Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Basketball: Midseason Recap Of The Bruins' Season

Well folks, we’re a tad over half way through the Bruins’ 2012-2013 basketball season, so it’s time to recap and assess performance.

Here are the facts:

  • The Bruins are 14-3 overall, 4-0 and alone atop the Pac-12 by a half game, and #34 in the DailyRPI. The Bruins are on a 9 game winning streak. The Pac-12 as a conference is rated #5 with three teams in the Top 25.
  • The Bruins started the season ranked #13, dropped out of the polls a couple of weeks into the season, remained out of the rankings for seven weeks and re-entered them this week at #24.
  • Two players, Josh Smith and Tyler Lamb, left the team in late November. UCLA was 4-2 at the time of their departure and is 10-1 since.
  • According to DailyRPI the Bruins have one bad loss to Cal-Poly, three “$” quality wins (Indiana State, California and Stanford), and two “$$” quality wins (Missouri and Colorado).
  • The Bruins are currently averaging 17.3 assists pg (9th overall), 78.5 ppg (22nd overall), and 38.7 rebounds pg (44th overall). UCLA is giving up 68.1 ppg (211th overall), have a positive rebound margin of 2.8 (121st overall) and a defensive field goal % of 41.2% (132 overall).

What does it all mean? It is safe to say that a lot of Bruin fans expected the Bruins to be 15-2 or 16-1 or even 17-0 at this juncture, with a Top 10 RPI while having inhabited the Top-25 every week. No one expected Tyler Lamb and Josh Smith to leave. Rather, most of us expected them to be key components to a veteran core of players leading the way. Certainly no one expected us to lose to Cal-Poly or to struggle to beat Georgia or have to go to overtime to beat UCI. Clearly initial expectations for many were not met. But… is that bad?

I would suggest perhaps not. Maybe some expectations were unfair, or unrealistic, or based on a little too much hype, or even deliberately onerous goals set by frustrated long-time fans longing to see Coach Howland gone. Who knows if a Top 15 rating out of the gate was honestly realistic? What I do know is that our new “reality”, at least for this edition of the Bruins, is not necessarily bad and can maybe even be viewed as cautiously optimistic… with a slight chance of exciting.

The truth is at this point in the season we’re playing an exciting brand of basketball with three starters that are legitimate double digit scoring weapons from almost anywhere in the half court. We have one of the most prolific assist leaders in the country. We are on a nine-game win streak which includes a win over a Top 20 team in Missouri. At 4-0, we’re in first place in a modestly resurgent Pac-12 that is currently projected to place four teams in the Big Dance, and 2-0 on the road in conference. Incidentally, despite some poo-pooing here and there on the web, the road sweep of Utah and Colorado was impressive. RPI projected losses in both games. Zero teams swept the Utah and Colorado weekend last season. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the Pac-12 fairs in the mountains. I wouldn’t bet against Colorado holding serve at home the rest of the season.

So was the first half of the season a success? Not quite as much as we had hoped. Not necessarily in the manner we expected. Not with the all people we anticipated… but it sez here the answer to that question is: yes.

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Tags: Basketball UCLA Bruins

  • carlosatUCLA

    Unfair expectations? Gonna have to respectfully disagree here.

    I think UCLA had fair expectations. We were tabbed as a top-25 team last year and flamed out, and are you going to tell me that those were unrealistic expectations and that the 19-win season was warranted? No. You are not.

    I’m a skeptic and an alarmist, I know this. But to say that pinning us as a top-15 team was unfair? Last I checked, BruinsNation doesn’t get an AP vote. Their expectations weren’t too high (except the Final Four requirement; too many things happen in basketball and an Elite Eight appearance would suffice), and their problem lies in constant badgering in every one of their posts without writing straight, not the actual analysis.

    When UCLA flamed out last year, they said we were too devoid of talent with Josh Smith being our best player. They said we hadn’t been together long enough and that Reeves Nelson was a chemistry-destroyer.

    Now we were “too young” to live up to our expectations? I’m not going to use Kentucky as an example here, but if that’s going to be our problem, then maybe Howland shouldn’t have pushed out Lamb, shouldn’t have pushed out Smith (both upperclassmen that both were being stripped of their minutes for the younger guys that some fans seem to dislike so much).

    Successful first-half? Sure, I’ll give you that. By a hair. But we didn’t live up to *fair* expectations.

  • EBuzz

    Yo Carlos! I posed the “unfair expectations” aspect as an open question; a question I didn’t answer because I’m personally not certain even now. I left it for the reader to answer. The one thing I can say for certain is I’m enjoying this season… so far. ;-)

    • carlosatUCLA

      As am I, sir, AS AM I! :-)