Norman Powell named UCLA’s MVP at basketball banquet

UCLA's Norman Powell defends Byron Wesley during the Bruins' Sweet 16 loss to Gonzaga on March 27. Powell had 16 points, five rebounds and three blocks to end his career at Houston's NRG Stadium. (Tom Pennington/Getty)

UCLA’s Norman Powell defends Byron Wesley during the Bruins’ Sweet 16 loss to Gonzaga on March 27. Powell had 16 points, five rebounds and three blocks to end his career at Houston’s NRG Stadium. (Tom Pennington/Getty)

UCLA men’s basketball held its year-end banquet last night. Here’s the list of awards the team handed out.

Norman Powell, Sr., G, 6-4, 215
John Wooden Award (most valuable player)

Kevon Looney, Fr., F, 6-9, 220
Seymour Armond Memorial Award (most valuable freshman)
Gerald A. Finerman Award (rebounding leader)

Tony Parker, Jr., F/C, 6-9, 260
Player Improvement Award Continue reading

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UCLA’s Kevon Looney could make NBA draft decision soon

UPDATE: Kevon Looney is close to choosing his representation, according to RealGM, and has plans to declare for the NBA draft.

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Kevon Looney has not yet announced whether or not he will leave UCLA and declare for the NBA draft, but head coach Steve Alford doesn’t think the wait will last much longer.

“I think it’ll probably be a quicker decision versus something that’s going to be drawn out,” Alford said.

Although the 6-foot-9 freshman forward left the door open for a return to school last week, it’s difficult to imagine him turning down a chance to become a lottery pick this June. Continue reading

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UCLA adjusts to shooting in cavernous NRG Stadium

UCLA arrived in Houston last night, and shot around for about an hour or so this morning at NRG Stadium. Formerly known as Reliant Stadium, the football venue can seat up to 80,000 people — absolutely dwarfing any other place the Bruins have played this season.

Will that set-up affect how players shoot?

“You get to go out there and you see how big the stadium is,” said point guard Bryce Alford. “The scoreboard is huge. The court is elevated. All that stuff. It’s what you dream of when you’re a kid, playing in a venue like this. …

“You got to get used to the shooting. It’s definitely different, but they’ve done a great job of making the background darker. There’s black (canvas) behind both hoops. So, I don’t think it will be too much different than shooting in a normal gym.”

In case you missed anything, here’s a roundup of our UCLA-Gonzaga coverage so far this week: Continue reading

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VIDEO: Bryce Alford talks about win over SMU, goaltending call

Point guard Bryce Alford was the hero in UCLA’s 60-59 win over SMU to start the NCAA Tournament, scoring 27 points and hitting 9 of 11 from beyond the arc.

The sophomore made four 3-pointers in the last 3:40, but his last one got some help in the form of Yanick Moreira’s goltending.

“It’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me in the game of basketball,” Alford said.

Alford now holds UCLA’s single-season record for made 3-pointers with 88, one head of the 87 that Arron Afflalo had in 2007.

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Was the goaltending call correct in UCLA’s win vs. SMU?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — UCLA beat SMU, 60-59, today in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64. The Bruins finished the game on an 8-0 run — with those last three points coming when Yanick Moreira got called for goaltending on Bryce Alford’s long 3-point attempt.

Did officials make the right decision?

From the NCAA men’s basketball rules book, this is Rule 9, Section 17, Article 3:

Goaltending occurs when a defensive player touches the ball during a field-goal try and each of the following conditions is met:

1. The ball is on its downward flight; and
2. The ball is above the level of the ring and has the possibility, while in flight, of entering the basket and is not touching the cylinder.

From what I saw live and from looking again at the footage, Alford’s shot looked like it was about to hit the rim. Moreira then jumped up and tipped it before it did, however, which resulted in the call. The shot didn’t look like it had the “possibility … of entering the basket,” but the officials also could have applied a basketball interference rule. The latter only requires that Moreira touched “the ball while any part of it is within the cylinder that has the ring as its lower base.”

Here was what official Sean Hull said after the game: “The call is goaltending and isn’t reviewable. We gave the rule number and the article. Why we went to the monitor was to determine if the basket was a three or a tow. Under two minutes by rule, we have a directive to do that. At the table it was confirmed that it was a three, and we put the ball back in play.”

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