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Bruins having some fun during their win over Ohio State. Photo courtesy of crypticimages.com

 

UCLA BRUINS MEN’S BASKETBALL

Final Record:  31-5 overall, 13-3 and 3rd place in the Pac-12 Conference

* Lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, 86-75

Biggest Wins:

* At Kentucky, 97-92, on December 3rd

* vs USC, 102-70, on February 18th

* At Arizona, 77-72, on February 25th

Key Players:

T.J. Leaf, Fr. F – 16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg (My choice for team Co-MVP)

Bryce Alford, Sr. G – 15.5 ppg, 116 three-point field goals made

Lonzo Ball, Fr. G – 14.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 7.6 apg (My choice for team Co-MVP)

Issac Hamilton, Sr. G – 14.1 ppg

Aaron Holiday, So. G – 12.3 ppg

Thomas Welch, Jr. C – 10.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg

Seniors Gone: 3 – Alford, Hamilton, and Jerrold Smith, G

Also Gone: Ball (and possibly Leaf, who hasn’t decided)

 

The Bruins’ biggest win of 2016-17 in my view: A 77-72 triumph over Arizona in Tucson on February 25th.   (click on the link)

 

UCLA BRUINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Final Record:  25-9 overall, 13-5 and 4th place in the Pac-12 Conference

* Lost to #1 Connecticut in the Sweet 16, 86-71

Biggest Wins:

* vs Pac-12 Regular Season Champion Oregon State on January 13th, 66-56

* At current Final Four participant Stanford on February 6th, 85-76

* Currently holding a program record 29-game home winning streak

Key Players:

Jordin Canada, Jr. G – 17.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 7.1 apg (My choice for team Co-MVP)

Monique Billings, Jr. F – 16.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg (My choice for team Co-MVP)

Kennedy Burke, So. G – 12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Kari Korver, Sr. G – 8.6 ppg

Seniors Gone: 1 – Korver

 

Nov 14, 2016; Waco, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Kennedy Burke (22) and guard Jordin Canada (3) and guard Kari Korver (2) and guard Nicole Kornet (0) and forward Monique Billings (25) huddle after a time out against the Baylor Bears during a game at Ferrell Center. Baylor won 84-70. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports Photo courtesy of GoJoeBruin.com

 

Some Final Thoughts:

As far as the post season for my alma mater’s basketball teams, things happened exactly as I predicted they would; check out my NCAA Tournament predictions article http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/socal-basketball-in-the-ncaa-tournament-preview-predictions-of-the-teams-in-the-big-dance/

Which was why unlike many fellow members of Bruin Nation, I wasn’t completely devastated when UCLA’s men’s and women’s teams got ousted in the regional semifinals.

How could I when the male Bruins won 31 games while their female counterparts won 25, as roughly 98% of the Division 1 teams would have happily traded records with UCLA’s.

Face it Bruins, though there were concerns about defense (men’s) and depth (women’s), basketball was very good in Westwood in 2016-17.

So Lonzo Ball announced that he was entering the NBA draft minutes after their loss to Kentucky in Memphis; it was universally known that this would come to pass the moment he signed.

With Alford and Hamilton gone as well, that means that the Bruins will be losing 3/5 of their starters – 4/5 depending on what Leaf decides.

But that matters little as coach Steve Alford has not only committed his loyalty to Bruin Nation once and for all when he stated that he wasn’t interested in returning to coach his alma mater Indiana, (who subsequently hired some one else),

He has another top three recruiting class coming to Westwood, including Lonzo’s brother LiAngelo.

In other words, I’ll be quite surprised if UCLA back slides like they did in 2015-16.

And if Leaf decides that the NBA can wait and remains a Bruin, watch out!

 

My choice for the Lady Bruins’ biggest win this season: a 85-76 decision at now Final Four-bound Stanford on February 6th (click on the link)

 

As For The Women…

Coach Cori Close’s team REALLY needs to be given pats on the back for playing those unbeatable Wonder Women at Connecticut as tough as they did, giving those #1 and working on a now-110 game winning streak and fifth straight national title Huskies some punches in the nose and hanging with UConn rather well before reality set in.

The fact that those Bruins didn’t lose by 30 or 40 points like so many other Husky opponents says a lot.

It reminded me of the first Rocky movie when that club fighter stayed toe to toe with champion Apollo Creed for 15 rounds before losing.

With UCLA losing only one senior and their two best players, Canada and Billings, returning, next year looks very bright.

All they need is perhaps a little more depth to put them in a better position to get over the hump and not only join UConn, Notre Dame, and Baylor (among others) as one of  the elites of women’s college basketball,

But also to potentially beat those teams.

I regret not being able to check out those ladies at Pauley Pavilion this year.

Next year I’ll make a better effort to do so; perhaps when that UConn team comes to Pauley as they are scheduled to do.

Until next year, Bruin Hoopsters…

 

Joe Bruin and the UCLA Spirit Squad saluting the Bruins after a game. Photo courtesy of bustingbrackets.com

 

 

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