Forget Josh Rosen and the football team struggles, UCLA is a basketball school now with the 119-80 rout of Pacific with the debut of Lonzo Ball. A few headlines:
It took UCLA's Lonzo Ball one play to justify the hype
Lonzo Ball steals the show as UCLA defeats Pacific 119-80
UCLA brings excitement back to Pauley Pavilion
Ball got all the headlines because of this kin of play:
After Aaron Holiday came away with a steal, Ball bolted down the side of the court before cutting inside and finishing a massive alley-oop on the head of the Tigers' D.J. Ursery. Ball isn't well-known for his finishing at the rim, but he clearly showed he's got the ability to play above the hoop on this no doubt top-10 play.
Ball opened the game with a three pointer to open his career. He never slowed down. In 34 minutes he had 19 points (6-8, 3-4 three), 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals and just one turnover in 35 minutes. Wow.
Ball was so good he obscured some very good games by other players. Including the other freshman's debut who in any normal circumstances would have been the focus of reporters instead of Lonzo and his lob dunk:
"I think it'll probably be No. 1 on Sportscenter," said freshman T.J. Leaf, who finished with 22 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. "Lonzo, when he's catching lobs and going for blocks, I don't know anyone who can jump as high."
Ball's tidy stat line in his debut: 19 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Leaf was equally impressive, shooting 9 for 13 from the field to contribute to UCLA's 61 percent shooting.
I can't remember another time when a player has a debut as good as Leaf's that was virtually ignored.
A couple analytic notes from the box score and game:
*this team can scored, 5 guys had double digits, only Thomas Welsh had an off game.
*29 assists to 12 turnovers
*Bryce had 30 points and played zero minutes at point
*Holiday was awesome in only 24 minutes including scoring 10 in his first three
*Finding Holiday minutes is going to be interesting. Gyrorgy Goloman fouled out in just 6 minutes. Alex Olesinski was hurt. Welsh also battled foul trouble which limited him to 26 minutes. Leaf played 37 minutes as a result but again Holiday only played 24 despite UCLA playing a fair amount of 4 guards.
We have our expectations published soon. Alford has the horses to deliver a great season as shown by the three point record set last night. The spectacular play of Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf need to lead to an elite season to forget last season and earlier seasons:
"We've all apologized enough for what happened last year and we've moved on," Alford said. "When you can have an opener like this, word spreads. ... Wow, 119 points, that hasn't happened in over 20 years. School record 18 bombs that went in. That's fun."
Last night was fun, let's make the season fun.