Familiar UCLA Lament: “Oh No, Not Florida!”

Shades of Ben Howland and the 2006 NCAA basketball Tournament and the 2007 NCAA basketball Tournament and the 2011 NCAA basketball Tournament, as if any of us could forget.

BUT that is the past and this is now and Steve Alford is not Ben Howland.

In 2014, the Bruins are one of the top offensive teams in the country, now again facing Florida, which is one of the top defensive teams in the country. But do not forget that the bad games and the bad losses suffered by UCLA this past season have been games where

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the Bruins could not match up against bigger, stronger, more athletic front lines. The Bruins’ athletic talent is in the backcourt and wing-type players, the Andersons, LaVines, Powells, and Jordans, not “up front” where rebounds must be fought for in crowds of power and strength, and where David and Travis Wear, but with a lot of recent good minutes from Tony Parker, are what the Bruins have, and where many teams have seemingly driven to the basket with abandon, virtually untouched and certainly unstopped.

Florida is the Tournament’s number one seeded team and the current possessor of the country’s longest winning streak at 28 and they hope counting, Looking back at the deep, dark history of the past decade, in all those win or else games between Billy Donovan and Ben Howland teams, Donovan’s varied crews followed the same pattern and whatever

players he had on the court have used speed and precision to stymie what have generally been as or more talented Bruin players.

But as talented as the Bruins are this year Florida has the edge with what LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke calls “an awe-inspiring combination of power and speed”. Plaschke went on in his post game story tonight to highlight what is the biggest difference in this year’s Bruin’s team under Alford, as opposed to those earlier teams that lost to Florida under Howland – the players are this year having fun, something that could rarely ever be said about the Howland years.

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It will take a lot more than having fun for David and Travis Wear and Tony Parker to contain the Gators’ Patric Young inside, and for one of the few times this season the Bruins will be facing a point guard who is in the same class as Kyle Anderson, in SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin.

2006 was a disaster, 2007 was an even worse disaster, and 2011 was a total embarrassment, as was last year’s first round one and out at the hands of Minnesota. Alford is attempting to write a new chapter in the storied Book of UCLA Basketball, and beating Florida would sure be a page turner.

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