basketball, Bruin Nation, Bruins, college basketball, March Madness, NCAA, Pac-12 Conference, Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, UCLA Basketball, UCLA Bruins, UCLA Women's Basketball, University of California Los Angeles, Westwood
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
* At Kentucky, 97-92, on December 3rd
* vs USC, 102-70, on February 18th
* At Arizona, 77-72, on February 25th
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)
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
* 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
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
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!
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