ANALYZING HOW THE SEASON FARED FOR THE UCLA MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM IN 2017-18
UCLA BRUIN BASKETBALL: 2017-18 BY THE NUMBERS
Final Record: 21-12, 11-7 and tied for third place in the Pac-12 Conference
- Beat Kentucky, 83-75, in New Orleans on December 23rd
- Beat Arizona, 82-74, in Tucson on February 8th
- Swept both games from USC, 82-79 at Pauley Pavilion on February 3rd and 83-72 on March 3rd at Galen Center
- SHOPLIFTING INCIDENT IN CHINA: LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley being caught stealing sunglasses before UCLA’s opening game vs Georgia Tech, being suspended for the season, depleting the Bruins of much-needed depth, and completely embarrassing the country and Bruin Nation
- Blowing late leads and losing in several games, particularly to Michigan and Stanford (in double overtime)
- Losing twice to a mediocre middle-of-the-conference-pack Colorado team
- Looking absolutely listless, sloppy, and pathetic in their season-ending loss to St. Bonaventure, 65-58, in the NCAA “First Four” game in Dayton, OH on March 13th
Aaron Holiday (My Choice For Team MVP): 20.3 ppg, 5.7 apg,
Kris Wilkes: 13.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Thomas Welch: 12.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg
Points Leader: Holiday, 671
Rebounds Leader: Welch, 358 (87 offensive)
Assists Leader: Holiday, 192
Final Analysis and Thoughts:
On one hand, just the fact that this year’s version of the UCLA men’s basketball team had their named called on Selection Sunday at all, after what had happened in China this past November when those three freshmen completely disgraced Bruin Nation, was a pleasant thing, illustrating the heart and resilience, led by coach Steve Alford, that the Bruins displayed this season.
On the other hand, (and it’s a BIG “on the other hand”) – speaking of Alford…
I’m in agreement with the sentiments of roughly 99% of Bruin Nation who strongly advocates firing Alford and paying him the $5.2 million it would cost to buy him out.
I am convinced that the UCLA basketball program will never win a 12th national championship, or get to another Final Four, under Alford because his teams are too sloppy too much of the time and he is completely ineffective in coaching defense in particular; it showed in the recent loss to St. Bonaventure.
I won’t speculate who could take Alford’s place, but it’s become crystal clear to me that once again a change is needed.
The airplane that will fly over Westwood and the UCLA campus today with a banner saying “Final Fours not First Fours #FireAlford” will illustrate those sentiments.
However, I’ve got some unpleasant news to all the “Fire Alford” folks out there…
He’s not going anywhere, at least not this year.
MY CHOICE FOR THE BRUINS’ TOP HIGHLIGHT OF 2017-18: UCLA’s 83-72 win over USC at Galen Center on March 3rd, essentially knocking the Trojans out of the NCAA Tournament. Video courtesy of YouTube.
After paying former Bruin football coach Jim Mora $12 million in letting him go in November, I REALLY don’t see the folks at Morgan Center doing another multi-million dollar buyout for the coach of the other revenue sport so soon after that.
Which means despite another top-five recruiting class, including Shareef O’Neal – Shaq’s son – coming in next year, UCLA hoops’ fortunes will likely be similar to this year’s.
A big silver lining to this is that Alford will be on the hottest of hot seats, as well he should be after his team played worse than Charlie Brown pitches in the loss to St. Bonaventure and in the overtime period vs Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament.
And if things go as I think they may well go, I fully expect Alford to be given his pink slip at this time next year.
I had a thought about this men’s basketball team of my alma mater’s during their struggles this season, which I will share:
I don’t think that the UCLA Men’s Basketball program was ever REALLY and TRULY an elite program.
I feel that UCLA Men’s Basketball is a VERY GOOD program that had the most elite run in the history of sports with their ten national championships in twelve years and seven titles in a row from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.
In my opinion, there’s a difference between being an elite program and a very good program that had an elite run, as unlike UCLA teams like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Duke are in contention for national crowns EVERY year – or at least a lot more often than the Bruins.
And for those pulling the “tough academic admissions standards” card, I’ve got one word to say about that:
That’s a school ranked higher than UCLA in every academic, “nation’s top colleges” poll, with tougher admissions standards, and nobody needs any reminding whatsoever about what those Blue Devils have done under coach Mike Krzyzewski over nearly forty years.
Notice I didn’t mention Indiana as like UCLA, I don’t see them as an elite program anymore because of their lack of real success after Bob Knight was fired.
My evidence of this?
As everyone in Bruin Nation knows or should know – shame on any Bruin who doesn’t – the number of national titles UCLA has won in men’s basketball outside of the years 1964-1975?
ONE. In 1995, under Jim Harrick, the only man besides the great John Wooden who was ever able to hoist a banner to the Pauley Pavilion rafters.
I’m sorry, but that’s not my definition of a truly elite program.
In order for the Bruins to return to that status, I agree with the “Fire Alford” faction that real change must be needed.
Until that change is made, though as a Bruin alum I hope it doesn’t happen, next season I see things unfolding on the hard court the way they unfolded with this year’s team.
In fact, I think that someone should make and sell blue caps with gold lettering saying,
“Make UCLA Basketball Great Again”
And for that matter, a cap that says “Make UCLA Football Great Again” isn’t a bad idea, either.
I would certainly buy one.