This is going to be one of the most memorable years in UCLA basketball history for...wait for it...opponents’ names. Tonight, we open the season playing against the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons.
That’s fun. And this game might be fun too. The Mastodons have eight new players. So, they will be just as new to each other as teammates as UCLA. This also means player reviews are less meaningful then team style.
But the fun part is this is a team that wants to play fast. The Mastodons were #19 in the country in Adjusted Tempo by KemPom. This means they played fast. They were #218 on Adjusted Defense which means they didn’t play defense. Fast and no Defense. That sounds good for the UCLA Bruins.
On the bad side for UCLA, they shot the 21st most three-point attempts a game. The Mastodons were also twenty-first in steals. So, could they turn us over and hit a lot of three-pointers? A magical game that could lead to win? I doubt it
The Mastodons’ best returning player is 6’5” redshirt senior John Konchar. Last season, Konchar was the team’s leading rebounder with 8 per game while hitting 38% of his threes and making the second most on the team. He is the leading returning scorer who also led them in assists and steals. He was ninth in country in steals. Overall, he is an impressive player who had good games against teams like Indiana. But he is 6’5”. I’m not sure that leads to 8 rebounds against UCLA.
UCLA should dominate inside and it will be interesting to watch how they do against a fast team that goes after turnovers.
It should be a “fun” game and an easy win, but it might also be a sloppy one.