Team Preview: 2014 UCLA Bruins
By: Brian MacIver
2012-2013 Finish: 25-10 (13-5 in PAC-12)
Coach: Steve Alford 8-1 at UCLA (468-235 overall)
No other university in the history of the NCAA has more national championships than the UCLA Bruins. But that has become a thing of the past, with UCLA’s last appearance in the championship game dating back to the 2005-2006 season and their last win in 1994-1995. Add to that the fact that they haven’t made it past the second bracket in the last five years (missing the tournament completely two of those years), and you’ve got a case to reference the fall of Rome. But with a new hall of fame and former Hoosier head coach in Steve Alford, the Bruins may be on the road to right the ship.
Strongside: The Bruins great ball movement is what makes them the eighth highest-scoring offense in the country. Led by guard/forward Kyle Anderson (sixth in NCAA in APG), the Bruins have been tiring out their opponents and running up the score. Look no further than their last win against UC Santa Barbara. UCSB was leading the Bruins, but after one half of play consisting mainly of running around trying to cover the consistently open man in the corner, the Gauchos were gassed in the second half.
The Bruins can pass and shoot, but they also have one of the most underrated centers in the NCAA ready to have a breakout year in sophomore Tony Parker. Look for him to have a bigger and bigger impact in the Bruins’ game plan as the year goes on.
Weakside: Defensively, UCLA does not look too good, especially when it comes to defensive rebounding. In their last game, an 80-71 loss to the undefeated Missouri Tigers, Mizzou had just one fewer offensive rebound than the Bruins had defensive rebounds (17 for Mizzou, 18 for UCLA). This may be due to the fact that apart from Parker, UCLA is a bit small in the post. Even Parker may be a bit undersized for the post position at 6’9”, 255 pounds. Teams that are bigger in the paint tend to get more rebounds, and UCLA will have difficulty matching up against those types of teams.
All Told: The Bruins won’t be adding to their record 11 national championships this year, that’s for sure. You can, however, make a bet that they will make it past the second round in the bracket with their powerhouse offense, but defense (or lack thereof) will be their downfall. Defense is all about heart, and I get a feeling that these guys care more about putting up points than fighting for ball control.
After a short, lackluster career in sports, Brian MacIver turned to what all bitter, below average high school athletes turn to: sports writing. He’s been at it for the past seven years, met some great people, written some really bad articles, but has been having a blast since day one. You can follow me on Twitter @TheBrianMacIver for some sporadic moments of wittiness or to share vital information to find buried treasure (please, serious leads only…).