Tag:UCLA
Posted on: December 28, 2008 10:39 pm
 

PAC-10 Power Rankings (Pre-Conference)

There are still a few non-conference games remaining for the PAC-10 before the conference action begins this weekend. But most of the games are quite insignificant, and likely won't have much bearing on my rankings anyhow. Without furture ado, here are my PAC-10 Power Rankings heading into conference play.

  1. UCLA: Despite early struggles, they are a solid team with Collison at the helm. That three-guard lineup of Collison, Shipp, and Holiday is the best in the conference and enough to give any team fits.
  2. Arizona : They have a few ugly losses, but they have the best win in the conference (over Gonzaga). The Big Three are carrying a lot of the load and they have been getting help from unexpected talent. The youth is a concern.
  3. CAL: I said before the season, they are a surprise team to watch out for. Montgomery almost has you forgetting that they lost Ryan Anderson to the NBA. They're a great shooting team with a lot of long-range weapons.
  4. ASU: They've only got one loss, but that's not indicative of their struggles against a soft schedule. Harden is a beast that will carry this team far, but he's going to need a lot more help against the PAC-10.
  5. USC: Their record is padded because of their OOC schedule. DeRozan has performed well, but he's not even scratching Mayo numbers yet. They've got a few scorers and an average defense.Look for a loss or two in the second week of conference play.
  6. Stanford: They played a light OOC schedule, only eight games, but they won them all. With one of the wins coming over Santa Clara, they have done enough to deserve this spot for now. Their lacking frontcourt will cost them this spot... soon.
  7. Washington: Brockman is finally getting some offensive help, and a bit more muscle down low as well. They'll be moderately successful in PAC-10 play because of their interior size alone. They still need Pondexter to step it up another notch.
  8. Washington State: They got blasted by a couple of top-tier programs in non-conference play. I understand that the deliberate offense reduces points, but to only have three guys in double-digits (and just barely) isn't good. They need someone to step up and be a scoring threat in the worst kind of way.
  9. Oregon: They are a young team without a signature win, and some ugly losses. Ernie Kent will be on the hot seat if he can't get his freshmen to perform and fast. Don't sleep on Oregon though, they have the talent, just lack experience - and that's a great recipe for a second-half surge.
  10. Oregon State: Any surprise that they are here? With losses to Howard, Nevada, Yale, Montana State, and Iowa State it's not looking good that they'll pick up a win any time soon. The new coach has a huge task in front of him, maybe his brother-in-law can use some of that Senate Seat Money to buy off a couple refs for him. Just kidding, but seriously - it looks like they may go two straight seasons without a conference win. That's BAD!
Posted on: October 17, 2008 7:35 pm
 

UCLA Bruins '08-'09 Preview

UCLA Bruins

Head Coach: Ben Howland
Last Season’s Results: Conf. 19-2 (1st), Overall 35-4. Post Season: NCAA Tournament

Roster


Backcourt: UCLA’s backcourt is loaded with three future-NBA bound players in Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, and Josh Shipp. Shipp and Collison both tested the NBA waters last season before withdrawing from the draft. Jrue Holiday comes in as best point guard, and the second best player overall in the 2008 recruiting class.

They’ll continue to apply the stifling pressure defense that has been a trademark of Ben Howland’s teams forcing teams into bad decisions while producing easy scoring opportunities in transition for the Bruins. These guys are all around solid players and will be tough to match up with across the board.

Frontcourt: Alred Aboya returns as the starting power forward for the Bruins. Aboya is a solid defensive player who goes out and does what you need him to - put a body on guys, contest a few shots, and apply pressure off the ball.

J’Mison Morgan comes in as a highly touted center and looks to fill the shoes of Kevin Love. No small task in the least, but Morgan should be up to it and an immediate threat both offensively and defensively for the Bruins. He’ll need to work on his passing ability for the Bruins to click on all cylinders.

Bench:  UCLA is the deepest team in the PAC-10 with the ability to easily go 12 deep. They return  Michael Roll and James Keefe who will be accompanied by a tremendous recruiting class. Roll is a solid guard who can quietly put up big numbers - especially when he’s forgotten about in the corner as tends to happen with the prolific Bruins’ offense.

Keefe finished the season strong, stepping up in big games for the Bruins. He’ll look to continue his performance again this year.

Key Departures:  In addition to Lorenzo Mata-Real graduating, the Bruins saw Kevin Love, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Russell Westbrook skip off to the NBA Draft this summer. Those losses comprise of 56% of scoring, 60% of rebounding, and 46% of the assists from last season.

Key Recruits:
PG- Jrue Holiday - This kid has NBA written all over him. He’s got great ball handling skills, is an effective passer, and can create his own shot. He’s got a ridiculously quick first step to go along with good floor awareness and good decision making skills. He can use some work on his range.

C- J’Mison Morgan - a wide bodied center that has the strength to abuse opponents. Will have trouble face defending quicker guys who can make solid moves to the hoop instead of just posting up.
Jerime Anderson  - A 4 star recruit with great court vision and the ability to make the accurate and solid pass. Decent range for a big man, and great body control.

PF- Drew Gordon - An athletic power forward with a strong body, great athleticism, and a nice touch around the basket. Has decent shot blocking abilities, but needs to work on his offensive moves. More of a threat to get an offensive rebound than beat you on the blocks for a basket.

PG/SG - Malcolm Lee - a slashing guard with a quick first step, solid ball handling skills, and good range. He can become too aggressive and tends to over penetrate and tries to make the amazing pass instead of the good one.

*All Recruits whose name is linked lead to a highlight video for that player.

Strengths: What don’t the Bruins have? They will attack you with a phenomenal starting five, and keep hitting you with their deep bench. This is the deepest team in the conference, and likely one of the deepest in the nation.

Offensively they can score in bunches and will light teams up with their guard play.
They will be trademarked by Howland’s stifling defense, and make it ridiculously hard for teams to find any sort of offensive flow against them.

Weaknesses: No team is infallible, not even these Bruins. They will be a Title contender, but will have a few hiccups along the way.  While they will defensively hound opponents guards, they will have a disadvantage against the taller small forwards in the conference.

The other major knock on UCLA is their inability to score on the zone. Granted, they showed improvement in that regard last season, but they still struggled with it at times. The zone isn’t going to stop the Bruins this year, but it may slow them down some.

Key Dates:
Dec 4 @ Texas
Jan 11 @ USC
Feb 12 @ ASU
Feb 14 @ UofA

Outlook: Despite the significant off-season departures, UCLA is already being talked about as a Title contender. The Bruins won’t be as good as last year because of the grade curve of experienced leadership, and face it, Morgan is no Kevin Love. UCLA will still control the PAC-10, especially considering that a majority of the PAC-10 is rebuilding or is missing a key element or two from truly competing.

Projected Finish: PAC-10 Champs. Post Season: NCAA Tournament.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 7, 2008 4:23 pm
 

PAC-10 Preview 02/07/2008

Arizona & Arizona State: Rivalry matchup!!! ASU continues to spiral downward, desperately looking for a win. At this point, where they've dropped 5 straight, I think even an emotional win would be warmly welcomed as they try to salvage the rest of their season in anyway possible. They have to travel to Tucson to face the Wildcats, who prior to their matchup with UCLA were the hottest team in the conference shooting over 50% from the field over a 4 game stretch. After being embarrassed on national television Arizona will be looking to make someone pay. They've likely found the next best candidate, to Oregon State, in ASU. Last month it took ASU a come from behind OT to get a meager 5 point win in Tempe without Bayless on the floor for Arizona. I expect to see this one get ugly quick and Arizona will run away with a big win over the stumbling Sun Devils.

California: After coming off a road trip where they swept the Washington schools, CAL has to feel pretty confident as they host the Oregon schools this week. They should make short work of Oregon State on Thursday night before having to face the Ducks on Saturday. The second game of the week will prove to be a high-flyin' uptempo shoot out as CAL and OU are both primarily offense-minded teams. Should be a great matchup, but Oregon has too many weapons to be slowed down. Being the worst defensive team in the conference, CAL better hope for an off night by OU.

Oregon: Coming off a big win against their rivals Oregon has a tough week ahead. They'll have to travel to the Bay area to face Stanford and CAL. Stanford is a clear-cut #2 in the conference, and are a force on both ends of the floor. Oregon is going to have to look to run if they want to win this one. Just like last time they'll have to get the score into the low 70's. The slow-down game will favor Stanford tremendously. They'll go from a tough defeinsive team to facing a great offensive team fueled by Ryan Anderson in CAL. Both games will ultimately come down to Oregon's ability to force the tempo and get a lot of production out of Malik Hairston.

Oregon State: They'll face the Bay area schools this weekend as well while hunting for their first conference win. Doubt they'll get it this weekend. Can't we just replace these guys with the Harlem Globetrotters or something?!

Southern Cal: USC has come to life recently having snapped out of their early conference schedule slump. They should have an easy time with inconsistent, and short handed Washington. The real match-up will be a defensive battle with Washington State. WSU has been struggling lately, so USC has the opportunity to pull off a big upset this week to keep competetive for the #2 spot in the conference. Should be interesting, but it's going to depend on whether or not WSU can snap out of their funk. If they do, USC doesn't stand much of a chance.

Stanford: They'll play host to the Oregon schools this week, and look to win 6 and 7 straight. Stanford is the most consistent team in the conference so far this season, and the only team to notch 5 straight conference wins. They'll be challenged this week by Oregon, who beat them in their previous show down. Stanford will need to slow the game down and force it inside to Brook Lopez. Stanford should continue their winning streak with a sweep this weekend.

UCLA: They made short order of the Arizona schools last week, and they are the standout team in the conference. They'll look to protect their 1 game conference lead as they face off with Washington and Washington State this week. They'll get WSU at a great time because they're looking to rebound from their recent struggles against the rest of the conference. UCLA just needs to continue to play with the desire they've shown the last couple of games and they ought to be fine.

Washington: Their lack of a talented, athletic guard continues to haunt them. Brockman is a true beast inside, but without a guard that can cut to the basket their offense will continue to struggle. I love the match-up of Love vs. Brockman this week, but that's the only area that Washington stands any chance. They'll get torn up by both SoCal schools defenses and won't be able to handle the athleticism of their opponents this week. Not an easy week to face when you're looking at pulling yourself out of the 9th spot in the conference.

Washington State: They've been struggling fiercely lately. Their only win recently is against the hapless Sun Devils which was by the skin of their teeth. Their defense better show up with fury if they want to even stay with seven against the surging UCLA team. WSU needs to at least pick up a split this weekend with USC and UCLA, but with the rising momentum of the SoCal schools, and the recent stumblings of their own it's going to be tough.

The Conference race is really starting to shape up this week. UCLA, Stanford, Arizona, and USC will be looking to extend their seperation from the bottom half of the conference. WSU will look to regain their confidence as they're a shell of their early season demeanor. And everyone else is looking to turn things around in an uphill battle. This week will either provide more seperation in the conference, or muddle everyone together even further... should be interesting!

Posted on: January 20, 2008 11:05 pm
 

PAC-10 Power Rankings - 01/21/2008

1. (+1) WSU (4-1):  Looked impressive coming from behind against Oregon, completely man-handled Oregon State.

2. (-1) UCLA (4-1): That home loss to USC hurts, but they’re still top of the PAC.

3. (+1) Stanford (4-2): They weren’t impressive in either of their wins, but they got the job done and protected their home floor.

4. (+2) UofA (2-3): That road loss to Stanford was close, especially considering how poorly they shot. Put up a great team effort against CAL and showed that they can win on the road even when over-matched down low.

5. (-2) OU (3-3): The loss against WSU was expected, until they started the game 12-2 but couldn’t keep it up. A loss to Washington hurts, even if it is on the road.

6. (+2) USC (2-3): I had a hard time not putting them in the 5 spot because that win over UCLA was impressive. Until they can show that it’s not a one game occurrence they don’t belong in the top half of the conference.

7. (-2) ASU (4-1): Tied for first in the standings, but have gotten there by fortunate timing to face UA and OU, and it took double-overtime to beat CAL, and they were worthless without Pendergraph against Stanford. They began to unravel this week and soon enough will prove that they are the most overrated team in the country.

8. (+1) UW (2-3): Looked impressive holding home court over Oregon by tripping up the streaky Ducks, but they got lucky against Oregon State. Fortunately for them CAL did worse than they did, otherwise they’d still hold the #9 spot.

9. (-2) CAL (2-4): Getting swept by the Arizona schools on their home court is no way to stay competitive in the PAC-10. They’re fighting for one of the last spots in the conference tournament.

10. (0) OSU (0-6): No surprise they lost two more. That game against Washington was a heart breaker. Gives you the idea that at one point they’ll pull of a huge upset in Corvallis.

Previous Week.

Posted on: January 16, 2008 2:21 am
 

Pac-10 Power Rankings: 01/15/08

  1. UCLA - Clearly the favorite to win the PAC-10 this year, and their utter dominance over Washington State makes me wonder if they'll sweep the conference.
  2. Washington State - With only one loss this season, and the great defense this team plays they'll stay right on UCLA's heels. They aren't a team to overpower everyone with their offensive output, but make no mistake about it they won't lose many games this year.
  3. Oregon - They lost to Arizona State, but since then they've put it all together, including a come from behind win against Stanford. They're an extremely high-octane offensive team that likes to get out and run. They're troubles for the season, barring injury.
  4. Stanford - The Lopez twins are an imposing force down low and can carry this team far. Though their guard play outside of Goods leave a lot to be wanted.
  5. Arizona State - Probably over-rated for now because of their fortunate timing for facing Arizona without Bayless and Oregon before they snapped out of their slump. ASU will quickly fall two spots within the next few weeks. They've got a nice trio of Pendergraph, Harden, and Abbot that propel the team. These kids just aren't experienced enough to stay in the top half of the conference for long.
  6. Arizona - The team on the rise in the PAC-10. They've suffered a recent rough spot in their year while dealing with injuries to Bayless and Brielmaier. Bayless is back with a vengeance, and the entire team plays better with him on the floor. They'll face a tough, but winnable matchup this week against Stanford.
  7. California - Present a very balanced attack and can hang with just about anyone. They aren't a dominant team, but they're good enough to keep teams, even UCLA, from running away with the game.
  8. USC - O.J. Mayo may be a future NBA great, but he's not good enough to carry this team to a winning record in the PAC-10. It's going to be a long season for this spot light seeker and his teammates at the bottom of the conference.
  9. Washington - A good team gone bad. For whatever reason these guys still can't get it together. On a positive note they will get their first win this week against Oregon State. Teams need to be careful not to overlook UW because they are still talented team that has known success as recently as last year. If UW can pull it together they can quickly move up a few spots in just weeks.
  10. Oregon State - Do these guys really belong in the PAC-10? For all the other good teams in the conference, Oregon State seems devistatingly out of place. They'd be more at home in a conference like the "Big Sky." They'll be lucky to tally 1 win this year.
 
 
 
 
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