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UCLA Basketball -- Week 11 Hoops Q&A: Post-Oregon Meltdown Edition

After winning three straight in LA, the Bruins went up to Oregon, and like so many times before in UCLA Hoops lore, they lost both games. Is there anything left to play for? The pitch forks are sure to come out again if they lose both games at Pauley this week.

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1) GG and Welsh looked good, relatively speaking, in the Oregon State game, but were ineffective, if not a detriment in Eugene. Would you still put GG in the starting lineup?

chrissorr: There was never a good answer with this team. It's too flawed. I think we always stipulated that. However, after these last two games, I would bench Isaac. My preference is to bench Bryce to set an example, but that's not happening, and Isaac has been particularly bad. There's definitely something to the idea that if you remove one toxic piece, the whole gets better. I don't really think Isaac is toxic -- that's been overblown, but Bryce probably is. Nevertheless, perhaps Isaac would give a spark of the bench, and he must realize there are consequences -- not for shooting so much, but for turnovers. Inserting GG won't be a miracle cure, but he plays better with both Tony and Kevon in the lineup.

DCBruins: Yes.GG still out played Isaac.  Isaac's confidence is shot and he is now a terrible defender.   He looks lost on the court.  GG is a team player that has shown some upside.  Further right now I like GG shooting wide open threes more than Isaac.  The only reason not to do it is it could ruin what's left of Isaac Hamilton's confidence.  Isaac is better than he is playing but right now he is just awful.

2) Assistant Coach Schilling says that UCLA does not have any plays for Looney.  Discuss.

DCBruins: It is hard not to give an R rated answer to this.  I want Tydides to answer here. I get that Looney is not a good back to the basket player.  He is not Tony Parker in the post.  Yes he is not great as a traditional low post but he is great off the dribble and a decent passer.  I don't think there is any four outside of Arizona that can cover him.  Isolate him; put him in the high post.  It is complete failure of coaching that we do not call any plays for our best player.

chrissorr: I think they should give him a clear-out, and let him take a 4 to the hole.

I've become a bit suspicious of Schilling's worth. Probably too loyal to Alford, but geez man, do something besides call plays for Bryce.

BTW, they only call plays off the tip-off, at the beginning of the half, and after time-outs as far as I can see. Last year, I could see it. The motion offense sort of worked. This year, there is no motion offense or transition offense. They are pretty much a half-court team.

3) Ignoring that it's too late, are there any what steps would you take, including or not including GG, with the lineup and schemes?

chrissorr: I would call more plays for GG. He will not shoot in the flow of the offense -- if there is a flow. I would also encourage Norman to take his man off the dribble, and shoot from outside less. There is a danger there in that he's been reckless before, and doesn't finish at a high enough rate, but I will take the chance at a layup any day especially with Kevon and Tony nearby. Finally, I would play Bryce off the ball more.

I would give GG a shot in the starting lineup. The problem here is that you would have to forget about having Bryce off the ball in this situation. If you played with this starting lineup for 15-18 minutes plus, and Hamilton/Powell running the offense for 22-25 minutes, that may be a good distribution.

The man defense gets better with Tony in the lineup. Let's hope he's not rusty this week.

DCBruins: 1.  Put Powell on the other team's best player 1-3, period.  If he fouls out, so what?  Is it better to have him play the whole game and lose by 20?   2.  Take Bryce off the ball as much as possible.  Tell Bryce he can't shoot a three off the dribble in the first 15 seconds of the clock. (I like the odds of us winning the PAC 12 tourney more than this actually happening.)  3.  See above on Looney.   4.  Play Parker close to 30 minutes a game at home where he less likely to get fouls assuming his back allows it.  We beat Stanford with him playing big minutes.

4)  Given Steve Alford's obscene buyout, do you think there is ANY way he could fired this season?

DCBruins:  If UCLA losses every game the rest of the season Alford would be fired.  I do not think this will happen but I feel this is more likely than UCLA making the NCAA tournament.  Realistically, if he finishes with a losing record with Bryce as the leader in minutes and shot attempts there is a chance.  This would not be just because of the losing record it would because of the ugly losses.  Howland's first team was bad as well but he was building a defense first culture.  This team is good at absolutely nothing except for marketing Bryce.

chrissorr: I don't think so. Remember that Guerrero is still there, and negotiated that insane contract, and then extended it for a reason. He does not want to go through the hiring process again.

If I'm playing this out anyway, I see two routes. One is to get rid of Guerrero one way or another. He'll be 64 in November. It's not so crazy to think he can be kicked upstairs to some cushy VP job within the university.

Second, Guerrero is still a very political animal. The whole UCLA world would have to rise up against Alford, and the money would have to be there. That Stanford win might have been pivotal. Happiest day of Guerrero's life.

As I write the second route, I can't see it. Guerrero fire a coach in the second year of his contract? Where have those whales been anyway? The day Guerrero hired Alford must be proof that that the whales are just a myth. The guy mentioned most just gave a boatload of money to the football facility. If you're able to box things up in your mind that way, and not think that supports Guerrero across the board, then it's hopeless.

Guerrero has to go one way or another.

5) What is UCLA playing for, or should burn the village in order to save it?

chrissorr: There was a moment before the three game streak in LA where I thought the tipping point on Steve Alford was reached, but I'm not so sure now. Let's think about that again later.

You have to do something for the players whether the fans like it or not. They can win at home -- start with that. If they win out this weekend (I can't see beating Utah), then start to talk about third place and the PAC-12 tournament again. Mostly, have short-term goals. If they wind up in the NIT, so be it. Try to win (even thought that would be a no win situation for the fans).

DCBruins:  I will respectful disagree.   Steve Alford's seat is warm and may be getting hot.  I think we lose 3 out of the next 4, with our only shot at a win against Colorado.  At that point we are 12-12.  After those four games, I think Oregon State can beat us at home.  If Colorado beats us, we could easily be on a seven game losing streak.   Regardless I think we are not going to be good enough for the NIT and a winning record may be an issue.  But more than wins and losses I am concerned about the way we are playing.

For example, we are losing to Utah, that is a lock.   The question now is how badly will Utah embarrass us?  Will we break 40 which we could not do in Utah (I think yes) or 50 (I think no).   The team has talent and should do better but it takes more than talent to win.  Steve Alford is burning the UCLA brand right now.