UCLA coach Steve Alford talked about the start of the Bruins’ 2015-16 season before the start of their first practice, touching on Jonah Bolden’s recovery from knee surgery, the team’s increased depth, and the possibility of playing big men Thomas Welsh and Tony Parker in the same lineup.
Two months ago, Steve Alford left open the possibility of taking his son Bryce off scholarship.
“We haven’t talked about that,” the UCLA men’s basketball coach said in June. “But obviously, that’s something that we can do.”
And something that appears to be an increasingly likely possibility. According to Scout.com, the Bruins are willing to make point guard Bryce Alford a walk-on in 2016-17 to make room for five-star power forward T.J. Leaf — who decommitted from Arizona on Thursday. Continue reading
UCLA last won the Maui Invitational in 2006. Doing so again this year would be a big statement for Steve Alford.
The eight-team tournament will signal the Bruins’ first significant competition of the season, starting with UNLV on Nov. 23 at 8:30 pm PT (ESPN2). The Runnin’ Rebels have regressed under head coach Dave Rice — missing the NCAA tournament the last two years — but still have a talented roster that includes five-star center Stephen Zimmerman.
After that game, UCLA will face either Kansas or Chaminade the next day. The other side of the tournament bracket consists of St. John’s, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Indiana.
“You get a really good litmus test right away,” Alford said. “You get a really good feel from a coaching standpoint, playing three games in a row against quality opponents. You’re going to get a really good idea and picture of who your team is going into December.” Continue reading
What are your thoughts on Looney’s fit with the defending champs?
“You can never predict the draft, and you don’t really have any say of where you go. it’s one of the first times. These guys pick their AAU, pick their high school, pick their college. it’s a different experience for them. You go in the draft, and now you get a chance to go in the first round. You get picked by the defending champs, an organization like Golden State — it just doesn’t get much better than that.
“We said the same thing last year in regard to Kyle (Anderson going to the Spurs). I think if you talk to Kyle — he didn’t play a whole lot this year, he got some minutes — but being a part of that franchise, it was an incredible year for him. I couldn’t be happier for Kevon, because he’s going to a terrific organization.”
Did concerns about Looney’s health depress his draft stock?
“There’s no question. He definitely dropped because of that. Fortunately, he dropped into a great situation, being with the franchise he’s with. But I definitely think those were some concerns. I had to field an awful lot of phone calls in the last week or two, and all of my comments were the same. Continue reading
UCLA men’s basketball released its upcoming nonconference schedule today, and the spot to mark in your calendar is Dec. 3.
That’s when the Bruins will host Kentucky, facing a team that dismantled them in an 83-44 blowout last December in Chicago — one that the Wildcats opened with a 24-0 run. UK will almost certainly enter Pauley Pavilion as the favorite, but this is also a team that lost seven players from its Final Four squad.
As has become customary under head coach Steve Alford — who is heading into his third season — UCLA has a loaded nonconference slate that also includes a visit to Gonzaga on Dec. 12, and a game against North Carolina on Dec. 19 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Both teams beat the Bruins by double-digits last winter. The Bulldogs also ended UCLA’s season with a 74-62 win in the Sweet 16.
“I’ve maintained all along that we want to upgrade our program’s schedule in hopes of playing tough and exciting marquee games,” Alford said in a statement, “and I’d say we’ve moved even further in that direction this year. … This non-conference schedule figures to be one of the strongest in the nation, and I know our players can’t wait to take on this challenge.”
The Bruins could also play Kansas and Indiana in November’s Maui Invitational, a tournament that also includes St. John’s, UNLV and Wake Forest.
UCLA’s first competition will come in an exhibition game against Cal State Los Angeles on Oct. 30, and it will officially open its season against Monmouth on Nov. 13.
See the full nonconference schedule below: Continue reading