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UCLA Basketball -- Week 8 Q&A: Did Alford Lose The Team?

Five losses in a row; two of them beat downs and two were winnable except for that little matter related to the coach's son. Will coming back to Pauley help? What do we do with Bryce? What happened to Looney?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

1)  Do you want to reevaluate your opinion of Bryce Alford?  His Dad says it is a shooting slump.

DCBruins: He is not a point guard.  One quick reason is he doesn't dribble with his head up. Another reason is very much shoot first.  I think he is fighting that a bit but his Dad is not helping it.  I can't believe the number of times out of timeouts Steve called a play for Bryce to shoot.  Even worse if in some demented way Steve thinks Bryce scoring is key he should at least call a play that gets his slumping but very good free throw shooting son in a position to get fouled instead of calling long threes for him.

chrissorr: It's really hard to separate the dad from the son, fair or not. Steve calls plays for Bryce when the Bruins are down and Bryce is 0 for the game, and Bryce doesn't even need the play calling - he dribbles down and shoots. It's so dangerous to have your point guard be the shooter. He's got to be the absolute star of the team. I watched Stanford's Chasson Randle and I came away not liking him. I can see Kobe trying to fight his way out of a slump, but Bryce? Do something else damn it. In terms of reevaluation, we don't have a point guard and yet I'd take a chance not playing Bryce. Let him shoot 1000 jumpers at night after practice while he sits on the bench. That's how most coaches and players get over it.

2)  Will coming home to Pauley help? Stanford is up next.

chrissorr: It will be interesting. I've been saying all along that nerves, playing under the bright lights, has been a big first half problem for this team. Bryce might score 20 and Looney might get 15 again. I watched Stanford vs. Washington. Stanford can't handle bigs and you can overplay Randle -- he will not go to his left. I won't be surprised by a blow-out by Stanford, and it may be the best thing for the long-run cause, but they may pull it out as well. I didn't like Nastic or Brown very much.

DCBruins: What will the crowd be like?  I honestly don't know what the students will be like but the alumni and season ticket holders will be staying away and or booing Steve Alford.  It will be a unique home court environment.  However, if the students show up and cheer, then the alumni loss won't be that bad.  The second factor at home the SPTR are also interesting.  Generically they favor the home PAC 12 team.   Looney will be the one to watch.  If Looney is going to the line a lot, then we are looking better.  However, if it continues to be the three guards doing wild shots, then they won't be able to help us much.  (It is easy to give a foul call on a post move or a drive to the basket, hard to do on 25 footer.)    

3) We spoke about losing the team.  Has Steve Alford lost the team?

DCBruins: Yes.  To me the most concrete example is Kevon Looney.  Looney looked all-world early in the year.  This was not just a product of the cupcakes as Looney was dominate in the North Carolina and Oklahoma games (We were plus in the plus/minus for Looney's time in both those games.)  Looney was an unstoppable force in that Oklahoma game trying his best to will us to victory in particular.  Now, Looney looks like he just ran a marathon and is trying to play basketball.  Looney has not had double digit points rebounds during the losing streak and only double digit points in the first game of the streak.  Looney was averaging over 6 free throw attempts a game to start the season and he is averaging two during the losing streak.  Looney is an incredible talent that is being wasted, giving up, or worse.  This is ugly.

chrissorr: I was thinking of Looney. What happened to him? Freshman wall fatigue, frustration or does everyone knows him now. Combination of all three and I would not be surprised to know Alford lost him. Playing a game at home will tell a lot. If there is no comeback, we know they're gone. Period.

4) There was a stretch in the first half where Alford played Parker, Looney, Golomon, Allen and Hamilton in a zone. We've been talking about Welsh instead of Golomon and, of course, Powell. What's your opinion of the big lineup now?

chrissorr: First, if Alford did lose the team, there's nothing you can do. I do want to see Welsh, Parker, Looney, Powell and Hamilton. Golomon certainly is more natural at the three, but the other team is playing 5 on 4 with him in. Alford already is going to a pick and roll midseason, so let him try Wooden high post sets. The question is who is on the high post. I think you like Looney there, and he is more capable of taking the crucial step towards the basket, but you might lose Welsh putting him on the baseline anywhere near Tony. I would also like to see Tony get the ball close to the basket.

DCBruins: While everyone is focusing on Bryce and the guards and Tony is playing hard, no one is focusing on the disappearance of our best player, Kevon Looney. Getting Looney involved is key and making this a big man team first.  Related to that, I would use Welsh as the backup high post.  Get Welsh 20+ minutes a game playing for Looney and Parker.  But going all three of them in at once?  Well that leads to Looney playing three which I think is counterproductive.  The biggest mission on offense should be how to take advantage of Looney.  He is our best, albeit currently ignored/forgotten weapon.