After a day of digesting the #4 UCLA Bruins loss to #1 Florida Gators, the sting has not worn off. Not that it would, but any deep tournament loss will probably elicit unwelcoming emotions as this so clearly has. The bottom line is that the season is over and UCLA now has the 2014-15 season to look forward to. With that, there are already some severe changes to the Bruins future in regards to who will be playng next year.
The Sweet Sixteen
UCLA lost to Florida for the fourth time in the NCAA tournament in the last decade, 79-68. But only by bracket circumstance. The two teams that played last night had nothing in common with the past Bruin-Gator teams that have recently done battle. A deeper Florida team took on an up-tempo, offensive minded Bruin squad in a game that could have gone either way for 30 minutes of the game. Although, after that time, the game belonged to Florida.
Several things did not work for the Bruins and caught them in the end:
-A weak start for Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Norman Powell had them collectively earn only 12 points in the first half.
-The Bruins did not attack the basket like they did against Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship or their previous two NCAA Tournament games.
-Head Coach Steve Alford still needs time to fit in as the head honcho. Florida’s head coach Billy Donovan made that very apparent as he out-coached Alford over and over in this game.
Steve Alford’s Coaching Style
As much as Alford has done for this Bruin squad in his first year, he still has a long ways to go. A big part of this loss was on his inability to counter what Florida dished out. Anderson got his second foul early in the game and instead of riding it out, UCLA’s most potent player was on the bench while “back-up point guard” Bryce Alford struggled on the floor. That was a Coach Alford misfire.
In the second half, UCLA did make a decent run to dig into the Gator lead, but once again, Bryce was subbed in for the most proficient guy on the floor during a crucial Bruin run. What ever hope the Bruins had of salvaging this game went away quicker than Tyus Edney going the length of the court for a game winner.
And lastly, Alford had no comeback plan. Donovan and the Gators had been on the press all game and when Alford finally implemented his own late in the game, Florida burned through it for a few quick baskets.
Look, it is impressive that Alford got UCLA back into the Sweet Sixteen in his first year as coach, but expectations will be higher for next year and figuring out the little things that get your team deeper into the tournament will need to be automatic. It is no time to back down now. Alford needs to go full throttle on this thing. So goes the life of the UCLA basketball coach.
On To The NBA…
So we all expected Anderson to declare for the NBA draft, but it come out fairly early this morning that freshman Zach LaVine has chosen to forgo the rest of his college career for NBA money. It was not pretty for LaVine on Twitter today.
VIDEO: UCLA G/F Kyle Anderson has declared for the NBA draft, how high will he go? http://t.co/0FW99UGEDz
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) March 28, 2014
Amazing to me that UCLA’s Zach LaVine thinks he’s ready for the NBA, not 24 hrs after losing. He’s not even a decent college player yet. — Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 28, 2014
The idea that UCLA is holding Zach Lavine back by not letting him get minutes at backup point guard seems pretty absurd to me. — Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) March 28, 2014
One of the reasons for this move was due his lack of playing time at point guard. His point is relevant, especially since Bryce Alford had a less than stellar first year at the PG spot, but the reaction to leave after one year as a bench player that did not produce much in the second half of the season is quite absurd. Thanks, Jeff Eisenberg.
And if that was not enough…
— UCLA Bruins 247 (@Bruin247) March 28, 2014
Well, if three Bruins are gone this year, so be it. Good luck in the NBA. As for UCLA, they now have to focus on the future, which seemingly just got a bit harder. That begins now.