Why My Team Didn’t Win the Championship: UCLA

Power of the PAC-12

UCLA finished the 2015-16 college basketball season with an overall record of 15-17 and a 6-12 record in conference play, which placed the team 10th in the PAC-12. The fantastic guard play, led by Isaac Hamilton, Bryce Alford, and Aaron Holiday, was not enough to make up for the porous Bruins defense that surrendered 76.7 points per game, ranking 285th out of 351 Division I teams. In order for UCLA to win games, they had to simply outscore the opponent, which is hardly ever a successful strategy. As the old saying goes, defense wins championships. However, the main reason for UCLA not winning the national championship this year was due to the strength of the PAC-12. This year the PAC-12 sent a record 7 teams to the NCAA tournament. Oregon, Arizona, California, Oregon State, Utah, USC, and Colorado all made the tournament. Oregon was the powerhouse of the conference and found themselves on the 1 line on Selection Sunday. Colorado was an 8 seed, Arizona was a 6 seed, Oregon State was a 7 seed, Utah was a 3 seed, USC was an 8 seed, and Cal was a 4 seed. UCLA had quality wins against Gonzaga, Kentucky, Arizona, Oregon State, and Colorado, but ultimately the intense PAC-12 gauntlet that UCLA had to go through and endure over three months was too much to handle for this team. Furthermore, UCLA was not able to be very consistent on a game to game basis because they were a young team. Tony Parker, a 6-9 forward from Atlanta, Georgia, was the only senior on the team. 11 out of the 16 players on the team were underclassmen, with 6 out of the 11 being freshmen. A grueling schedule coupled with an inexperienced team led to a lackluster overall performance that prompted speculation by fans and the media as to whether or not Steve Alford is truly the right person to serve as head coach of the Bruins. Fans expect prosperity due to the fact that UCLA is a prestigious basketball university with 11 national championships in men’s hoops to its name. They expect nothing less. Alford owned up to his shortcomings, nonetheless, by giving back a one-year extension to his contract that he signed in 2014. In an email, he said that “At the end of the day, year three was clearly not up to UCLA standards.”  This year Alford is bringing in a top 10 recruiting class, headlined by Naismith Prep Player of the Year Lonzo Ball. T.J. Leaf, a 5-star PF from Foothills Christian High School in El Cajon, joins him as a big man who can stretch the floor as well as score down low. Ike Anigbogu and Kobe Paras round out the 2016 basketball commits. All in all, it is looking like this year will be an exciting one in Westwood as new recruits and returning talent seek to revitalize the UCLA basketball program and make Pauley Pavilion the center of the college basketball world once again.

 

Korosh Bahrami

UCLA Class of 2020

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