There are just five games remaining in the regular season for the UCLA Bruins and, in his weekly press conference, Steve Alford was at it again. Yeah, the same guy who gave us such gems earlier this year like “I don’t know what you want me to say” and “They don’t let me on the court” gave us another great quote this week.
In response to a question about the Montana game not being rescheduled, Alford said:
[A] month and a half ago I wanted to do that, but I think they’re 13-0 and, so, I don’t want any part of it now, but I wish we could have made that up. But it just didn’t work either one of our schedules to get that made up unfortunately. But, you know, because we, you know, you never know but you could be sitting here you could be sitting with one more win but you could be sitting with one more loss. So, you just don’t know how that’s going to affect but they have gone on and had a really good year and I like where we’re at....
Wait a minute. What did Alford say?
He said that the good part of not making up a game against Montana is that you could end up with another loss? And, he likes where UCLA is at?
If I didn’t hear that myself watching the press conference video, I might have thought that Snoop Dogg is now hanging around the Mo Ostin Center or that Alford is stopping at a pot dispensary in the Valley on his drive from his home in Calabasas to work in Westwood.
What coach in his right mind, never mind the current caretaker of Coach’s program, is happy having his team on the bubble at this point in the season, especially considering that he’s got two home games this weekend against teams that beat his team last month on the road and the final three games of the regular season are sure to be three of the toughest games of the season?
For all our Trogan readers out there, the correct answer is no coach in his right mind wants to be on the bubble with five games left in the regular season.
Yet, despite that, Steve Alford is “likes” where his team is at. And we wonder why his teams don’t make it to the Elite Eight?
Let’s look at tonight’s opponent.
The Bruins will face Oregon State tonight. Since the Beavers beat UCLA in Corvallis on January 18th, Oregon State has gone 2-4. In fact, they lost the next four games after beating UCLA to Southern Cal, Oregon, Stanford and UC Berkeley. They broke their losing streak last weekend when they beat both Washington and Washington State at home.
Washington State was a given. They are the worst team in the conference with a 1-11 record. The Beavers did require double overtime to take down the Huskies, but they won.
The question is “Will UCLA get caught looking past the Beavers to Saturday’s matchup against the Ducks?” It’s possible, but I won’t be surprised if this ends up being the game the Bruins win this weekend.
Much like UCLA, the Beavers have tinkered (or is it Tinkled) with their lineup a little since the teams met back in January. Senior guard Seth Berger now looks to be the first guy off the bench and, in his place, Wayne Tinkle is starting freshman forward Alfred Hollins. Hollins is averaging 5.0 ppg, which is slightly better than Berger’s 3.5 ppg.
But the team’s other four starters remain Stephen Thompson Jr., Ethan Thompson, Tres Tinkle and Drew Eubanks. As such, the key to a Bruin win remains the same. UCLA needs to stop Tinkle down low and Stephen Thompson, Jr. up top.
Last time, the Bruins had a hard time doing that as Tinkle scored 16 to lead OSU and Thompson, Jr. and Eubanks each added 12.
And, so it comes down to defense and which Bruin team shows up.
Will there be a sense of urgency by a team that’s on the bubble? Or, like their coach, will UCLA be happy with where they’re at and drop another game to an inferior opponent?