UCLA Basketball: It Is Only Game One, But Changes Need To Be Made


It is just one game, but already it is clear changes need to be made with the UCLA Basketball team after an 84-81 loss to Monmouth on Friday night.

Disclaimer: This is not a hate filled article, rather a vision into what could be with UCLA Basketball. Simply, these are observations from UCLA’s 84-81 loss to Monmouth (coming from a guy that has coached once in his life).

RELATED: UCLA Is Shocked By Monmouth

The Bryce Alford Situation

Bryce Alford is not a point guard, at least at the Division I level. He is a a shooting guard, which, and I am not being facetious about it, is a position he could thrive at. Instead, he is continually used as the Bruin’s main distributor, which is not exactly working out.

Nov 13, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Bryce Alford (20) yells from the bench during the first half of the game against the Monmouth Hawks at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Against Monmouth, Alford did a decent job, especially in the second half as he helped the Bruins get out to a 13-point lead with just over five minutes left on his way to scoring a team-high 22 points. He went 4-for-8 from behind the arc and went 8-for-9 from the free throw line and even added 5 assists.

Unfortunately, he went a total 5-for-17 from the floor and had 4 turnovers.

A lot of his mistakes handling the ball came on bad decision making. Often he would dribble into two defenders and get trapped, cutting off both his passing and shooting options. To remedy this, the Bruins should allow Aaron Holiday or Isaac Hamilton to be the distributors and make room for Alford on the wing where he can shoot all day long, which he has proven he can be successful at.

Use The Big Men

Thomas Welsh and Tony Parker combined for 31 points going 13-for-20 last night. Welsh had 12 points on 66.7% shooting. Parker had 12 on 64% shooting. Both big men accounted for 37% of the overall score, yet only shot 29% of all Bruin shots.

Nov 13, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins center Thomas Welsh (40) dunks the ball in the first half of the game against the Monmouth Hawks at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Needless to say, they were both very effective. Unfortunately the shot distribution was not in their favor as both big men accounted for 37% of the overall score, yet only 29% of all Bruin shots.

Unfortunately, the offense seemed to be focused on getting outside shoots and moving the ball through Alford, Hamilton and Holiday. If UCLA wants to be successful, they need to get the front court involved as much as possible.

Additionally, there was help in the front court as freshman Alex Olesinski, who only played 15 minutes, scored 7 points and pulled down 5 rebounds (all of which were offensive). He was energetic off the bench and did a good job trying to match the intensity of Parker and Welsh.

On top of that, we have yet to see Jonah Bolden (who was benched for disciplinary reasons) and Gyorgy Goloman (out with a leg fracture). Soon there will be too many reasons not to go through the big men.


It is true, defense wins championships and if UCLA does not get some, there will be no championships in their future. Proof of that was losing their season opener to Monmouth.

More from Go Joe Bruin

UCLA cannot depend on their offense to outscore their opponents because things will get really sticky when they take on a defensive-minded team, but that is not the issue here. The issue is how there was little-to-no Bruin defense in this game which gave Monmouth too much room to operate. Shots were uncontested, lanes were allowed to open up and there was no pressure.

This was highlighted by the fact that the Bruins had a 13-point lead in the second half. The Bruins seemed to let up of the gas offensively which did not help their efforts on defense. Monmouth knew exactly what they needed to do and patiently worked their way back in to this game. This is nothing new for UCLA.

Next: How Can UCLA Basketball Be Successful?

In their first round game of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the Bruins had a 10-point lead on SMU, which did not last long as the Bruins got complacent and allowed a series of 3-pointers that took SMU on a 19-0 run. Fortunately, there was a goaltending call on a missed Alford 3-point attempt that gave the Bruins the win.

If UCLA finds themselves with a lead, they need to go straight at their opponent. Remember the saying from Karate Kid? “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy, SIR!” UCLA needs to adopt this mantra and fight, fight, fight to the very end. If they are up big, they need to step on the throats of their opponents. UCLA needs a killer instinct and if they do not find one, it is going to be a long season.