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UCLA Basketball: Mainstream Media Shaking Their Collective Heads at What Alford Has Done to Our Program

Criticism of Alford's "coaching" methods is raining down from many quarters. And these are national observers, with no obvious ax to grind. The UCLA brand still means something to the mainstream media, even if it doesn't to Guerrero or Alford.

Maybe if I pick at my scalp, it will look like I am thinking
Maybe if I pick at my scalp, it will look like I am thinking
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We have been suggesting for quite a while at BN that there is no joy in Westwood hoops, as Guerrero struck out with his hire of Alford. But thanks to three first round draft picks, and diminished expectations (Guerrero's specialty), the trip to the Steve-16 made the flaws in Alford's approach less apparent to outsiders. But now those flaws are apparent. The nepotism, the arrogance, the inability to use each player to the best of their individual and collective capabilities, are there for all to see. And the mainstream media is piling on, as well they should.

Let's start with what I consider to be the most eloquent statement about the current state of our program, in Mark Titus' power rankings in  Grantland. Here is what he says about his #8 team, Utah-

Did Utah just drive the final stake through UCLA’s heart? I’m starting to rethink Kentucky’s performance against the Bruins from a couple of weeks ago. Kentucky is good, sure, but maybe the main reason it massacred UCLA is that the Bruins are the opposite of good. I mean, Utah just held UCLA to 39 points, including 15 in the first half. UCLA is on a five-game losing streak and it’s averaged 47 points in its last four games. Bryce Alford is 5-for-39 over the last three games, including an 0-for-10 performance against Utah. I can’t tell what’s most dumbfounding: that Alford is shooting 13 percent from the field in his last three, that despite being ice cold he still averaged 13 shots per game in that span, or that his dad refuses to take him out or tell him to stop shooting

Wow. And here is recognition from Grantland of the UCLA brand. Block, Guerrero and TIARA may not care about dragging our program into the gutter, but Titus apparently doesn't share their view-

After three years of taking their licks in the Pac-12, the Utes just destroyed the conference’s flagship program. It doesn’t matter that UCLA is a pile of hot manure this season, or that the Pac-12’s real team to beat is Arizona. UCLA is still UCLA.  (emphasis added)

Arizona may be the team to beat in recent years, but we are still the flagship program. For Knight acolytes like TIARA, that may be hard to understand. For a UCLA alum like Guerrero, it should be impossible to forget. But here we are.

Turning to Yahoo Sports, here is some perspective from Jeff Eisenberg after the loss to Utah-

UCLA has only eight scholarship players and three scholarship guards this season because Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus and incoming freshman Jonah Bolden did not qualify academically and Alford didn't pursue any contingency plans.

It is interesting that even though Guerrero and TIARA never worked together before 2013, they seemed to have the same approach when it came to planning for the future. Pick one path, and don't even consider what happens if that path is blocked.

ESPN's Eamonn Brennan has an interesting capsulation of UCLA's offense-

UCLA's offense has stagnated while Alford dribbles, before quickly abandoning whatever set it wanted to run in favor of a simple high screen-and-roll. The ball doesn't move. Players don't move. A shot goes up, and Looney and Parker try to rebound it, and the whole thing kind of looks like those boring pickup games between players who have never met one another before.

Kyle Goon had a press row seat for the Salt Lake Tribune at last Sunday's game, when the Bruins showed the difference between a ranked and a rank team. And Kyle, to his credit, hat-tipped BN for asking a very relevant question-

UCLA (8-7, 0-2) is on a five-game losing streak, just scored the fewest points in a game since 1967, and looked generally lost in a 71-39 pummeling at the hands of the Runnin’ Utes.

Fan blog Bruins Nation had a post this week titled with the open-ended question "Did Alford Lose The Team?"

Here is a link to that excellent analysis from chrissorr and DCBruins. And while we are on the topic of insightful comments, don't forget the recommendation from chrissorr to bench Bryce.

Jake Curtis took note of the current disarray in the UCLA program in his weekly college basketball column for the SF Chronicle. Curtis goes through seven factoids about the season to date for the Bruins. For example,

UCLA is 8-7. Perspective: OK, that’s not good, but John Wooden’s Bruins started 8-7 twice, in 1959-60 and 1961-62, and they had a bit of success in the years that followed, as I recall.

And

Two of the Bruins’ defeats during the five-game skid were by more than 30 points. Perspective: Hey, Stanford beat UCLA by 48 points (109-61) in 1997, and the Bruins won the Pac-10 title and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight that season. OK, none of the Bruins’ other losses in 1996-97 was by more than 16 points, but ….

So you can see that Curtis tries to find the silver lining for Bruin fans. Here is the last item in the list. Even Pollyanna can't help with this one-

UCLA’s leading scorer, Bryce Alford, has missed his past 19 shots from the floor. He is 2-for-26 in Pac-12 games, including 0-for-10 while going scoreless in Sunday’s loss at Utah. Perspective: No comment.

chrissorr has the answer for this issue, as noted above. Too bad the current leader of the program would not want any advice to come between him and his son's playing time.

My own personal view is that Guerrero gave TIARA his outrageous contract, with the ridiculously excessive buyout provisions, because he wanted to ensure himself the luxury of not having to make any other high profile head coaching search before he is no longer the AD (in his world, through retirement).

I would love to see Guerrero get his wish, although not through his scenario (i.e. clean house and show Guerrero and TIARA the door). But Guerrero may not get his wish. With the mainstream media lobbing shots in left and right, it could only be a question of time before Guerrero has to wave the white flag.

Again, Mark Titus from Grantland said it best. We are still the flagship program in the conference. Let's act like it.