UCLA Football and Basketball Follow Same Paradigm

The UCLA football team had begun the 2013 season 5-0 when the schedule took a sudden detour, forcing the Bruins to play consecutive road games against top-10 powers Oregon and Stanford. The Bruins, with a new outlook, a new attitude, a major talent at quarterback, and perhaps college football’s number one defensive player, by losing both games showed that they were not yet good enough to join football’s small cache of elite teams.

Under new coach Steve Alford, the high-powered Bruins’ basketball team started the season 8-0, overpowering a group of largely lessor teams, but also demonstrating a new attitude, a new spirit, and a new high-octane style of play, plus a load of talent. Then today, their schedule took a similar detour, sending UCLA to the great state of Missouri, to play a

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road game against a perennially talented though currently unrated team, also at 8-0. Was the basketball team ready to take that leap towards the country’s elite that the football team could not yet do? That was the question as UCLA tipped off against the Tigers, with whom UCLA has developed an interesting rivalry since the 1995 NCAA tournament game that will forever be etched in the minds and souls of Bruins, THE game where Tyus Edney with 4.8 seconds to play and the team down by one, drove the length of the court to score and keep the team alive in the tournament it would eventually win for the school’s 11th national title.

The Bruins played well in the first half and took an eight-point into the second half, at which time that question was conclusively answered in the negative.

UCLA was averaging over 90 points per game through its eight game win steak, 98.8 in its last four, and scored 43 in this morning’s first half. And there the story changed, with the Bruins shooting a paltry 26% and zero-of-eight on three-pointers in the second half, scoring 28 points in the half to Mizzou’s 45, and losing by nine.

The most obvious difference between the teams was clearly the front court and controlling the backboards, with the Tigers out rebounding the Bruins, 47 to 30. But another key stat was in made three-pointers. As the Bruins could not hit one in the second half, Missouri hit on a total of ten

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for the game, double the five Bruins’ treys. That dominating Tigers’ front court also blocked five shots to none for the Bruins’ big guys. Only guard Zack LaVine recorded a Bruins’ block.

Great overall play from the Bruins’ guards, in particular Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, and freshman LaVine, over the first eight games masked some major problems up front. The three bigs on the Bruins, the Wear brothers and Tony Parker, in their first test of the season against the quality Tigers’ front, which is far from oversized with 6′ 11″ and 6′ 9″ starters Ryan Rosberg and Jonathan Williams, and reserve Tony Criswell at 6′ 9″, were awful. The three Bruins combined to shoot one-of-seven, score seven points, and pull down seven rebounds, in 60 minutes total playing time.

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Freshman Wanaah Bail, a real hopeful to contribute this season, was a non-factor, playing only two unimpressive minutes.

UCLA has a week off before playing the

2-6 Prairie View A & M Panthers, but then they get the Dukies at home at Pauley. Only that test and then two more games are left until the PAC-12 season begins January 5 against the brain surgeons. The talent level at sc is yet to be determined, but they do have size, with 7′ 2″ starting center Omar Oraby and backup seven-footer D.J. Haley, plus 6′ 10″ forward Nikola Jovanovic.

The two seven-footers alone are averaging 11 rebounds and four blocks per game between them in less than 40 minutes total playing time per game. The three Bruins’ 6′ 10″ forward-centers, playing 64 minutes per game, are averaging under 14 rebounds and a single block per game.

Dazzle can only go so far. Size and strength are also needed to win games.

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