While some of the headlines went to Isaac Hamilton for a great first half in the blowout win over Colorado, the key was a change in the starting lineup and an assist by Thomas Welsh. As the Orange County Register says in a non-Isaac headline: Tony Parker gives UCLA an early boost, sparks rout of Colorado:
[The first lineup change of Bolden at 4 for Parker] had that desired effect on defense, but maybe less so on offense. In the five games with Bolden in the starting five, UCLA averaged 74 points per game. Before that, it was up at 80.
The latest change came Saturday night, as the Bruins faced Colorado at Pauley Pavilion.
Parker started instead of sophomore Thomas Welsh. While Bolden's length would buoy the defense, the return of the 6-foot-9 Parker, the team's third-leading scorer could offer additional help on the offensive end of the floor.
It did early - almost right away.
Less than a minute in, Parker offered a jolt. He caught a fastbreak pass near the low block from Bryce Alford and laid it in for UCLA's second basket, plus a foul. The crowd of 8,492 energized, Parker turned toward a few fans sitting courtside and flexed his muscles, part of the Bruins' 8-2 run to open the game.
I actually think Parker helped on defense. Tony really eats up space. As the Intern mentions in his article this was a great defensive game:
It was UCLA's second-largest margin of victory in conference play this season and its second-best defensive performance.
But its defense did not allow Colorado (19-9, 8-7) any opportunities. During the Bruins' slump, the Buffaloes, too, missed 10 shots in a row. The teams went 5 minutes 28 seconds without a basket.
"Defensively, it was as good as we've been in a long time," Steve Alford said.
Gee, good defense can let you survive an offensive lull? Who knew? (Sarcasm font off.)
UCLA did the better D with their traditional formula under Alford, take away the inside, let the opponent try to beat you from the outside.
Playing predominantly zone defense and packing the paint, the Bruins took away Colorado's inside game, holding the Buffaloes to a season-low 31-percent shooting. Colorado was 3 of 17 from inside the arc in the first half and 10 of 36 for the game.
We talked as a staff to possibly put Tony in the lineup to ignite us, and they went to go talk to Tom. And Tom interrupted them and said ‘I came to you guys today because I think it is a good idea to put Tony in the starting lineup.' That is who Tom Welsh is. He is a team guy, and you wish you had 15 of those guys. He is quality, not just as a player, but as a young man. For him to do that when he is playing as well as he is playing speaks volumes of who he is. It was something we were thinking about, but obviously Tom was thinking about it as well.
Or, as Tony Parker said:
on any conversation between him and Thomas Welsh prior to the game
Tom just told me (in Tom's voice) "I think it will be better for you to start, to get you going." That is the way Tom speaks. He is like my brother, but it was like a regular game."
Regardless of what you think of the coaches, you have to love Bruin players such as Thomas Welsh. Thanks, Tom.