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UCLA Basketball: Week 15 Hoops Q&A -- Post Desert Letdown Edition

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Close, but no cigar! The Bruins lost two game in the desert, and now have to pray for Oregon and Stanford meltdowns and do very well in the PAC-12 Tournament. We take a close look at what happened.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

1) While everyone is focusing on Tony's disastrous last two games, what about Isaac Hamilton?

DCBruins: Bryce took some wild shots and screwed up the offensive flow but he made some of them.  Isaac shot 1-6 and missed the bad shots.  To be clear I am less concerned about Isaac missing shots then his shot selection.  It is really discouraging at this late point in the season to see Isaac playing so poorly mentally.  Especially after a home stand where he had 16 assists in two games.  Isaac needs to understand his job and role on this team.  He seems to somewhat understand at home, but on the road he looks like an immature AAU player at times.

chrissorr: The year off was not good for Isaac. It seems as if he didn't make the mental transition from high school to college. Also, I think he has a mellow personality so you will probably never extreme passion from him. He didn't perform to my expectations in the season preview, but I did say he might be asked to do too much on this team: play point, defense and score.

I disagree with what I've been reading about him regarding the Arizona game. I concede the offensive problems, although, and this goes for everyone, the f'n PAC-12 refs took the whole team out of the game.

His man-to-man defense was great. It had a lot to do with the two big runs. He shared minutes on Stanley Johnson (7 points) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (2 point). Think about how much taller and heavier those two are, and their game style, which is to dribble-drive. Arizona won that game in the last 10 minutes of the first half with York and Ristic in and Tony Parker out.

2) What is going on with Tony Parker? He fouled out of two games in a row relatively early, and his lines were 2 points and 1 rebound vs. Arizona and 5-1 Arizona State.

chrissorr: UCLA is in big trouble if Tony is checked out for the season -- we can debate later if they can still get into the NCAA or not. He seems easily frustrated. The three things that bother him most are: not getting the ball when he's established position on the post, getting doubled, and drawing ticky-tack fouls.

After seeing Tarczewski play, now I think Parker is the best center in the league (if it's not Poeltl now, it probably will be next year) if he would just go out there and play every game.

He did progress this year, and I expect more, especially next year if he hasn't totally checked out.

I sympathize to a degree.  Yes, he should be fed more. As someone who has done a little time in the low post, there is a timing to it. Not only do you want the ball after a battle for position, you want it fast and in the right place to make your move while your defender is still recovering from the battle. The entry pass is a lost art in college basketball since the wings are there only to shoot now.

Still, he needs to get over it. He should be all-conference - definitely next year.

DCBruins: Tony Parker has always had an eccentric personality. I have some sympathy for him regarding the SPTR.  That said, he is a Junior and should know how the games are going to be called at this point in his career.  He made a couple bad frustration fouls in each of the last two games.  As a Freshman maybe that is understandable, as a Junior no.  Those should never happen.

On another note, teams have finally figured out how to defend Tony, double him.  Tony can beat any PAC 12 center one on one.  He can't beat a double team.  He really needs to learn how to pass out of the double.  If he can add that dimension to his game, he will be a very good PAC 12 center.

3) What happen to UCLA on the Boards in Arizona?

DCBruins: Kevon Looney making so many threes is both good and bad.  Good for the obvious reasons. Bad because it drags him away from the basket.

While many are going to focus on the SPTR for favoring the home team, they also take away Tony's aggressiveness. This goes both ways.  Tony gets away with more than he should at home and gets called for too much on the road.  Looney was also affected by fouls.

The last reason is, of course, the bench.  GG is a terrible rebounder - 1 rebound vs. Arizona.  Welsh is too weak to maintain position and gives up more rebounds than he should.

chrissorr: Don't forget that Arizona did the same thing to Utah. They are good on boards on both ends. In the preview, I said I wouldn't be surprised by this.

It is worse than I thought for three reasons: Tony has checked out, Welsh cannot rebound with players that strong, and the refs fouled out all our big men.

We can debate about the impact of the refs forever, but that game made me sick. Damn it.  Let them play. They called offensive fouls on three straight possessions at one point. Even worse is the number of fouls they called in the back court.

The replays showed there was a foul on all of these calls, but the PAC-12 refs are like little Catholic school girls following all the rules to the letter. How can you even play the game this way?

4) Seth Greenberg said, at halftime, Arizona can be Final Four, and possibly beat Kentucky. What do you think?

chrissorr: I laughed my ass off.

I'm not basing too much on one game. I thought they were a top seed preseason, but I just don't think they are a top seed this now. They're offense is too easy to shut down.  It's Kentucky, Virginia and Duke. The fourth can be anybody; still, I just don't think it should be Arizona except the quality drop-off is very sharp after the first three.

I'm not even sure they win the PAC-12 regular season or Tournament. I actually feel a little better to get them on a neutral court in Vegas.

DCBruins: As you say, Arizona is not a good offensive team.  If they played played Kentucky, Kentucky might hold them to 44 points.  The difference being they might lose 55-44 as they are a very good defensive team. Arizona is not the best team in the West even.  Gonzaga was homered big time in their loss at Arizona.  Gonzaga would beat Arizona most games on a neutral site.   Gonzaga is not as good on defense but much better on offense.  

5) Let's do a lightning round on the Arizona game. The rules are that you must keep it short, and you can't change the coaches, location of the game or the relative talent level.

A) With 20-20 hindsight, what would you do differently if you are UCLA?

chrissorr: Lay-off Johnson. McConnell and Hollis-Jefferson on the perimeter, and not hedge or switch on Tarczewski.

DCBruins:  Send Powell to the hoop more early in the game. Powell had one dunk and the rest of his shots in the first half were jumpers.  The way this game was reffed, he might fouled out a couple guys and finished with 12 free throw attempts if he did so.

B) What surprised you most about Arizona?

chrissorr: They don't use Tarczewski at all.

DCBruins:  Ristic is a good offensive center.

C) What surprised you most about UCLA?

chrissorr: Hamilton covering Hollis-Jefferson and he only got 5 rebounds. Norman more than held his own.

DCBruins: Our defense was able to shut down Arizona for large parts of the game.

D) Arizona won the battle of the boards, the fouls and the turnovers. How did UCLA keep it close?

chrissorr: May have been a letdown game for Arizona despite Gameday. Possessions were low, and their offense is easy to shut down.

DCBruins:  Looney and Alford were hitting some low percentage shots.  Going into the game I think Miller would be fine with letting Looney take those shots.

E) One reason. Why did UCLA lose?

chrissorr: Tony didn't show up again.

DCBruins: The Bench.  Arizona's bench is better than the starters on offense.  Our starters are better with four fouls than our bench on defense.