Blog Entry

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Posted on: November 27, 2009 3:09 am
Edited on: November 27, 2009 3:27 am

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- There is no way to explain what happened here late Thursday, and that's not to be read as a shot at Portland. The Pilots were terrific, totally impressive, and they're good enough to push Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference. Between you and me (and the Friday Look Ahead ), I'm picking them to beat Minnesota in the semifinals of the 76 Classic because I'm a sucker for teams I watch shoot nearly 60 percent from 3-point range in a real life college basketball game.

That's what Portland did Thursday night.

The Pilots shot 57.9 percent from beyond the arc.

That's how they pounded UCLA by -- brace yourself -- a 74-47 margin.

"This team is ready for these kinds of challenges," said Portland coach Eric Reveno, whose Pilots now own victories over Oregon and UCLA. "I'm proud we were able to take advantage."

So Portland was awesome, I'm a believer, and it was fun to watch Reveno and his players enjoy such a huge win for the program, especially when you consider the seniors finished 10-20 when they were freshmen during Reveno's first season. It's a long way from there to here , and Portland has covered the ground. Terrific story. But I don't care if the opponent is Portland or Kansas or Michigan State or the Boston Celtics, it's difficult to make sense of Ben Howland's Bruins losing a game in such an embarrassing way.

That's what I meant when I wrote that it can't be explained.

Yes, UCLA has lost a ton of players early the past four seasons -- among them Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday -- and that eventually catches up with a program (unless that program is North Carolina). That's one way to look at things. But another way is to recognize that James Keefe, J'Mison Morgan, Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee, Drew Gordon and Mike Moser -- i.e. six of the 11 UCLA players who played against Portland -- were top 50 recruits coming out of high school and heralded just like Farmar, Afflalo and Holiday before them.

Placed in that context, this beat down at the Anaheim Civic Center was incomprehensible.

But it happened.

And now the Bruins are 2-2 heading into Friday's game against Butler.

"We've lost a lot, and it's hard to plan when you don't know if guys are coming or going, but we're not going to make excuses," Howland said. "We have to play way better than this. We have the talent to compete night in and night out."

Maybe so.

I mean, on paper that's true.

But it sure didn't look like it to anybody watching Thursday night.
Category: NCAAB
Since: Feb 15, 2009
Posted on: November 29, 2009 10:09 pm
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Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: November 27, 2009 2:30 pm

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

I think we can all agree that this is the worst UCLA team in recent memory. They are worse than any of the Lavin teams. UCLA has a lot of problems.

The Bruins need to get their young guys as much PT as they can and see which ones can play. Next year when Smith and Lamb get to town (and hopefully one of the big point guards) the Bruins can hopefully get competitive again.

A few things we have learned from the early games:

1. Anderson is not the answer at point guard. He can't shoot, he's not a dynamic penetrator or playmaker, and he can't keep his man in front of him. I was willing to wait while he got healthy, but he is being badly outplayed game after game. UCLA needs to do better.

2. Dragovic is a black hole. He is a soft shooter who can't shoot. His defense is terrible and because of the help defense system that the Bruins employ, he makes everyone else worse. Also he can't shoot, did I mention he can't shoot.

3. Lee has a chance, but he's not there yet. He's a guy that can be a really good player eventually, but he's not ready to carry a Pac-10 team yet.

4. Gordon can play at this level. His offense has gotten better and he's a good athlete. He gives them something.

5. Nelson and Lane look interesting as does Moser. Let's see what they're made of. Also, let's get a look at Bobo Morgan in games. Maybe he can't play at all, but neither can the rest of the guys. He can't be any worse.

Let's build on Gordon and Lee, use Roll, and play the freshmen and sophmores. James Keefe and Dragovic don't need minutes right now. This season is like practice for next year. Give these guys as much experience as we can and hope that the recruiting class and Honeycutt are enough next year to make us competitive.

Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: November 27, 2009 2:06 pm

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Gary, here's the problem: you base your projections predominantly on talent.  That works well over the course of the season, but it's a terrible way to predict what's going to happen in November.  The most talented teams are often the ones that have the biggest challenge in meshing early on, especially when a lot of that talent is in the freshman class.

Talent is the best predictor of champions in March, but you have to factor in experience more when it comes to November games. 

Since: Aug 17, 2008
Posted on: November 27, 2009 1:04 pm

Patience Parrish!

Please, to all of those who feel they have to say Howland is on the Hot Seat, He IS NOT!  First of all Portland is good and should make the Tourney.  They started 4 Seniors and and a Junior who have all played together for years.  Our Seniors have been role players. They also shot lights out from the 3 range - at one point I thought the announcer said they were 9 / 12 from 3 point range.  The only criticism I could give Howland is why No recruitment of a Point Guard with Holiday going to the Pros.  My Hope is that the Frosh and Soph of our team come around and peak during the Pac 10 Season and Tourney time.  UCLA will lose to Kansas and Notre Dame and possibly many more in December.  Have Faith Parrish!  Where was the article prior to the game?  I knew this season was going to be a tough one, we have lost 6 First Round Draft picks in the past two years.  I would like to see us not recruit the player likely to stay one year and leave.
You mentioned North Carolina always being great, what about the Matt Daugherty years, hmmm....  Short memory Parrish!

Since: Jan 12, 2009
Posted on: November 27, 2009 11:40 am

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Nice post founck. So refreshing to see a rational post by a fan of of top rated team. I keep waiting for fans of a some of other schools (who will remain nameless) to turn this into a UK vs. Cuse vs. Vols hate fest. Seems like almost every thread eventually ends up this way. Lots of hate back east....Oops....

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: November 27, 2009 11:40 am

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Even though the WCC has dominated the PAC-10 so far this season, and I'm a West Coast fan, I'd have to say that Minnesota will beat Portland. Even though I believe Portland will give them a good game, Minnesota is just better athetically. I also believe, strongly, that is VERY tough to repeat 3-pt shooting like the Pilots displayed against the Bruins. Often, 60% shooting can turn into 15% the very next game.

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: November 27, 2009 11:31 am

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Yes the WCC is awesome this year with FOUR teams.   All four teams have not lost a game yet in their Thanksgiving Tourneys.   Gonzaga won the Maui Invitational, San Diego beat Oklahoma already in the Great Alaska Shootout, and seems like it will do well there and plays Houston today.  St. Mary's, from the look of the bracket should do VERY well at Diamond Head Classic, and the Portland/Minnesota game is the most exciting game on TV today which is the Old Spice Anaheim Extravaganza.  .  (Did I mention that football is for troglodytes?)

Since: Aug 12, 2008
Posted on: November 27, 2009 11:17 am

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Quit picking on the gophers they will beat portland because minnesota's defense is to good to be shooting 60% against and give them props all pre-season you have been downgrading them because a freshman and a JUCO transfer are suspended yet they beat the number 10 team in the nation that you love and now you pick Portland to beat really don't like Tubby or Minnesota I guess.

Since: Nov 14, 2009
Posted on: November 27, 2009 11:00 am

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Jaw-dropping loss for UCLA and maybe puts Howland on the hot seat this early in the season.  Pilots are an experienced team that can definitely play with the big boys on the right day.  Last night they were lights out!  Raivio should contend for WCC player of the year.

To re-instate Drogovic shows the clear deperation for the UCLA program, after he was arrested following a bar fight. You pay for what you get, DMB.

Since: Oct 4, 2006
Posted on: November 27, 2009 10:31 am

Is UCLA untalented despite six top 50 recruits?

Next week:

KU 163

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