Q: Which game do you think we have the best chance of winning and why: Utah, USC or rematch with Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship?
A: USC. The Trojans don’t present the same matchup problems that Utah and Stanford do, or the experience of actually having beaten a Jim Mora-coached UCLA team. It’s hard to imagine the Bruins playing at or near their absolute best for their rivalry game — especially if they’re coming off a loss in Salt Lake City.
Q: If Stanford propels itself into the playoffs, does the Pac-12 runner up lock up the Rose Bowl regardless of committee rankings?
“Both participants in the Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls are contracted outside the playoff arrangement (Big Ten and Pac-12 to Rose Bowl; SEC and Big 12 to Sugar Bowl; ACC to Orange Bowl against the highest ranked available team from the SEC, Big Ten and Notre Dame). If a conference champion qualifies for the playoff, then the bowl will choose a replacement from that conference. When those bowls host the semifinals and their contracted conference champions do not qualify, then the displaced champion(s) will play in the other New Year’s bowls.”
Q: Do you agree that the UCLA defense has been carrying more than its own weight over the last three games? They dominated Cal, were on the field most of the Colorado game, and recovered a fumble and three interceptions at Oregon State. Should we be concerned about the offense?
A: I’d say that the UCLA defense is playing better than expected given its myriad injuries. I wouldn’t say that it’s outperforming the offense at this point. Continue reading →
For the third time in seven tries, UCLA opened its season with a loss. In one of the ugliest performances of Steve Alford’s three-year tenure, the Bruins choked away a double-digit lead against Monmouth in less than nine minutes — then fell in overtime in an 84-81 decision.
“Pretty disgusted in the way that we played, to say the least,” said junior guard Bryce Alford.
Added senior big man Tony Parker: “They played way harder than us.”
Both pointed to turnovers as the main cause, with the Bruins coughing up the ball 23 times to spur 23 points for the Hawks.
“It was a game where the whole time, we couldn’t control the ball,” Alford said. “A lot of that’s on me. … I can’t have a five-assist, four-turnover kind of night. That’s not something I can do.
“As a leader, as a point guard, as a guard that’s been here for three years now, I can’t have games where, as a team, we have 23 turnovers. That’s not acceptable.”
“We obviously have a ton of work to do, because we’re not very good,” he said. Alford also called his team’s guard play “atrocious,” and said that UCLA needs to figure out how to get to “average” before even being good.
This marks the Bruins’ third loss in their last seven season openers. They fell to Cal State Fullerton, 68-65, in 2009, and to LMU, 69-58, in 2011. UCLA went on to finish out 14- and 19-win campaigns, respectively.