Category Archives: UCLA

Monday Morning Coffee

September 4, 2023

Happy Labor Day everyone! The Dodgers were definitely bullied this weekend at the Ravine by the Atlanta Braves. There’s no question going into October, the Braves should be the definitive favorites to come out of the NL. However, that shouldn’t really bother you if you’re a Dodger fan. That’s because having the best record in baseball and being the favorite has basically been a death sentence for that team in the postseason the past twenty years or so. While that might not make sense on paper, in reality, it actually makes plenty of sense. The best thing the Dodgers have going for them is that they won’t be the favorites this year. They also should have Walker Buehler, JD Martinez, and Clayton Kershaw in October, which they didn’t have in this series due to injury, or just the schedule in Kershaw’s case. I think it’s fair to say though that Bobby Miller made a statement yesterday that he should be in the postseason rotation, regardless of what Andrew Friedman’s computer says. Hopefully Max Muncy’s injury isn’t too serious though.

As for the Angels, what a pathetic display we’ve seen from this organization over the past week. They put every player they acquired at the trade deadline on waivers, just so they could get under the luxury tax. I’m sure Angel fans were hoping that somehow Arte could be put on waivers too, but sadly, that’s not possible. Then they lose 2 of 3 to the Phillies, then they get swept by the A’s, the worst team in baseball. On top of that, Mike Trout says he plans to talk to Angels brass about the future of the organization, and had no comment when asked if he might ask for a trade. However, what he probably doesn’t realize is that his trade value is probably worth a bag of chips right now considering he’s been injured and he makes a ton of money. Don’t feel bad though Mike, your teammate, Anthony Rendon is a worthless pile of garbage, who isn’t even worth a pack of gum either at this point. Besides, how can he talk to Angels brass about his future, when it’s quite possible they won’t even be around. Bob Nightengale says that Arte Moreno is deciding whether or not to keep skipper Phil Nevin, and GM Perry Minasian after this season. That sounds like a solid plan when you are in the process of trying to keep the great free agent of all time from signing with another franchise.

To College Football, where USC dominated Nevada over the weekend at the Coliseum. Caleb Williams looked like he was playing PlayStation out there, throwing 5 touchdown passes, and slinging the ball around the yard like he’s Al Bundy. More importantly for USC, their defense actually had it together this game. The held Nevada to 49 yards in 38 carries, the lowest rushing total for a USC opponent since Arizona State’s 47-yard total on Nov. 9, 2019. The Trojans should feel good about that but where they should be concerned is how rough the PAC-12 suddenly looks. It’s so tough, I have no idea how any team in the conference could get through the season undefeated. The Trojans shouldn’t have any problem with Stanford next week though.

Then there’s UCLA, which took down Coastal Carolina by pulling away late. The story though was Dante Moore. I was beginning to think Chip Kelly was going to wait to play him until he entered the transfer portal. Ethan Garbers played ok, but you simply cannot deny the talent that Moore has, and what kind of upside the team can have with him developing every game and leading that offense. It’s hard for me to believe that the Bruins are going to be that great with the conference being so stacked, but things might be looking up for them with Moore after this year, even as they head to the Big 10.

I realize that the cable model is completely screwed up at this point. However, Spectrum is making a huge mistake by not carrying ESPN at the worst time of year. The only thing that is keeping the cable model alive right now is live sports. For Spectrum to reach an impasse over the distribution rights with ESPN, that’s extremely shortsighted. If you aren’t going to carry live sports, even if it’s ESPN and their woke crap, then you might as well just give up on the cable business, because that’s the only thing keeping the model alive.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are about a month away from training camp opening. However, it’s that time of year where we get to hear ridiculous rumors and names. The ones that came up in the past week were Giannis, and Trae Young. Giannis, who is rumored to potentially ask for a trade if the Bucks don’t continue to show they are in contention, is now being rumored to be headed to the Lakers. This is the type of thing that is discussed on talk radio, but would never actually happen anytime soon, or unless Giannis forced his way out. Then there were sources that suggested that the Lakers were interested in Trae Young previously. That was probably before they realized that they already have a third star in Austin Reaves. Again, this type of thing is only talked about in fantasy chat rooms and talk radio, with almost no chance of it actually happening. Besides, every single great player is linked to the Lakers.

Finally, can we just call Kelly Stafford “The Pillow Snitch”? I don’t care if she has a podcast or not. Why does she think it’s ok to be just spilling info about her husband’s relationship with his teammates? Is she naive enough to think that his teammates won’t begin to resent him knowing that he told her these things? Between Stafford’s minor friction with teammates, Cooper Kupp’s injury, this is already trending toward a season the Rams could give up on quickly.

Monday Morning Coffee


Long ago I came to the realization that NBA refs were the worst in sports. The reason is because they are by far the least consistent. It could be a foul in the 1st quarter but not in the 4th. That was on full display Saturday night in Boston where the Lakers got screwed. It wasn’t just the Lebron call at the end of regulation. There were 4 or 5 calls they got hosed on. To make matters worse, they have really gotten screwed the last few weeks in these critical moments. According to NBA Twitter, Laker fans aren’t allowed to be upset because every team in the league gets screwed on four crucial calls on the last play of the game in a two-week span. There’s bad, and then there’s this. This is the difference between the Lakers being in 13th in the West vs 4th. I normally don’t like to complain about officiating like this. I’d much rather be talking about the Rui Hachimura trade and how it was a solid move by Rob Pelinka. However, this has been insane, and because of it the Lakers will have to play about .700 ball the rest of the way to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have won 5 of their last 6 games, and jumped back up to 4 in the West. Now comes the annual “will they trade for a point guard” rumors. We’ve been hearing this for a few years, but the team has never really found the one guy that can be a playmaker and take that load off of Kawhi and Paul George. There’s been a lot of talk about Fred VanVleet too, but this isn’t 2019, and it’s not even 2022. VanVleet this year, hasn’t been the same player he was that got him paid. He’s also not a playmaking point guard. He’s a shooter. Unless he’s entering a Time Machine, I don’t see how this is a good trade for most teams, including the Clippers, given the cost to acquire him. It’s probably worth noting too that he switched agents and is moving to Klutch Sports, which isn’t a good thing if you’re a Laker fan who isn’t a fan of this move.

To the NFL, where Championship Sunday went down yesterday. Congrats to the Eagles on advancing to the Super Bowl and destroying their city in the process. Philly was easily the best team all around in the NFC this year, so they deserve to be here. I’m surprised Kyle Shannahan didn’t resort to having Christian McCaffrey or Deebo Samuel run the wild cat when he discovered he was out of QBs that could throw the ball down the field. Let’s not pretend Rams fans aren’t getting a kick out of the San Francisco loss, with everyone reacting like the Niners won the Super Bowl after every regular season win. Then there’s the AFC matchup that was fun to watch. Gotta give it up for Patrick Mahomes and doing what he did on one leg. Joe Burrow probably outplayed him, but the Chiefs hung around long enough to make a few more big plays at the end. It’s also unfortunate that the late hit is what ended the Bengals season and what otherwise was a great game. Those two teams look like real rivals now that will be back at it again the next few years.

To baseball where the Angels, and the MLB for that matter, got some very bad news last week. Arte Moreno is going to remain the Halos owner for what appears to be at least the next few seasons. This stinks. The Angels were poised to get new ownership with deeper pockets to build out a more modern and competent organizational infrastructure. Instead, they are stuck with a guy who doesn’t get the importance of investing in scouting and development, and who ultimately, can’t outspend the big market teams. This also means that Shohei Ohtani is likely a goner after this season. Mike Trout probably can’t feel great about this either, but he’s probably not looking for a trade at least yet.

Congrats to local NBC 4 legend Fred Roggin on an amazing 40 years as a sports anchor. Roggin had his last day at NBC last Thursday. Since the day I was born, Roggin has been the local guy at NBC, and always a pleasure to listen to. Even when he had the opportunity to jump ship to ESPN, or other opportunities to cater to those who didn’t watch the 11 pm news, he stayed true to his local following. He’ll still be heard on local radio on AM 570 and explore other TV opportunities. Nevertheless, he’s made his mark on the LA sports media market.

Finally, no need to panic about UCLA basketball losing two in a row. They are halfway though the PAC—12 schedule and still in great position for one of the top 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. However, they do need to clean up things, and those can easily be fixed internally. Stop turning the ball over for starters. Get Amari Bailey more involved and comfortable starting, while getting David Singleton back in his 6th man role. They also need to get Jaylen Clark going again, who is shooting like Russell Westbrook these days. It’s about peaking at the right time, and there is still time to do so.

Monday Morning Coffee

December 9, 2019

I don’t understand how the Lakers are winning all these games against good teams. I mean they just played a road back-to-back against teams with an over .500 record. I was told they only play against WNBA teams and that they’re sure to get bombed against real competition. This can’t be true because the people that told me this cover this sport for a living. I mean it’s impossible anybody could be that bad at their job right? Maybe the Lakers strength of schedule is bad because most every team they play loses to them. This team is damn good, and at this point there are probably two or three teams at most that stand in their way between them and the title. Wait until Kuzma gets his act together and this team will be really unstoppable.

Then there’s the Clippers. I see the Bucks took advantage of their weak schedule on Friday. Paul George is already in playoff form against elite teams, but hey…. at least Kawhi is well rested. I’m sure all 5 of you Clipper fans are still confident. In all seriousness though, it’s clear the Clippers are playing the long game with Kawhi, PG, and how they are approaching a lot of these big matchup regular season games. At a certain point though this team needs time to build chemistry to succeed against the elite, and since they aren’t even practicing together very much, I’m not so sure they are setting themselves up to do that.

Where has this Rams team been all season? After dismantling the Seahawks last night at the Coliseum, LA is still only on game back of the last playoff spot in the NFC playoff chase. Suddenly Jared Goff and Todd Gurley look like themselves. I’m just not sure it’s going to be in time to make the playoffs. Thanks to Sean McVay for “not being an idiot” as he claimed, and giving Gurley the ball. I’m suddenly not so worried about the Rams beating up on the Cowboys next week, and might not even be shocked if they beat the 49ers at Levi Stadium. However, it’s the Vikings schedule, or lack therof that makes me think the Rams will be watching the playoffs at home.

The Chargers actually won a game, after the destroying the Jaguars on the road. That kind of beat down makes you realize just how much this team has underachieved. They have unbelievable talent, but they can’t beat anybody at the most critical times. If only Philip Rivers could play like it was his birthday everyday. Now that their season is meaningless, the Bolts will probably win every game.

Elsewhere around Week 14, NFL Sunday’s don’t officially start until Jameis Winston throws an interception, and he did plenty of that yesterday. Let’s be honest….it was probably Bill Belichick that managed to get the Chiefs equipment sent to New Jersey. Funny how Mitch Trubisky looks like Lamar Jackson against the Cowboys. The Texans showed up dressed like Average Joe’s, and they played like Average Joe’s against the Broncos.

To College Football where Mike “Bohn-head” made a move that every Trojan fan feared. He kept Clay Helton as his head coach. I realize that the University is trying to clean up scandals and lawsuits, but one can still do that and win football games by hiring a coach that isn’t Clay Helton or Urban Meyer. Also, anybody that thinks the boosters and the fan base aren’t important doesn’t get it. The Trojans are going to cost themselves millions of dollars in donations and revenue with the poor decision they just made. If they don’t realize that, then Carol Folt and Mike Bohn are completely clueless as to the significance of USC’s place in the Los Angeles sports landscape.

As for UCLA, Chip Kelly said he’s excited for what’s ahead with UCLA football. Let’ see: the man is owed another $15 million for three more season, his job is safe, his defensive coordinator is going to take all the heat, and he doesn’t have to coach another embarrassing loss for 9 more months. Of course he’s excited!

Ok ESPN I get it. The Yankees like Gerrit Cole. I don’t need to see it in headlines 80 times. The Yankees want to make Cole a priority. That’s a cute story. I want to make Jennifer Aniston a priority as well, but that probably doesn’t matter because she won’t date me. The same goes for Cole, who we know prefers the Angels or Dodgers. Let’s be honest though, Andrew Friedman isn’t going to pay $250+ million for any player. The real question is simply whether or not the Angels are going to make a bid high enough, knowing Cole already wants to be here. They don’t actually need to outbid the Yankees.

Monday Morning Coffee

November 25, 2019

The Lakers are 14-2. Lebron has never gotten off to a start this good with any team. Hey Jackie McMullon and Brian Windhorst….not bad for a team that is “a work in progress” right? I can’t wait to see what they look like when they do, because they are already a defensive juggernaut. Weird because I thought they were supposed to be flawed defensively, and that Rob Pelinka was a novice. Where are all those people now? It’s a long season, and a lot can happen between now and June, but if this team stays healthy, no reason they aren’t going to be a legitimate title contender. These ESPN NBA analysts are more inaccurate than a Southern California Weather Man.

As for the Clippers, they have been finding the win column as well now that they have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the floor together. There’s a lot of skill set duplication with these two, but defensively, they can be very good when they want to, which we saw on Friday against the Rockets. That was a great game to watch between two very annoying teams that deserve Oscar Awards. James Harden is a phenomenal player, but his ability to manipulate referees into sending him to the foul line makes the game very unwatchable. As if that’s not annoying enough, Doc Rivers might as well be defending the three-point line since he’s so far onto the court in the 4th quarter. Then there’s Patrick Beverly who is out here acting like he just got tazed.

Speaking of the NBA, I can appreciate the idea of Adam Silver’s radical proposals. I love the idea of re-seeding at the conference finals to insure the finals are played with the two best teams. That’s a good compromise as opposed to seeding 1-16 to start the playoffs, which would cause additional travel fatigue for some teams. As for the in-season tournament, as long it doesn’t replace the All-Star game, I’m in favor. This could reduce tanking, load management, and make some of of the smaller market teams more relevant. If executed properly, it has great potential for success. You can thank the Clippers load management of Kawhi for getting the league to its breaking point on this issue.

To College Football, where I’ve never seen a weirder UCLA-USC game then Saturday at the Coliseum. Both teams fan bases wanted the other side to win, all because of the fate of Clay Helton. That’s right….UCLA fans want Helton to stay to keep the team in mediocrity, while USC fans want Helton gone to get back to being an elite program. Then it was almost like Helton and Chip Kelly were trolling each other with all the timeouts they called at odd unnecessary moments. 52-35? Cute flag football game guys. In typical UCLA fashion, the offense put up some points, the defense was awful, and Kelly was wildly idiotic. A perfect summary of the season. Get ready for another season of that. Meanwhile, the Trojans will probably make it to some mediocre bowl game, while we await the fate of the underwhelming Helton. Hopefully they don’t wait too long to decide for their sake, since their recruiting rankings are sinking like the Titanic.

I was really beginning to wonder if UCLA basketball was any good, but I got my answer after they lost to Hoffstra at home on Friday. That’s this season’s version of a Cal Poly loss, which they suffered at home in the recent past. Since Mick Cronin is telling us his team is a work progress, maybe next year he should schedule the likes of Bluefield State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Redlands, and Hampton, who all scored fewer than 50 points in a game this week. Now I see why UCLA was picked to finish 8th in the PAC-12 by the media. Unless Mick Cronin can draw something on a white board other than a clown face, I’m pretty sure things are going to get a lot worse for the Bruins when they start facing tougher competition in Maui next week.

In the NFL, we can now add Philip Rivers to the long list of things we need to apologize to Mexico for. Rivers was awful last week against the Chiefs in Mexico, and has been looking very washed up the last few weeks. For the few of you left who are only “sticking with the Chargers because of Rivers”, you might want to start thinking about what you’re going to be doing with your Sunday’s next fall. We’ve been saying for several seasons the Bolts need to find a successor to Rivers in the draft, but they’ve been stubborn about it. Now it’s about to catch up to them. That’s just one of many problems for a team that has no fan base, and is about to move into a new stadium where they will be even more of an embarrassment.

The Rams don’t play until tonight against the Ravens at the Coliseum. However, they better bring everything they’ve got. If they lose this game, you can pretty much put the nail in the coffin on their playoff hopes for this season. I sure hope Sean McVay is planning on giving the ball to Todd Gurley about 30 times in this game, and milk the clock on every possession. Otherwise, Lamar Jackson is going to dismantle them piece by piece and it’s going to get ugly at the Coliseum.

Elsewhere around Week 12, The Patriots got the benefit of another critical call in their win against the Cowboys. The refs have to be having Thanksgiving dinner at Bill Belichick’s house. The Packers play like cheese heads when they play in the state of California. Jameis Winston recorded his 100th career turnover against the Falcons. To celebrate, all fans in attendance received a coupon for a free Apple turnover from Betty Crocker. The Jaguars made the Titans look like the the ’72 Dolphins. The Raiders lost to the Jets, and their playoff hopes are disappearing faster than a Democrat’s hopes to become President. The Steelers benched Mason Rudolph in favor of Delvin Hodges and got a win, but the real laughs were in Cleveland, where Browns fans were swinging at Rudolph pinata with a football helmet. These guys are killing it!


On the ice, I love how the Kings had won 4 of their last 5 games going into Saturday, but were in no danger of jeopardizing their lottery status. LA is still firmly in last place in the Western Conference, and only the Red Wings are worse than them in the entire league. The Kings also lost to Coyotes twice this week. The same Coyotes team that is suddenly one of the best defensive teams in hockey, and has almost as bad of an offense as the Kings. It just so happens the Coyotes are near the top of the Pacific Division. Funny how that works. You would think a Kings team that won two Stanley Cups this decade with a defensive focus would know that’s how you become competitive quickly, but apparently they decided to be like everybody else and chase speed and offense. Downright foolishness. The Kings just keep losing, while their fans would rather be watching re-runs of Temptation Island, because they’ve gotten so boring.

Finally, the Mid-Season Finale of The Walking Dead went down last night on AMC. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if that is the case. Where do I buy that Christmas sweater that Chris Hardwick was wearing? Chase the enemy on their own territory…..real smart Carol. Why didn’t she just take out an arrow and kill Alpha right then and there? I think the group is gonna need a Genie to get out of that cave where the herd is. Father Gabriel is now the biggest badass on the show. Can’t wait to see what Negan’s reaction is to all this I never thought Eugene would break through the friend zone with Rosita, but he finally did. Even super nerds can find some action people! I appreciate the show putting the music books in the proper Dewey decimal aisle in the post-apocalyptic library. Judith should have cut that guys head off for what he did to Ace. Great episode, but this is my face when I found out the show won’t be back until February 23rd of 2020!


Predators Skate By Ducks in Game 5

May 20, 2017

Pontus Aberg scored the game-winning goal with just under 9 minutes left in the 3rd period, and the Predators defeated the Ducks 3-1 in game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.  Nashville has a 3-2 series lead, one game away from eliminating the Ducks and moving on to the Stanley Cup Final.

Aberg dove across the crease to swat home a rebound on a shot by Filip Forsberg, which was his first-career playoff goal.  Aberg face planted on the play, lost a tooth, and was taken off the ice for medical evaluation.  However, he was ok and the decisive goal pushed the Ducks to the brink of elimination.

Austin Watson added an empty-netter with 48 seconds left to play.  Moments earlier Jakob Silfverberg broke his stick, allowing Watson to shoot the puck from his own end, down the ice into the empty cage.

Both teams were plagued by injuries to key players.  The Predators overcame the absence of top scorer Ryan Johansen and captain Mike Fisher.  The Ducks were missing two of their top scorers in  Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves.  They also lost goaltender John Gibson after the 1st period, after he left with a lower body injury.

Gibson was replaced by Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 16 shots in relief.  On the other side, Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for Nashville, which has won 5 of their last 7 playoff games in Anaheim.

After a scoreless 1st period, both teams exchanged goals in the 2nd period.  Chris Wagner scored on a rebound from a shot by Brandon Montour.  It was Wagner’s 2nd career playoff goal.

Nashville got even with 40 seconds left in the 2nd.  Colin Wilson pounced on a rebound in front of Bernier, which game came on the power play.

Game 6 of the series will be Monday night in Nashville.  The Ducks will try to avoid being eliminated by the Predators for the 2nd year in a row, and eliminated from the conference finals for the 2nd time in the last 3 years.

Dodgers Beat Giants In 10

April 27, 2017

The Dodgers exploded for 4 runs in the 10th inning on Thursday afternoon at AT&T park and defeated the Giants 4-1.  LA split their four games series with San Francisco, with each team winning two games each.

Julio Urias made his 2017 debut, allowing just 1 run in 5 2/3 innings for LA, despite receiving a no-decision.  Urias allowed four hits, walked four and struck out four.

Kenley Jansen (1-0) got credit for the victory.  He pitched the 9th inning, and struck out the side.

“I felt good, I felt confident,” Urias said. “I felt like what I did last year was able to help me build confidence for this year.”

Giants starter Matt Moore allowed one run and two hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out eight.  Corey Gearrin (0-1) took the loss for San Francisco.

The Dodgers got off to a strong start on a solo homer from Corey Seager in the 1st inning.  However, the Giants would tie things up in the 6th inning when Christian Arroyo delivered an RBI single that scored Brandon Belt, which tied the game at 1-1.

After losing to the Giants in 10 innings on Wednesday night, the Dodgers turned the tables less than 24 hours later in the 10th inning Thursday afternoon.  Andrew Toles drove in pinch-runner Ross Stripling with the bases-loaded, which broke the tie.  Kike Hernandez followed with a sacrifice fly, and after an intentional walk to Corey Seager, Justin Turner delivered an RBI single.  Chris Taylor capped the rally with a based-loaded walk.

The Dodgers return home on Friday to begin a 3-game set with the Phillies.  Kenta Maeda will be on the hill for LA (1-2; 8.05 ERA), while the Phillies will go with Jerad Eickhoff (0-1; 2.55 ERA).



Angels Walk Off Against A’s in 11

April 25, 2017

Kole Calhoun delivered a walk off RBI single to score Danny Espinosa in the bottom of the 11th inning, and the Angels defeated A’s 2-1 in 11 innings on Tuesday night at the Big A.

This one was scoreless until extra innings, when both teams were finally able to get on the board against the bullpen.  Josh Phegley hit a solo shot off of Jose Alvarez in the 10th inning.  However, Mike Trout countered with a solo shot of his own in the Halo half of the 10th inning to tie the game.

Brooks Pounders (1-0) got credit for the victory after pitching a scoreless 11th inning.  Ryan Madson (0-2) took the loss for Oakland after giving up the game-winning hit to Calhoun

JC Ramirez had a strong start for the Angels, going 7 innings, giving up just 2 hits an striking out 7.  Jesse Hahn was just as good for the A’s, going 8 inning and giving up a single hit, while striking out 6.

Neither team could advance a base runner past 2nd base after a combined 60 plate appearances.

The Angels improved to 10-12 on the season.  Manager Mike Scioscia got his 1,500th career victory.

Both teams will be back at it on Wednesday night at the Big A.  The Angels will go with Matt Shoemaker (0-1; 4.98 ERA) while the A’s will counter with Sean Manea (1-1 4.43 ERA).

UCLA Run Ends Against Kentucky

March 24, 2017

Looks like Lavar Ball was wrong on this one.  UCLA was eliminated by Kentucky on Friday night in Memphis in the Sweet 16, losing by a score of 86-75.

The game belonged to De’Aaron Fox, who scored 39 points on the night.  It was the best NCAA scoring performance for Kentucky since Tayshaun Prince had 41 against Tulsa in 2002, and it was the best by a freshman in tournament history.  Kentucky wins its 14th straight game, and moves on to play UNC in the Elite 8 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, UCLA was eliminated in the Sweet 16 for the 3rd time in the last 4 years.  That’s all too common a problem for Steve Alford, whose teams have never been further in the tournament.

Lonzo Ball, who announced after the game that he played his last game as a Bruin, scored 10 points while dishing out 8 assists, but turned it over 4 times as well.

The first half was not the up and down pace you would have thought from these two squads, and Kentucky took a 36-33 lead at the break.

In the 2nd half, the closest the Bruins would get would be 50-49.  The Wildcats pushed their lead to as many 14 in the final minutes.

UCLA shot well from the field but the Bruins turned the ball over 13 times, and Kentucky outscored them 14-2 off the mistakes.

The Bruins are done for the year, but much to the surprise and disappointment of some, Steve Alford announced that he is returning to UCLA and will not be taking the job with his alma matter, Indiana.  “I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully that’ll continue,” Alford said.

UCLA has the #2 recruiting class in the country coming in next year, including Lonzo’s younger brother, LiAngelo.  Recruiting has always been Alford’s strong suit, but it’s the coaching that’s been more troubling.

Lonzo Ball & The Bruins Blitz Cincinnati

March 19, 2017

Lonzo Ball showed his brilliance again on Sunday night.  It also came just in time, as the Bruins finally pulled away from Cincinnati in the 2nd half to defeat them 79-67 in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament in Sacramento.

Ball scored 18 points, while dishing out 9 assists, and grabbing 7 boards to spark UCLA’s offense after a difficult 1st half.  TJ Leaf scored 11 points and had 7 rebounds as well, as the Bruins scored 49 points in the 2nd half.  That completely changed a game in which UCLA trailed 33-30 at halftime.

“I don’t know of a more fun basketball team to watch when we’re clicking,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said.  Their offense got going, but it was really their defense that sparked the team after halftime.  “The key to that was going to be defensive stops,” Alford said, “and we came out and got three stops in a row.”

The Bruins opened the 2nd half with a 10-3 run, which included dunks from Leaf and Thomas Welsh.    That gave them a 40-36 lead.  Shortly after that, UCLA would find their stroke from behind the arc, making three straight 3-pointers.  Two of them were from Ball, and the other from Bryce Alford.  That stretched the lead to 55-47 with 12:25 left.

The Bruins never looked back from there.  The only real question mark hanging over the team was the future of coach Steve Alford, who has reportedly been offered a 7-year $31 million contract to coach Indiana.  He once again, deflected the question when asked about it after the game.

“I’ve already addressed that matter and I’m not going to address it anymore,” Alford said. “This is about our team and what these guys are doing.”

The Bruins will now travel to Memphis to take on Kentucky on Friday in the Sweet 16.  It’s also UCLA’s 3rd trip to the Sweet 16 in the last 4 years under Alford.

UCLA defeated Kentucky back in December 97-92 in Lexington.  “It’s a very, very good basketball team,” Steve Alford said “I think they’re better now in March than they were when we played them in December and I think we’re better than what we were in December as well. Makes for a great matchup.”



Bruins Get A Scare But Beat Kent St.

March 17, 2017

The Bruins collectively held their breath on Friday night in the 1st half when Lonzo Ball fell to the floor holding his hip.  Ball was undercut after receiving a lob pass just before halftime.  However, after slowly getting up, he stayed in the game.  Ball went on to finish the game with 15 points and the Bruins took care of Kent State 97-80 to advance to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

TJ Leaf scored 23 points and Thomas Welsh added 16, as UCLA pulled away late to get the win in Sacramento.  The Bruins jumped out to a 14 point lead in the opening minutes, but Kent State would battle their way back against a UCLA team that didn’t seem very interested in playing defense again.

Despite a 16-2 run in the 1st half, Kent State was only down 47-39 at the half.  The Golden Flashes would get as close as four points in the 2nd half after a 3-pointer by Jalen Avery.  Jaylin Walker led Kent State with 23 points and Jimmy Hall Jr scored 20 for the Golden Flashes.

However, midway through the 2nd half, UCLA would put the lead back to double-digits.  “We kinda let up,”  Bruins coach Steve Alford said. “Our shot selection was worse. We didn’t defend. There is a poise to what you want to do offensively, but you’ve got to have poise defensively too. I didn’t think we did that as well in the first half as a team.”

Had Ball been seriously hurt, the Bruins hope for NCAA tournament run would have been crushed.  Fortunately, he avoided major injury.  “I’m fine,” said Ball.  “Finished the game, got up. I’m good.”

UCLA finally found its shooting stroke after last week’s struggles in the conference tournament.  The Bruins shot 62% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line.

The Bruins will need to keep that shooting stroke going against a gritty Cincinnati team on Sunday in the round of 32.