Looking back at Bryce Alford’s last shot in UCLA’s loss at Cal

If UCLA’s 64-62 loss at Cal last Saturday ends up being the game that costs the Bruins an NCAA Tournament berth, there might be one play that’s reviewed more than any other: Bryce Alford’s missed 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The offense stalled and missed five of its last six shots to end the game — including a poorly conceived jumper by Norman Powell that could’ve tied it — so it’s not fair to put the blame on one player. But Alford still had a chance to win the game, and arguably could have generated a better shot had he passed to a wide-open Isaac Hamilton on the other side of the court.

Looking at the replay, Alford had a chance to find Hamilton with about three seconds left on the game clock — when he was crossing the “Pete Newell” between his bench and the announcer’s table. While it would have been a tough pass, that Alford didn’t have his head on a swivel sank any chance of it happening. Hamilton also wasn’t wide open for another second or so, but Alford could have potentially identified that the defense was shifting away from that area — then lobbed it ahead.

“I didn’t see Isaac,” Alford said. “Obviously, watching tape, he was running down the court. … If I’d seen him, I definitely would have thrown it to him.” Continue reading

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Steve Alford talks about UCLA’s big men, preparation for Utah

Steve Alford talked to reporters today before UCLA’s practice, touching on the Bruins’ preparation for Thursday’s 7 p.m. tipoff against No. 11 Utah at Pauley Pavilion. The Utes blew out UCLA in Salt Lake City on Jan. 4, winning 71-39.

Some of the main notes:

– Center Tony Parker is still “day-to-day” with back spasms. He returned to practice with UCLA on Tuesday, but only did non-contact work. Senior guard Norman Powell did not practice on Tuesday with an illness — the latest setback for him after a bruised hip and two dislocated fingers.

– If Parker isn’t ready to play against Utah, true freshman Thomas Welsh will likely make his third career start. But at this point in his career, the 7-footer is more of a jump shooter — one who isn’t capable of anchoring the inside-out offense that worked well during UCLA’s three-game winning streak. He has taken just 39.4 percent of his shots at the rim this season, making 45.9 percent of them.

The key for Welsh, Alford said, is learning to initiate contact rather than bouncing away from it. The coach sees Welsh as a player who could be averaging around seven or eight points off the bench this season. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Steve Alford talks about UCLA’s guards, rebounding

Steve Alford talked to the media before UCLA’s Tuesday practice, touching on Isaac Hamilton’s play, keeping guards out of foul trouble, and Kevon Looney’s rebounding prowess.

The Bruins host UC Riverside at 8 p.m. tomorrow, their last game before facing top-10 teams in Gonzaga and Kentucky.

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Isaac Hamilton’s appeal denied, will sit out season

The limbo ended, but not in the way UCLA had hoped.

Five-star guard Isaac Hamilton’s appeal to play immediately has been denied, the school announced Thursday. The former St. John Bosco standout will sit out the 2013-14 season and play the following year as a sophomore.

Originally signed with UTEP, Hamilton broke his national letter of intent and instead enrolled at UCLA. He loses a year of eligibility for reneging on his NLI, but is allowed to continue practicing with the team. Continue reading

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Bruins still waiting on eligibility of Hamilton, Bail

Assistant coach Ed Schilling started UCLA’s Monday practice with a skill-work session, focusing on dribbling and passing. Some players couldn’t dribble two balls at quite the rhythm and pace asked of them, so it’s a good sign the staff is spending time building these skills.

Some notes:

– The eligibility of forward Wanaah Bail and guard Isaac Hamilton are still undetermined. Coach Steve Alford said the NCAA could issue a decision on Bail very soon, but Hamilton’s appeal was submitted very recently. Continue reading

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Basketball notes: Steve Alford talks guard rotation, schemes

UCLA officially started practicing this past Saturday, and the first 15 minutes of Monday’s afternoon session was open to the media. The Bruins didn’t do anything intensive to start, but freshman Bryce Alford manned the point while Kyle Anderson did individual drills at the other end of the court.

Anderson said he’s playing a lot more point guard than he did under former head coach Ben Howland, estimating the increase at roughly 90 percent.

Other notes: Continue reading

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UCLA officially signs five-star guard Isaac Hamilton

Steve Alford’s recruits haven’t taken the usual route to UCLA. The first was his son. The second, an athletic forward who originally signed with Texas Tech in 2012.

His latest is Isaac Hamilton, a five-star guard whose eligibility for the upcoming season is still in doubt. The Bruins officially announced his arrival today, stating that the McDonald’s All-American signed a scholarship offer on Thursday.

“Isaac is a big, versatile guard and will fit well with our system of play,” Alford said in a statement. “We are excited he is a Bruin today.” Continue reading

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Five-star guard Isaac Hamilton admitted to UCLA

After back-to-back misses on Wednesday and Thursday, the Bruins swung back with a big-time commitment.

Rivals.com broke the news this morning that five-star guard Isaac Hamilton has been admitted to UCLA, a welcome salve for the Bruins after missing out on four-star point guards Jordan McLaughlin and Quentin Snider. Originally signed with UTEP, Hamilton will need a waiver to play the upcoming season.

Ranked the No. 14 player in the 2013 class, the St. John Bosco shooting guard was originally a coup for coach Tim Floyd and the Miners. Top recruits in the west don’t often leave the region, and when they do, it’s to places like Durham or Lexington — not El Paso, which hasn’t seen an NCAA tournament win since 1992. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Isaac Hamilton denies only targeting USC

» For what it’s worth, Isaac Hamilton said he isn’t only targeting USC as he tries to back out of his NLI to UTEP: “It’s a school close so she (grandman) can see me play.” Tim Floyd has his doubts.

» Two Arizona players joined Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA: All-American linebacker Jake Fischer, and transfer kicker Jake Smith.

» Is Jahii Carson the quickest point guard in college basketball? Continue reading

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