Nov 16, 2012, 11:38 PM EST
I had UCLA ranked 25th in the preseason.
That was well below where everyone else had them.
The pieces didn’t fit for the Bruins. Their point guard play was reliant up a 6-foot-9 freshman, Kyle Anderson, nicknamed ‘slo-mo’ and a guy that flamed out at North Carolina, Larry Drew II, in about as epic a fashion as you’ll see. Their roster makeup included a lot of freshmen, a couple of overweight big men, a lack of perimeter shooting and no where near the kind of defensive ability we’re used to seeing with a Ben Howland team.
But most importantly, Shabazz Muhammad was dealing with eligibility issues. There was no indication, at the time, of when — or if — he’d ever be allowed to play college basketball.
Well, now we know the answer to that: he’ll be in the lineup on Monday against Georgetown.
And that means that UCLA’s potential this season skyrocketed.
The biggest concern I had with Shabazz’s return is that sitting out ten games would mean that his return to the lineup could cause issues with the rotation, with understanding of roles, with minutes that wings play. And his return could still cause those problems, but tendencies that are built up over three games are much easier to break than habits developed over a third of the season.
The bottom line is this: Muhammad is a top five pick. He’s not a pure scorer at this point in his career, but he’s tough, incredibly athletic and as competitive as anyone in the country. They are different players, but imagine the impact that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had on Kentucky last season. That’s how big of a deal Friday’s ruling by the NCAA is.
What this ruling doesn’t change, however, are the other underlying issues: roster makeup, Josh Smith‘s weight problems, perimeter shooting.
But the infusion of talent will make it easier for UCLA to overcome those issues.
So is UCLA still the 25th best team in the country?
I’ll tell you on Wednesday morning, after the Legends Classic.
Dec 12, 2013, 11:09 PM EST
While Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon’s decision to start junior guard/forward Dez Wells at point guard when the season began was made due in part to the fact that Wells was Maryland’s best playmaker, the decision may have done more harm than good in the early going. For some point guards understanding the balance between…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:58 PM EST
In his three-plus seasons at LIU-Brooklyn, senior point guard Jason Brickman has been one of the more productive point guards in the country. With a career average of 8.6 points per game the San Antonio native isn’t a prolific scorer, but when it comes to setting up his teammates Brickman’s been sensational. On Thursday night…
Dec 12, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
With the graduation of Rotnei Clarke and the season-ending injury suffered by Roosevelt Jones before the season even began, the Butler Bulldogs found themselves with some serious adjustments to make in their first season as a member of the Big East. One player asked to step up under first-year head coach Brandon Miller has been…
Dec 12, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
Now that we’re a month into the college basketball season, it’s a good time to take a look at the impact that the new points of emphasis regarding contact have had on the sport. Of course there have been some foul-fests due to the combination of players and officials working to adjust to the rules…
Dec 12, 2013, 5:18 PM EST
With there being just six games on tonight’s schedule due to the majority of schools finishing up finals week, Thursday may qualify as one of the least active days on this season’s college basketball schedule. But that doesn’t mean there are no games of importance, as Maryland visits Boston College in the ACC opener for…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
Boston College: For my money, Boston College has been the most disappointing team in the country this season. The Eagles have the talent to be a factor in the NCAA tournament discussion with Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson surrounded by a solid group of role players. But they aren’t tough enough and they don’t defend.…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:07 PM EST
Another day, another update on just how beat up Michigan State is. According to Joe Rexrode of Freep.com, Matt Costello was not at practice, Gary Harris had his right ankle in a cast, Keith Appling’s wrist and hip were bothering him, and Adreian Payne’s plantar fasciitis was feeling good enough that he could practice. Those…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:54 PM EST
In a new series here on College Basketball Talk, every Friday we’re going to have a discussion about some of the hot topics in college basketball. The inaugural installment focuses on the ACC, the now 15-team conference that some stated was the greatest conference ever assembled before a game had been played. Now that we’ve…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:13 PM EST
Does Kentucky have an attendance issue? According to John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader, they do. Which is crazy when you think about it. Because this is the same program that brings in crowds for scrimmages and Midnight Madness that would set records at just about any other school in the country. But Clay’s got…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:31 AM EST
The former N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe has pleaded guilty to failing to file his North Carolina state tax returns for three years. According to the AP, Lowe received a suspended 45-day jail sentence, 36 months of unsupervised probation, and 100 hours of community service. He must pay more than $79,000 in back taxes plus a…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:03 AM EST
John Henson does not appear to be a fan of the NCAA. He’s in the NBA now, making millions as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, which makes it seem like a strange time to lash out like this until you consider the plight of his former teammates, P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald. North Carolina’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:57 AM EST
On Thursday morning, the Cincinnati basketball team released a statement announcing that redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Davis will be transferring out of the program at the semester break. Davis’ family was struck with tragedy when their home was ravaged by a fire last month, and he made the decision to leave the Bearcats for a program…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:55 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Dakota State 73, Notre Dame 69 Marshal Bjorklund went for 26 points to lead North Dakota State to an upset win over Notre Dame on the Joyce Center on Wednesday night. It’s the second time that the Irish have lost at home this season, and that fact has Raphielle Johnson…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:21 AM EST
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson threw down this nastiness on New Mexico State on Wednesday night. Hollis-Jefferson is starting to emerge as one of the best players on this Arizona team. He’s versatile, he’s aggressive, he plays hard and he defends. He’s an athletic, ego-free baller, which is exactly the kind of piece that championship team have. He’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:12 AM EST
Last season Arizona forward Brandon Ashley was part of a trio of freshmen who arrived in Tucson amidst much fanfare. Joined by Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski, the McDonald’s All-American was expected to hit the ground running in his debut campaign. While that didn’t happen Ashley was a productive member of a team that reached…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:40 PM EST
With the preseason favorites to win the Summit League visiting South Bend, tonight’s game against North Dakota State was no gimme for Notre Dame. And that’s exactly how it played out, as Marshall Bjorklund and his experienced teammates proved to be too much for the Fighting Irish to handle. Bjorklund scored 26 points on 11-for-14…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
With some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics attending IMG’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York City, many of the major issues on the table were discussed. Among those issues were the possibility of giving scholarship athletes stipend to help cover the full cost of attendance, and how the NCAA members with the most…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:17 PM EST
When he committed to UNLV during the summer, forward Jamal Aytes had the look of a player capable of helping the Runnin’ Rebels account for the loss of reserve Savon Goodman, whose off-court issues resulted in his leaving the program. But that didn’t turn out to be the case, as in seven games Aytes saw…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:05 PM EST
Under first-year head coach Ray Giacoletti the Drake Bulldogs are off to a surprising 6-2 start to the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs maintaining that start became more difficult, as the school announced on Wednesday that senior guard Gary Ricks Jr. will miss the remainder of the season after fracturing a bone in his…
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