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What’s Bruin: Sports Illustrated Goes Behind the Scenes with UCLA Basketball

News and notes from around the UCLA-iverse.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Men’s Basketball

On newsstands now, Lee Jenkins spent a week with the UCLA basketball team and their prized trio of freshman for a feature story for Sports Illustrated.

SI spent last week with No. 3 UCLA and its new souped-up scoring machine, a high-octane apparatus that regularly cracks triple digits, applauds 30-foot shots and encourages four-second possessions while rejecting stilted sets and ball screens. Film sessions are spliced with Warriors highlights, staff meetings include Sasquatch sightings, and a hard drive named Dirk may need more room. "Put on your seat belt," coach Steve Alford instructs his assistants.

The Bruins move fast.

Jenkins' time with the team began during the week as the players watched the Clemson-Alabama national championship game (well, Thomas Welsh just watched a movie) and lasted through the road trip to the Mountain Schools.

Leaf forces an off-balance three by Utah’s Kyle Kuzma—"Like a Chargers defensive back," Alford tells the San Diego native—and Welsh cradles the rebound. The team that does nothing but score wins with a stop, 83–82, improving to 18–1 and sweeping a Pac-12 road trip for the first time in Alford’s four years at UCLA. "Once you build a monster, you have to feed him," LaVar says. "Lonzo eats those W’s."

Read about TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball’s screenwriting class, an ominous date for Isaac Hamilton’s Winter Quarter final exam, and Tyus Edney watching tapes from the 1995 season—and drawing some comparisons with this team.

Ball was not alive for Edney’s full-court dash in the second round of the 1995 NCAA tournament against Missouri, but early this season he put 4.8 seconds on the clock at Pauley and took off. He made one cut, same as Edney, and beat the buzzer, same as Edney. He sprinted triumphantly to the locker room.

This is a must read for Bruin fans.

In the LA Times, Ben Bolch breaks down the numbers behind UCLA’s "Showtime" offense, and spends time with new UCLA analytics guru, one Kory Alford.

UCLA Coach Steve Alford was unequivocal in his desire for his team to take more three-pointers this season, in part because his roster featured seven rotation players who could make shots from long range. Another reason was Kory Alford’s chart showing how the Bruins had lagged behind the NCAA average for the percentage of three-point shots in recent seasons while also allowing their opponents to take too many three-pointers.

Those numbers have flipped this season, with UCLA taking 39.0% of its shots from three-point range while allowing opponents to take 33.0% of their shots from beyond the arc. The NCAA average is 36.2%


In his College Hotline column, Jon Wilner analyzes the Pac-12 schedules, both on the whole for the conference, and some thoughts for each team.

UCLA: The Bruins are the unfortunate winner of the toughest (on paper) back-to-back assignment in the conference: Visit Seattle on a Saturday, then head to Salt Lake City the following Friday — a late season, road double whammy with the potential for both to be bad-weather games. Add Texas A&M, improving Hawaii and a trip to Memphis, and the schedule alone will make a rebound season difficult.

Women’s Basketball

The women’s basketball team defeated our crosstown rivals last night by a score of 74-59.

Men’s Volleyball

The #2-ranked men’s volleyball team defeated Cal Baptist Wednesday night to advance to 5-1 on the season, and 2-0 in MPSF play.

And here is your week in rankings: