While UCLA Bruins Basketball has become, at times, painful to watch, there are those of us that still hang in there and wait for a miracle. Yes, I know, I’ll probably find a leprechaun walking a unicorn before this team looks good, but the Bruin faithful might still be watching with at lease one eye open.
UC Berkeley comes to Pauley Pavilion tomorrow night ranked 11th in the Pac-12. They have exactly one conference win. If we’re going to break a losing streak, I think we’ve found the team to help us do it. But to be honest, it’ll probably look pretty ugly and might be the longest forty minutes of basketball you’ve watched all year.
The Bears’ shooting is some of the worst I’ve seen—their top starter is shooting 58%, but most of their line up is shooting in the mid-40% range and lower. The Bears’ free throw shooting, is mostly in the mid-60%, and I always look at this stat because so many games come down to who can capitalize on shooting from the foul line. You never want to give away free points, and I feel like this is something teams often forget. It’s a skill that elite teams have in the bag. Our shooting is better, but if you ask me, still not good enough.
Both teams are going into this game on a losing streak, the Bruins having lost three and the Bears six. The only team Berkeley has beaten in league play this season is Stanford. The last time UCLA and Berkeley met, UCLA scored a season high total and dismantled the Bears 107-84.
Junior guard Don Coleman is Berkeley’s top scorer, averaging 16.9 points per game, but he’s only shooting 27% from outside the arc. Two of their starters, Marcus Lee and Kingsley Okoroh, actually have no three pointers at all this year.
Going through Kenpom actually gave me a headache because I had to look so far down the list to find Berkeley—they’re way down the list at #222, below all of the Pac-12 and frankly, most of the Big West as well. Their defense is ranked #324 in the country, with their opponents putting up and average of 80.3 points per game (don’t get too excited—UCLA comes in at #284). The one spike in their stats is blocked shots per game—they are actually second in the Pac 12 behind Washington, averaging 5.3.
More than anything, I’ve come to believe that basketball is largely a game of numbers. On paper, this should be an easy one. We’re at home, Berkeley is clearly the inferior team, and I’m guessing this team would like to actually make the tournament or at least be on the bubble. Stranger things have happened, but I think we’ll see an end to the Bruins’ losing streak tomorrow.