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Jonah Bolden is key tonight for UCLA v. Arizona

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Bolden needs a big game tonight, but is Steve Alford giving him the best chance to succeed

Here's to hoping Bolden's D will make a difference.
Here's to hoping Bolden's D will make a difference.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The big focus right now is on the four spot.  It is all about Jonah Bolden.  But here is the key quote:

The switch from Parker to Bolden as a starter was UCLA's first in-season lineup change in two seasons.

The last one before that was Travis Wear for Tony Parker and to me was injury related (as Wear was hurt to start the season).  You can make an argument this is the only "real" in season lineup change made by Steve Alford during a season.

I must admit it frustrates me.  More from the Intern's article on Bolden:

This season, UCLA has struggled to replace Looney, who was claimed by the Golden State Warriors in last year's draft. In the Bruins' system, the power forward is crucial. He must be able to run the pick and roll effectively, rebound and spark the transition game.

Until recently, UCLA tried to fill that role with two big men, forward Tony Parker and center Thomas Welsh. But it made the Bruins slow.

When Bolden is sharp, the Bruins are dynamic. "He opens up the floor for us," guard Aaron Holiday said.

There are so many problems with this.  First off we beat Arizona last time going big and big.  The benched Tony Parker was a big reason why, scoring 14 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.  Parker is a good match up against Arizona.

One of the reasons why Parker is a good match up is Arizona is not a "fast" team.  We don't need Bolden's speed as much against a team like Arizona.  Steve Alford needs to be flexible and take advantage of what works best against a good home team like Arizona.

Second problem is Bolden is not great in the pick and pop or roll game.  He is not Travis Wear (awesome at it).  Second he is not Kevon Looney who developed into a legitimate stretch four with the ability to drain the open three.  Really Parker is a better option against Arizona.

There is a caveat.  Bolden is a better ball handler and will let us play "faster".  There is an argument that we want to run with Arizona (unlike many PAC 12 teams) because it gives them less time to set up their very good defense.  A defense that has improved since UCLA beat Arizona.

"That was a long time ago," Arizona coach Sean Miller said, referring to the Jan.7 loss. "We're a better defensive team right now than we were then. Although I don't think we're night-and-day different, we have steadily improved."

The Bruins shot 52 percent from the field that night. Alford hit 9 of 18 attempts and scored a game-high 25 points.

"We had a lot of breakdowns that game that were self-inflicted, defensively," Miller said.

That Arizona has made a leap on defense doesn't bode well for UCLA, which has struggled offensively since making lineup changes intended to boost its own defensive effort.

Does UCLA need the speed and better defense of Bolden?  Does Bolden give UCLA a better chance against Arizona?  The best answer might be to go with Parker and Bolden more.  Trying to run and then go inside to Parker if that fails.

More likely Bolden will be stretch four and Parker and Welsh will not play together.  I think UCLA would have better chance playing some big-big but I have a feeling it will be Bolden/GG at the four with Welsh/Parker at the five while Bryce has another typical for him bad shooting night on the road.

I hope I am wrong.  Bolden certainly has the potential to be something great.   However as long as Steve Alford has Bolden jacking up threes and staying outside, I am not sure that potential will be reached.

Go Bruins, beat the Wildcats!