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Southern California guard Jordan McLaughlin (11) battles UCLA forward Tony Parker (23) as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Southern California guard Jordan McLaughlin (11) battles UCLA forward Tony Parker (23) as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas) Photo courtesy of wtop.com

 

WHERE THE COLLEGIATE BASKETBALL TEAMS CALLING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HOME STAND AS THE SEASON GETS UNDERWAY THIS WEEK, PARTICULARLY UCLA AND USC.

There are no less than twenty college basketball teams in the Los Angeles area, ten men’s and ten women’s.

Since that’s the case, our by-the-numbers will feature the major programs, UCLA’s Bruins and USC’s Trojans, though the other squads will get a mention:

UCLA BRUINS BASKETBALL 2016-17

Men’s Record in 2015-16: 15-17, 6-12 and tenth place in the Pac-12 Conference

Coach: Steve Alford, 4th season, 64-37 overall

Notable Players:

Bryce Alford, 6’3″ Sr. G

Issac Hamilton, 6’5″ Sr. G

Thomas Welsh, 7’0″ Jr. C

Lonzo Ball, 6’6″ Fr. G

T.J. Leaf, 6’10” Fr. F

Women’s Record in 2015-16: 26-9, 14-4 and third place in the Pac-12 Conference

Lost to Oregon State 69-57 in the Pac-12 Tournament Final

Reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, losing to Texas 72-64

Coach: Cori Close, 6th season, 98-69 overall

Notable Players:

Kari Korver, 5’9″ Sr. G

Jordin Canada, 5’6″ Jr. G

Monique Billings, 6’4″ Jr. F

First Game For Both Teams: Friday, November 11th vs Pacific in Pauley Pavilion

 

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The Bruins’ Nirra Fields and Monique Billings boxing out USC’s Tami Faginbele during one of their two clashes. Photo courtesy of gojoebruin.com

 

USC TROJANS BASKETBALL 2016-17

Men’s Record in 2015-16: 21-13, 9-9 and sixth place in the Pac-12 Conference

Lost to Providence in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 70-69

Coach: Andy Enfield, 4th season, 44-54 overall

Notable Players:

Jordan McLaughlin, 6’1″ Jr. G

Elijah Stewart, 6’5″ Jr G

Bennie Boatwright, 6’10” So. F

 

The first of three wins for USC over UCLA last season: A 89-75 Trojan romp the Bruins. Video courtesy of YouTube.

 

Women’s Record in 2015-16: 19-13, 6-12 and eighth place in the Pac-12 Conference

Coach: Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, 4th season, 56-41 overall

Notable Players:

Jordan Adams, 6’1″ Sr. G

Kristen Simon, 6’2″ Jr. F

Courtney Jaco, 5’8″ Sr. G

First Games:

Men – Friday, November 11th vs Montana at the Galen Center

Women – Friday, November 11th vs Hawaii at the Galen Center

 

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Driving down the court during another Crosstown Clash at the Galen Center. Photo courtesy of chatsports.com

 

THE REST OF SOCAL’S COLLEGE TEAMS (including notable women’s teams)

BIG WEST CONFERENCE TEAMS (2015-16 Records):

UC Irvine: 25-9, 13-3 in the conference

Long Beach State: 20-14, 12-4

Long Beach State (women): 24-8, 12-4

UC Santa Barbara: 18-13, 11-5

UC Riverside: 14-19, 5-11

UC Riverside (women): 23-8, 16-0 and Big West Conference Regular Season Champions

Cal State Northridge: 10-20, 5-11

Cal State Fullerton: 10-20, 3-13

 

WEST COAST CONFERENCE TEAMS (2015-16 Records):

Pepperdine: 18-13, 10-8 in the conference

Loyola Marymount: 14-17, 6-12

 

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UCLA’s Bryce Alford on a fast break at USC’s Galen Center. Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

 

SOME THOUGHTS:

My prevailing thought regarding college basketball this season has to do with my alma mater and the fact that the top three reasons why Steve Alford is not the former UCLA basketball coach are:

  1. Lonzo Ball
  2. T.J. Leaf, and…
  3. Ike Anigbogu

Those three freshman make up a class that was in everyone’s top five in the nation and ranked as high as third, and as Ball and Leaf are slated to start (with Anigbogu injured but expected to play in December),

They are expected to bring the Bruins back from their pathetic showing last year, particularly at the end when they were pushed all over the paint.

Because if they don’t, as I stated in my end of season analysis of this team back in March I will gladly join the “Fire Alford” forces as he is the epitome of a coach on the hot seat.

As for what’s up at the Galen Center, everyone was looking for USC to remain on the rise after making the NCAA Tournament and embarrassing their crosstown rival Bruins in a three game sweep.

That is, until two of the main reasons for their resurgence, Julian Jacobs and Nikola Jovanovic, went pro.

While I’m not saying that the Trojans are in trouble as another big reason for the Trojans’ return to relevance, Jordan McLaughlin, is back and will clearly be the team’s leader, it’s safe to say that people will not be as high on USC as they were last spring, because losing Jacobs and Jovanovic hurt.

Actually, it’s my strong opinion that the best college hoops team in this region last year didn’t have a single male on it.

 

A big highlight for UCLA’s women’s hoops last year: Beating USC’s Women of Troy 78-73 at Pauley Pavilion. Video courtesy of YouTube

 

UCLA’s women finished quite strong in making the finals of the Pac-12 Tournament and reaching the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tourney; everyone, including me, is expecting more of the same from those Bruins this year as coach Cori Close has done a brilliant job in her six years in Westwood.

The pundits apparently think similarly as they have picked UCLA to win the conference.

As for the eight mid-major teams in both genders, I’m reminded of what Forrest Gump said about life being like a box of chocolates: “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The bulk of attention will be at UCLA and whether Alford and his “Diaper Dandies”, as ESPN’s Dick Vitale would call them, can resurrect the Bruins and, to paraphrase Donald Trump’s slogan…

“Make UCLA Basketball Great Again”

I’ll certainly be watching to see if they can do just that as they embark on the quest to earn back my trust.

 

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A Bruin trying to drive on a Trojan during a Crosstown Rivalry game at Pauley Pavilion. Photo courtesy of gettyiages.com

 

 

 

 

 

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