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UCLA Basketball: What Should The Bruins Do Now? How About Bench Bryce.

After five losses in a row, including two dismemberments (and Utah isn't a junior NBA team), we can only hope that returning to Pauley helps, but the prognosis is not good. What is there left to do? I have two ideas: one of them involves Bryce.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The play that upset me most about this game occurred at 15:09 of the second half. The Bruins were already down 44-17, Bryce Alford was already 0-8, and still his father Steve, the head coach of UCLA, called a play for him. Bryce ran the baseline through two screens, and then missed an open jumper from the corner. Down by 27, 0-8, 0-9 from three vs. Colorado, Tony Parker and Kevon Looney did not touch the ball much, and Steve Alford calls a play for his son. After the Colorado game, Steve Alford said:

"Yeah, he had a tough game shooting it. I thought he handled it well, getting hounded pretty good. This was one game he didn't shoot it well, and he has a lot of pressure on him, a lot on his shoulders. I understand that and appreciate that. He gave great effort. I thought he handled the ball well, did a lot of good things that way and was solid defensively. It was just a night where he couldn't make a shot. You're going to have nights like that. Hopefully, he doesn't have too many of them. There were some ill-advised shots. He wants to do so well.

So call another play for him.

Jeff Eisenberg knows what's wrong with the Bruins:

UCLA doesn't have a true point guard capable of orchestrating the offense and getting guys the ball in positions to score the way Kyle Anderson did last season. Anderson's replacement, Bryce Alford, is ill-suited for the role because he has a volume shooter's mentality and lacks the court vision, shot selection and ability to create off the dribble the point guard position demands.

It's getting hard to analyze the games from UCLA's standpoint. It's the same story: the Groundhog Day miserable shooting first half except this time there was no second half comeback. We've analyzed, critiqued and given advice. I just have one more piece of advice:

Bench Bryce! I've mentioned the big lineup before; I had it as Looney, Parker, Welsh, Powell and Alford. I favored benching Hamilton, and having him come off the bench when Bryce misbehaves. Six of one; half-dozen of the other. Yes...we all know about the bench -- no one is coming to the rescue. As crappy as it is, I'd play six except for token minutes.

Look at Bryce' stats for the past two games. By themselves, you wouldn't really get the picture from the stats. You see a starter with two piss-poor games away from home and at altitude who had the team's worst plus/minus. You don't see the partial-look one-handed whip passes (I actually think Tony was ready for it yesterday), dribbling around the baseline under the basket four times vs. Utah, bringing the ball up as the point guard and launching NBA-range three's without passing first and shooting and missing on possession after possession in the last seven minutes of a winnable Colorado game. Against Utah, I can absolutely say the Bruins looked better with Bryce on the bench.

Colorado Utah
PTS 8 0
FG 2-16 0-10
3FG 0-9 0-4
FT 4-4 0-0
OR 0 0
DR 5 1
REB 5 1
A 4 5
PF 3 0
TO 3 2
BL 0 1
ST 4 0
MIN 37 32
+/- -6 -33

There's a bigger point. Bryce doesn't know his place -- he's not Stephen Curry - and yet he keeps shooting instead of finding another way to contribute (he played no defense at all on Taylor or Wright) when it's not falling.

Then at best, Bryce' father the coach has a blind eye for his son. Of course it may be more sinister than that. Sinister in that the coach is willing to risk engendering a toxic locker room, and lose winnable games like Colorado. You know the back story. One more thing: I understand that I have to tread lightly -- it's hard separating the father from the son; however, they're both making basketball mistakes.

About the game...

The only interesting sequence for UCLA happened from 11:15 to 6:16. UCLA went into a zone which seemed to stop the bleeding, and Poeltl picked up his second foul towards the end of the range at 7:08. With Bryce and Norman Powell, on the bench, the Bruins had a chance to get within four. After a block by Parker, Tony passed up to Noah Allen on the right wing and hit Golomon streaking down the middle. GG missed the layup, Utah scored the next time down to lead 23-15, Tony Parker picked up his second, Welsh came in for him, and the Bruins didn't score for the rest of the half - 6 minutes and 16 seconds. And yet...the second half was worse. Only one man seemed willing to play just like in the Kentucky game: Tony Parker. Perhaps he needed redemption after the Colorado fiasco. He scored 12 points with only 3 rebound; modest stats but he did foul out covering Jakob Poeltl who had 9 points in a balanced Utah attack. Looney covered Reyes. That's what we've come to -- perhaps the most gifted, but exhausted Bruin had to be protected from foul trouble.

BTW, will any of the advice herein make this team win, be taken by Alford or get rid of Dan Guerrero? No, No and No.