Bruins Nation was given an opportunity to talk with Bruin great and Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean about the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament.
This came together very quickly, so my apologies to Donny Mac if I didn't get his words exactly right.
Bruins Nation: What will it take for UCLA to get an NCAA bid?
Don MacLean: A week ago, I thought it would take UCLA winning their first Pac-12 Tournament game. They're still in the mix with one win, but now, after a week's bubble action, I think UCLA will have to knock off Arizona.
BN: Many of us have come to the same conclusion. The Bruins gave the Wildcats a tough game at McKale, but three bigs fouled out. Does UCLA have a shot to beat Arizona in the Tournament?
DM: The neutral site makes a big difference, and the Bruins should have confidence because they were leading in the second half in the last game.
Depth is a big issue for the Bruins, and that will be magnified in a back-to-back tournament situation. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton are playing a lot of minutes -- can they handle big minutes in the tournament? Also, Tony Parker and Kevon Looney get into foul trouble often. Arizona is very physical so they will look to foul the Bruin bigs out.
BN: If you were the UCLA coach, what would you do against Arizona - in terms of X's and O's?
DM: UCLA has to establish its inside-out game with Tony Parker. However, Arizona is so big and physical that they are one of the few teams that can take the inside game away.
One of Arizona's weaknesses is that they don't guard the three point shot well. The Bruins will ultimately have to make their threes to win.
BN: What do you think about Steve Alford's coaching job at UCLA?
DM: He's done a good job -- he had immediate success last season.
He lost three first-rounders from last year, so the expectations had to be lower this year. The team has improved over the course of the year. It was always going to take time.
Moving forward is the most important thing. He will have to bring in players like Jaylen Brown and Stephen Zimmerman to challenge Arizona, which is the gold standard.
BN: Do you get along with Bill Walton?
DM: Sure, I get along with Bill.
BN: Bill Walton has been very critical of Tony Parker, Kevon Looney, and Thomas Welsh not getting the ball more. As a great scoring big yourself, do you think UCLA would be better served with those three taking more shots?
DM: Bill has to remember that he was one of the all-time great bigs. The team passed the ball in to him all the time because he was so good. The Bruin bigs are not him. Certain match-ups take time to establish. As other teams adjusted, the guards had to shoot. Ultimately, the Bruins will have to hit their threes to win.
BN: Do you think Bryce Alford would be better served playing the two guard in the future? If you had to choose one for Bryce, would you make him a point or a two guard?
DM: Bryce Alford has done a good job, but when I look at him, I don't feel like I'm watching a point guard. In a perfect world, he would be playing off-the-ball.
BN: Talk about Norman Powell.
DM: He made first team all-conference. It's great that he's a four-year player, and improved every year.
He has the ability to take it up a notch. The PAC-12 Tournament, and maybe the NCAA Tournament, can serve as a showcase for his talents as he heads to the Draft.
He might carry UCLA on his back to victories.
Thanks to Don MacLean for taking the time to talk with us about the Pac-12 Tournament and Bruins Basketball!