The real test of UCLA basketball begins tomorrow at the Wooden Legacy Tournament. Likely all UCLA opponents will be better than the teams they have played so far. It will be a chance to prove that Steve Alford can coach this team up to its potential fitting of a UCLA team in a tournament named for John Wooden. Or will he prove the doubters that pick UCLA fourth or 1-2 in the tournament right.
UCLA first game carries some dubious history. In the beginning of the end for Ben Howland in 2009, UCLA lost to Portland in a preseason tournament in route to an 0-3 tournament record and a losing record.
That UCLA team started the season off with a shocking loss to Fullerton. This UCLA team enters the game with a 4-0 record, a 14 ranking and leading the nation in scoring.
Portland is ranked 145 by KenPom which is the best of any team UCLA has played so far. Portland is coached by former Trailblazer star Terry Porter and is 3-0. They scored 98 in their last game. That said, UCLA should win this game easily against a Portland team that may try to run with us.
Next up is likely the Dayton Flyers coached by Archie Miller, the brother of Arizona's Sean Miller. Dayton was on the edge of the top 25 but lost at home 61-57 to #17 St. Mary's.
Dayton is ranked 38 by Ken Pom and 36 in defense. The latter is more interesting because it will be the first time this UCLA team has played a quality defense. Dayton will definitely not to try to run with the Bruins.
It is too hard to predict what's next for UCLA but it could even be Alford's last school, New Mexico.
Why it certain is this will test Alford's seven man rotation in games back to back. Alford's UCLA record has not exactly been stellar in these tournaments where a bench comes into play.
This year should be different, if for no other reason than Aaron Holiday would likely start for all the other teams in the tournament.
And that's just it, UCLA is the top ranked team in this tournament. It is not enough to not embarrass ourselves like the last time against Portland, UCLA needs to win the tournament like Wooden would.