Can UCLA Rebound?

6 Nov

Once again Duke and Kentucky dominated the off-season recruiting news with freshmen classes that have people fawning.  However out west there is a team in the Pac-12 that hopes to do some duck hunting and topple Oregon as conference favorite.  UCLA is that team and Coach Steve Alford has the support of four returning starters and two 5-star recruits, guard Lonzo Ball and 6-10 forward T.J. Leaf in that quest.

When Alford arrived in Westwood he helped the Bruins to consecutive Sweet 16 appearances.  Last season they stumbled a 15-17 record with a 10th place finish in conference at 6-12.  The pieces for a rebound are there for Alford, the team returns all but two players that saw significant minutes last season, Tony Parker and his 12.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and reserve Jonah Bolden who averaged four points and four rebounds off the bench.

Add Ball and Leaf to the puzzle that should slide in nicely.  Ball should start at the point allowing Bryce Alford to move off the ball which seems to be his more natural position and although Leaf isn’t as much of a wide body that Parker was, it is hoped that Leaf and a more seasoned Thomas Welsh can help replace that production.

Whether last season was just a speed bump or the beginning descent might be hard to determine until the start of conference play, which ironically begins in Eugene against Oregon on December 28 because the non-conference slate for UCLA consists of one true road game, at Kentucky on December 3rd.

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