Check out the latest batch of weekly answers…
1) Every season a couple of teams that are expected to be national leaders fail miserably and end at the bottom of their conferences, while others come out of nowhere to be a top ten team. What would UCLA have to do this season to raise from the current bottom of the PAC expectations to be in the running for a top tier bowl? – Anonymous
I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a very weird first year in the Pac-12, and that no one can accurately predict what’s going to happen. Most teams are on thin ice in some way, shape or form. Stanford has the WORLD’S GREATEST QUARTERBACK EVER, but a new coach. Who knows? USC is going through issue after issue. Arizona had the Criner thing weighing on them for a while, and has to replace a bunch. ASU has been demolished by injuries and we’re not even in the season. Oregon has the whole Lyles fiasco. It goes on and on. And UCLA is introducing essentially a new coaching staff. What the Bruins will need to do, first and foremost, is find 22 guys on the team who will absolutely sell out for the new staff. Forget talent – the talent is there. UCLA’s 2008-2010 recruiting classes, which should be into the maturation phase, were loaded, and now its about translating raw talent into football talent, which doesn’t just mean the ability to run fast and hit hard, but the ability to run correctly and hit correctly. And you gotta want it. Last year, we can all agree that it looked painfully clear that UCLA wasn’t playing with the energy and vigor required to beat more talented teams. Now that the talent should be catching up, the want needs to catch up, too. Oh, and the offensive and defensive lines need to stay healthy and Prince or Brehaut needs to step up. That’s all.
2) While the odds are likely low, where would you put them? Given recent recruiting and the influx of new coaches, I give the Bruins a 50/50 chance for this to be the turnaround year? I am just an unrealistic fan caught up in preseason hype or could this be the season we have been waiting 10 years to see? – Anonymous
I split that question up, to add this: Waiting 10 years to see? No. I think UCLA can be an eight-win team if the bounces break correctly. I think Oregon (whoops, that was supposed to be Oregon State), Stanford, USC and Utah will be very hard for UCLA to beat. The other games? All crapshoots. But UCLA needs to take a small leap before a national leap, and another 7-6 season like in ’09 won’t get fans leaping for joy.
3) Coach Howland just offered Parker-Jackson Cartwright. What are you hearing about him? – Anonymous
Cartwright’s been opening a lot of eyes during this summer, and all indications are that he’ll be an elite prospect by next year, if he’s not already one now. He has a lot of interest in UCLA, and UCLA obviously has a lot of interest in him, but he’s the kind of kid that majors will continue to go after, so I think UCLA is going to have to be in it for the long haul. I’d give UCLA a better shot on him than anyone else, by a sizeable margin, but it’s pretty early for a 5-8 sophomore. He has some growing to do – both height and weight – and it’ll be interesting to see his progression.
4) The Howland detractors always seem to mention that ex players now in the NBA have negative comments about how they were held back offensively. Have you ever had any interviews with these former players if it’s true or not? – Anonymous
I think an 20-year old player who only gets eight-10 shots a game is always going to feel like “I didn’t get mine.” Time has shown, though, that offense is more than how many points you score and how many shots you take, and Howland’s players are consistently among the best in the NBA in terms of understanding the philosophies of offense and positioning and placement. I talked to Kevin Love about it last year, and he only had good things to say.
5) Whatever happened to the “charges” against Shirley, Richardson and Richardson? – Anonymous
I think they hired Franklin and Bash(*), but either way, the charges were lessened from felony to misdemeanor theft charges last year, but I don’t know about the current status of the charges, and some digging on the internet didn’t reveal much.