After the 2015-16 season ended for the UCLA basketball team, which had them finish 15-17, Steve Alford sent a letter to the Bruin faithful stating that changes will be made about defense. Let us see if he has lived up to his words…
UCLA basketball‘s 2015-16 season did not end well. After starting the season (in the non-conference) 9-4, the Bruins hit a wall in Pac-12 play, going 6-12. They ended the season with five straight losses which culminated with an embarrassing 95-71 defeat at the hands of USC in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
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That uninspiring end prompted Alford to write a letter to the Bruins fanbase which went a little something like this…
Alford not only gave back his extension, but he also made several declarations to improve the program. Has he lived up to that? Not really.
The biggest declaration was his stance on defense. UCLA ranked outside the Top 100 in defense and Alford wrote, “this can never happen again.” It happened again.
At the end of the 2017-18, according to the KenPom rankings, UCLA had an adjusted defensive rank of 103. At the end of 2016-17 ranked 85th. Currently, the Bruins rank 81st. Though the Bruins improved, hovering near the Top 100 is not exactly progress, especially since there does not seem an improvement.
In the offseason, Alford hired a new assistant to help with the defense, Murray Bartow. There does not seem to be an improvement in this area. The defense seems as uneventful and stagnant as ever and there is no urgency to change that.
Alford said he wanted to earn the extension back, but it seems one season was needed to prove that he can move the program forward. After the 2016-17 season, when the Bruins went 31-5 (the Lonzo Ball team), UCLA gave back the extension to Alford in October of 2017. UCLA ended that following season 21-12 with an embarrassing loss to St. Bonaventure in the NCAA Tournament play-in game.
Looking back, it seems that extension should have never been given, instead, he should have been let go. But since he was not, UCLA is now 7-6 this season. After making promises he hasn’t kept, why is he still in charge of the most storied college basketball program in history?