Skip to content

UCLA has a lot to learn if they are going to be a contender in the Pac-12

Dec 20, 2013, 2:35 AM EDT

source:

NEW YORK — UCLA will be worth the watch every time they take the floor this season.

That’s just what happens when you have as much talent as the Bruins do.

Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are both going to find themselves in the conversation for being all-americans and first round draft picks by the time the season ends. Whether they will be or not is something that will be determined by how they play and develop, both individually and within the team, over the course of the next four months. But at this point, it’s obvious that their names will be thrown into the mix. That’s just what happens when oneguy averaging more than 20 points and another guy approaches a triple-double on a nightly basis.

And here’s the craziest part: neither Anderson and Adams is the most talented player on the UCLA roster. That title would belong to Zach LaVine, an uber-athletic freshmen that entered Thursday night averaging 13.8 points and shooting 46.5% from three.

Throw the Wear twins, Bryce Alford and Norman Powell into the mix, and this is a group that will run the floor and score a lot of points this season.

Like I said, they’ll be worth the watch every time they take the floor.

But that doesn’t mean that they are going to be able to beat a lot of good teams.

The bottom line is this: The Bruins are a team that has to be able to score in transition to be able to win. They need games to be a track meet to be able to compete, and good teams will be able to slow them down.

The saying goes, it’s easier to slow a game down than it is to speed a game up, and there’s a reason that saying exists. Generally speaking, good basketball teams can do two things well: execute in the half court and defend. The two most effective ways at slowing the pace of a game down? Scoring, which forces teams to take the ball out of bounds instead of running off of a rebound or a turnover, and playing stout defense.

And at this point, when that happens to the Bruins, they struggle. Missouri did it two weeks ago, which is why UCLA was dominated in the second half by the Tigers, and Duke did it on Thursday.

“When pace is taken away, when transition games are taken away by good defensive teams, you’ve got to execute in the half court,” head coach Steve Alford said. “We’ve got to do a better job with that.”

To their credit, this is a young team, one that has a lot of guys learning new roles. Anderson just played his 11th game as a point guard. Tony Parker played less than five minutes per game last season. LaVine is a freshman, as is Alford. Adams is a sophomore coming off of a broken foot. Even Powell is playing more significant minutes than he ever has.

This team will get better with time.

But right now, they aren’t a top 25 team. They are probably a borderline NCAA tournament team considering the only two good teams they’ve played they lost to. UCLA has work to do in Pac-12 play, and they have work to do in practice before they get there.

The Bruins are probably never going to be a good defensive team, which is why Alford is playing more zone than he’s ever played as a coach. That means they need to learn to be able to execute in the half court, and that’s not always an easy thing to do.

“Are we ready for games like this?” Alford said. “I hope we are, but I hope we’re more prepared as we get closer to the end of the season. Games like this help us. “

Latest Posts
  1. Former Marquette commits Ahmed Hill, Satchel Pierce follow Buzz Williams to Virginia Tech

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Buzz Williams AP

    Former Marquette commits Ahmed Hill and Satchel Pierce are following former Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams to Virginia Tech as the duo committed to the Hokies on Saturday morning.

  2. POSTERIZED: SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay flushes a ridiculous alley-oop during Jordan Brand Classic (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:03 AM EDT

    emmanuel-mudiay

    SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay put down the best dunk at the Jordan Brand Classic.

  3. Northern Illinois extends contract of head coach Mark Montgomery through 2017-18

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Mark Montgomery Mark Montgomery

    Northern Illinois extended the contract of head coach Mark Montgomery through the 2017-18 season.

  4. Chicago duo Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander earn MVP honors as East beats West in Jordan Brand Classic

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT

    Beach Ball Classic Basketball AP

    Chicago natives Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander earned MVP honors as the East beat the West in the Jordan Brand Classic.

  5. Report: Houston imposes transfer restrictions on Danuel House, TaShawn Thomas

    Apr 18, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT

    TaShawn Thomas AP

    Houston is allowing Danuel House and TaShawn Thomas to transfer, but only to certain programs.

  6. Indiana grabs commitment from prep school center (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    North Dakota State v Indiana Getty Images

    Indiana grabbed a commitment from a 2014 center on Friday night.

  7. Miami forward James Kelly intends to transfer

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    Jim Larranaga AP

    Miami forward James Kelly is moving on.

  8. Butler loses guard Elijah Brown to transfer and adds Indiana transfer Austin Etherington

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Brandon Miller AP

    It was a busy day for the Butler Bulldogs on Friday as freshman guard Elijah Brown intends to transfer while former Indiana wing Austin Etherington will transfer to the Big East program.

  9. Ole Miss signs Tennessee State transfer M.J. Rhett

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Ole Miss picked up a big graduate transfer on Friday when former Tennessee State forward M.J. Rhett signed with the Rebels.

  10. Sophomore center Chris Obekpa will remain at St. John’s

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

    Chris Obekpa Getty Images

    St. John’s received some big news this week as sophomore center Chris Obekpa decided to stay in New York.

  11. Kentucky freshman forward Marcus Lee will return

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT

    Marcus Lee Getty Images

    Kentucky freshman forward Marcus Lee will return to Lexington for his sophomore season.

  12. Georgia State’s Ron Hunter receives extension through 2019-20 season

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    Ron Hunter AP

    After leading Georgia State to 25 wins and a Sun Belt regular season title, Ron Hunter has been rewarded with a contract extension.

  13. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announces changes to coaching staff

    Apr 18, 2014, 3:46 PM EDT

    krzyzewski Getty Images

    With Steve Wojciechowski accepting the head coaching position at Marquette, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski announced how he would account for that departure Friday.

  14. Tulsa officially hires Frank Haith as its new head coach

    Apr 18, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    haith AP

    Tulsa has officially hired Frank Haith to be its new basketball coach.

  15. NCAA grants Arizona State’s Shaquielle McKissic extra season of eligibility

    Apr 18, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT

    Pac-12 Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals - Stanford v Arizona State Getty Images

    Arizona State announced Friday that guard Shaquielle McKissic has been granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA.

  16. Duke sophomore Rodney Hood officially entering 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 18, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT

    hood Getty Images

    Duke’s Rodney Hood made the news official Friday, announcing that he’ll be entering the 2014 NBA Draft.

  17. Family, friends celebrate life of ‘Princess Lacey’ at Breslin Center (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT

    lacey AP

    Family and friends of Lacey Holsworth gathered at the Breslin Center to celebrate her life on Thursday.

  18. Kansas to begin building home for Dr. James Naismith’s ‘Rules of Basket Ball’ May 2

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    naismith

    Kansas will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the DeBruce Center on May 2nd.

  19. NCAA council aims to change immediate eligibility waiver policy

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice Getty Images

    With the rise in graduate transfers, the NCAA is looking to change the immediate eligibility process.

  20. Former Nevada forward Cole Huff free to transfer to non-Mountain West schools in southern California

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT

    huff AP

    The number of schools that former Nevada forward Cole Huff is prohibited from transferring to has been cut down to 38 following an appeals hearing Thursday.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'