutely not re-sign with the historically lame Timberwolves. Considering the circumstances, Minnesota will be getting a lot -- I didn't think they could do this well, so kudos to them if holding out was their strategy. If they don't pull the trigger, and have to settle for Taj Gibson alone or less next February, then they are still the same old dopes -- huge Bruin contingent (LaVine, Muhammad, Luc Richard) not withstanding.
--Alford and Powell spoke to Bleacher Report (maybe there is hope for my press credential). The premise of the article is that Alford is turning around UCLA's basketball fortunes quickly (taking credit for producing three first rounders is where this falls apart). Besides the tidbit on the moving the student section closer (see above link), we get that NBA scouts were at 92 of 106 practices and Powell is digging the program's vibe under Alford.
--Incoming freshman, Kevon Looney spoke to Ryan Karje of the OC Register. Turns out our Kyle Anderson, who also reeled in Shabazz Muhammad, helped recruit Looney -- Kevon likes that 6'9" Anderson handled the ball. He also sees himself as a 3. We knew this before, but had him penciled in as a power forward. Does this allow for a big lineup -- bringing in Bolden, or even a Parker/Welsh tandem more than planned? Depends on whether Looney can cover a college 3. Such a development would also also limit the likely three guard lineup. Somebody has to lose minutes: Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton, Norman Powell or Jon Octeus.
--Five-star power forward/center Stephen Zimmerman from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman announced his five official visits: Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, North Carolina and UCLA. If this is right, then of note -- he excluded UNLV. As I reported last week, Zimmerman is hard to call. I don't know that we can get him, but there are so many good big men in the Class of 2015, and the dominoes will start to fall once his Gorman teammate, Chase Jeter, makes his announcement -- expected next week, probably to Duke. Kansas and Arizona seem to be on every big's visit list in this cycle. We'll get a good one, but Bruins are still in a recruiting tier below Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Arizona and UConn.
--Zach LaVine continues to get rave reviews. NBA.com has several bloggers listing him as their favorite rookie.