UCLA Bruins Basketball Preview: Steve Alford’s UCLA

Can we just have a moment of silence – for ourselves of course – because we don’t get to watch Slo-Mo and Jordan Adams anymore? I’m gonna. [pause. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.]. Thanks.

And now, what’s left in Westwood that wasn’t drafted in the first round, I know nothing about. Steve’s kid (it’s Kory pictured above) is still here and Norman Powell returns and I’m very familiar with the name Tony Parker. I just have no idea what this version of TP is going to do on a nightly basis. Steve said that Tony needs to get pissed off. To pile on, there’s only nine of these guys on scholarship. Projected-to-contributes Jonah Bolden (PF, #25 2014 per Scout) and Jon Octeus (PG, 110 Ortg/22% poss, 13/5/2) were deemed academically ineligible; Bolden can stick around the program and practice but Octeus just wasn’t let into the school. UC schools have really tough standards and only let the best-of-the-best into their establishments. I know from experience (#GoTritons). But of the remaining nine on schollie, there’s reason for optimism. It’s a brand new roster of unproven talent (as noted, we know nothing about them). This is now officially Steve Alford’s UCLA.

Why I Love Them:

They’re talented. Or at least on paper. The recruiting class still includes Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh so there’s going to be size and we’ve at least seen glimpses of Parker dominating. With Looney and Welsh, there’s at least some low-block back up (Wear knock). Norman Powell attacks (nearly 60% of his shots came at the rim) and Bryce Alford can stroke (39% from deep). They’re obviously going to be young but perhaps dumb enough to know that maybe it doesn’t matter.

Why I Hate Them:

Last year Steve could rely on the fact that he had proven talent. They wound up being first-round picks. Three of ‘em. Insane. And he rode that talent to the fastest team he’s ever coached (by tempo). Whatever you think of the Alford hire, he got there by developing a distinct style. His previously successful campaigns usually involved slower games and better defense. He deviated from what he was an expert at. Last season we could applaud it. Things worked out. But he no longer has veterans. This team is good but it’s a sleeves up and time to really coach sort of gig. I have concerns about their guard play. I’m also not yet sold on Tony Parker and I really think Thomas Welsh is a year or two away. Alford received a full cupboard, a somewhat tailor made situation for a Sweet Sixteen run. This is the first time we’re really going to start seeing what a Steve Alford UCLA program looks like. I maybe don’t hate that, but I’ll most certainly be paying attention.

The Stat You Must Know:

OrtG Assist Rate 3FG% %Min %Poss
107.3 12.6 37.50% 60.7 19.1
109.7 19.1 38.50% 57.4 18.4

Who’s who in this blind taste test? If you guessed that the two participants were Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford, then you guessed correctly! Two points Griffendor! And if you guessed that he of the better Assist Rate and Offensive Rating was…Bryce…then you also guessed correctly! What do you win? Well, it would seem you win a season of Bryce at the helm of your offense and an alienation of Zach LaVine. He’s off to paychecks in Minne. And how does he feel about it?


Top 5 Giants Pitchers Since I moved to San Francisco Conveniently in 2010:

  1. Madison Bumgarner
  2. Tim Lincecum
  3. Matt Cain
  4. Brian Wilson
  5. Sergio Romo

Mountain High (best possible season):

It works! Ain’t no Hoosier Loser here. Daddy ball? More like playing-like-my-Dad-who-was-really-good-at-ball ball. We really start to pay attention when UCLA knocks off Kentucky in Chicago with Tony Parker stealing the show from all that UK size. Norman Powell bullies the Harrisons. And then the Pac-12. He proves he’s not just a sidekick to Jordan and Kyle. Alpha-Powell. Bryce holds down the point and Isaac Hamilton just does what five-star recruits do. They earn a five-seed in the NCAA tournament and achieve their second consecutive Sweet Sixteen. Hoosier Loser? Westwood Winner. Everyone loves alliteration. THIS IS STEVE ALFORD’S UCLA!

Rock Bottom (worst possible season):

It doesn’t work. The guards really do struggle and we realize that Kyle Anderson was even better than we ever imagined. Tony Parker is pretty much the Tony Parker we’ve seen for two years now. Alford struggles to hone in on a system and the Bruins look discombobulated. They’re talented, no doubt, but not cohesive enough to maximize. They flirt with the bubble all year long and ultimately – in what’s a down Pac – don’t have enough quality wins to dance. This is Steve Alford’s UCLA?

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