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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: Steve Alford Says “This Was Good for Us”!?!

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The Bruins were destroyed by Michigan State 87-67

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at UCLA
Moses struggled against Nick Ward
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This News Roundup is about Steve Alford and how UCLA basketball plays as a team. It is not going to focus on the UCLA Bruins players. Although we’ll let’s start with a quote from one FORMER player.

No Bryce, that was not the issue. As the greatest Coach of all time said:

”I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.”

This team is very talented. Lansing, Michigan columnist Graham Couch reports that the NBA Scouts were at the game in droves. What they saw was:

The contrast between MSU and UCLA was severe.

Nick Ward abused 7-1 UCLA freshman Moses Brown on the break and, with savvy, underneath the basket. MSU’s backcourt of Winston and Joshua Langford controlled the game. And Kenny Goins showed that a senior former walk-on is sometimes more valuable than a gifted youngster. Goins had 13 rebounds in 20 minutes, including seven in eight minutes in the decisive first half.

“You could definitely tell how young they were. You could see it in the arguing and stuff amongst themselves on the court,” Goins said. “You could see it even on film when we watched it, it was one-on-one team.

Goins is probably the best example of everything wrong. First, this is a former walk-on who abused UCLA’s much more talented players. But re-read his quote. UCLA players were arguing with themselves. Yeah, age and experience is an easy tagline, but reality is this was talent versus coaching. Individuals versus a team.

The Detroit Free Press adds:

Tom Izzo spent the week worrying about UCLA’s size.

The Bruins didn’t spend enough time worrying about Michigan State’s outside shooting.

The 11th-ranked Spartans hit 10 first-half 3-pointers and built as much as a 29-point lead by halftime. They coasted to an 87-67 victory over No. 17 UCLA in the opening night of the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena on Thursday.

Unfortunately, this is one time where I can’t find Steve Alford’s press conference and the two print UCLA beat writers had different takes on the debacle. First, it was the expected Steve Alford take via Thuc Nhi Nguyen at the Daily News:

The Michigan State guard drained a 3 in transition right in front of the UCLA bench, and head coach Steve Alford, inches behind the spot where Langford pulled up, raised his arms behind his head with his elbows pointed to the side in a pose known on the internet as “surrender cobra.” . . . .

“Young players, sometimes when they feel that heat they just want to do it on their own and you can’t do that, you’ve got to trust the system, trust the players, who you’re playing with,” Alford said. “It’s a system about moving the ball. Our offense is about moving the ball and when you move it, it’s pretty. When you don’t move it, it’s not very pretty.”

Or more specifically on Moses Brown:

“That’s the first time Mo has had to play against a grown man,” Alford said.

I expected Alford to use the youth excuse. But, Ben Bolch has an amazing quote and take in his story entitled: UCLA is buried in the first half by No. 11 Michigan State, but Alford says, ‘This was good for us.’

The issues included lackluster perimeter defense, no semblance of a competent offense and more selfish play. UCLA had withstood each of the problems against lesser teams but had no chance when they reappeared against a tough, veteran team like the Spartans.

“To me, this was good for us,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We don’t like getting beat, but our guys needed to see kind of what we’ve been telling them when you play a team like this versus teams that we’re going to beat just because of talent. We got smacked in the face today and now we’ll see how we respond moving forward.”

It might be good for UCLA long-term. Dan Guerrero and the people he listens to might be sick of being embarrassed on national TV and fire Alford. Sigh.


Go Bruins.